Key to AutoZone Growth Strategy: Finding the Right People

AutoZone, the giant auto-parts retailer, will need to hire thousands of additional people during the next decade to meet its ambitious growth targets: open 150 new stores a year across its operations in the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Brazil, while doubling its revenue to $20 billion.

What’s more, those new hires must fit the company’s unique, service-oriented culture, embodied in the pledge every employee recites: “AutoZoners always put customers first! We know our parts and products. Our stores look great! We’ve got the best merchandise at the right price.”

Realizing that its on-premises recruiting system wasn’t up to that monumental task, AutoZone decided to deploy the talent module of Oracle HCM Cloud—first in the US last December, then in Mexico in February—as part of a broader migration to the HR platform. The cloud application not only is helping AutoZone hire staff for the stores it plans to open in those countries, but it also will help the company add 800 employees a week to its existing stores during the spring and summer busy season, says Theresa LeDoux, the AutoZone senior IT manager who led the Oracle implementation.

“Our app needed a lot of customizing and special coding, and it took a lot of time away from our IT team,” LeDoux says. “Our new cloud-based HR system is much more efficient, and Oracle provides all updates and maintenance required.”

Among the Oracle system’s improvements:

• A new responsive design mobile app lets people apply for a job from anywhere with internet connectivity, using their smartphones.

• The streamlined job application now asks for only essential information, helping cut the average time it takes to apply from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.

• Newly automated processes to complete employee background checks and onboarding free up store managers for higher-level and more personalized work—such as identifying candidates who are a good cultural fit.

• A new AutoZone careers landing page segments available jobs by type—sales, customer service, warehouse, and corporate—to help applicants find jobs of interest more quickly.

• Store managers have visibility into applicants who have applied at “sister stores” in the same geographical area.

AutoZone received 93,000 job applications in the first 30 days after it rolled out the Oracle HCM Cloud recruiting module—more than four times the number it received during the same time the previous year. “It’s a much better user interface and a much better user experience for the applicants,” says Sona Manzo, vice president of the human capital management practice at Hitachi Consulting, the integrator for the project.

Because the individual stores are so important to the company’s recruiting and talent management efforts, AutoZone and Hitachi Consulting involved the store operations group, along with the company’s HR and IT leaders, in every step of the system-evaluation process. Together, they automated many of the hiring processes.

“It was really helpful to get everyone’s feedback on usability and to get them excited about what we were building,” Manzo says.

This year, AutoZone kicked off phase two of its Oracle HCM Cloud deployment—core HR, payroll, and absence management, with employee and manager self-service.  As AutoZone continues to grow globally, the system will provide enterprisewide employee data insights.

Going the Extra Mile

Meanwhile, AutoZone is looking to its new talent system to attract employees who will continue the retailer’s long tradition of “going the extra mile” for customers. LeDoux, who recently celebrated her 20th anniversary at the company, tells the story of a regional disaster recovery team stranded in floodwaters in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.

As torrential rain pelted the team’s disabled truck, the team leader called the nearest AutoZone store and was surprised someone was there to answer the phone. LeDoux says the satisfied customer later wrote to AutoZone to report that the store clerk not only sold the team a new battery, but also changed it for them in the pouring rain. She and her rescue crew went on to save 74 people that day.

LeDoux acknowledges that tomorrow’s auto-parts industry—electricity-powered engines, driverless navigation, ubiquitous connectivity—will look very different from today’s, making it all the more important to attract and retain knowledgeable, dedicated employees.

“But no matter what the cars of the future look like,” she says, “they will need to be repaired.”

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