How Pep Boys Developed Employee Competencies

description of the definition of competencies

Pep Boys has made headlines recently for its Road Ahead employee training and rebranding initiative. You can read more about that in our recent blog post, but we also wanted to share some of the back story with you.

When the company’s leaders realized they needed to make fundamental changes, they turned to us.

We helped them rework their competency models so they would be more useful for hiring and training purposes. We also helped to put those employee competencies to use.

Here’s a closer look at what Pep Boys accomplished with our help

The Challenge

Pep Boys had employee competency models, but they were outdated and no longer reflected the strategic or cultural direction of the organization. The company wanted to focus more on building relationships with customers, especially its fast-growing female demographic. The competencies also needed to be more specific so they could be evaluated based on observation, rather than opinion.

For example, what exactly did it mean to be “friendly” when interacting with a customer? How did that translate into something a manager could assess in an employee or a potential hire?

In short, the existing competencies simply weren’t useful as performance management tools.

Additionally, although Pep Boys had staff who managed training and development, the company lacked someone with specific expertise in high-level organizational development and the time required to rework the existing models.

OnPoint’s Solution

OnPoint Consulting specializes in organizational development, including training, assessment and succession planning. Establishing competency models is an important part of hiring and succession planning. Our first step was to interview the CEO and senior leadership team at Pep Boys to identify the specific objectives the company wanted to achieve. This was essential in establishing more meaningful competencies.

We examined not only what Pep Boys was doing now, but where senior leaders wanted the organization to be several years from now to ensure the new competencies would reflect that.

We also spent time observing and interviewing employees who performed various functions, from the front desk manager to the auto technicians, to determine what skills and traits they needed to be successful. The entire process took two months.

Once we had a new set of approved competency models in place, we worked with Pep Boys to roll them out to the organization. That included assisting Pep Boys in training managers and human resource professionals and communicating these changes to the employees themselves, who would now be evaluated based on the new competencies.

We also created interview guides that managers and human resource staff could use when meeting with job candidates. To improve training effectiveness, we reviewed the company’s face-to-face and e-learning programs and aligned them with each of the competencies. This made it easier for employees and managers to select training programs that would meet their needs.

The Results

Pep Boys put its new competency model to the test in Tampa, Fla., which was also used as a testing ground for the new store designs. Based on customer surveys as well as unsolicited ratings and reviews, Pep Boys found customer satisfaction significantly improved at the Tampa locations. Its Yelp rating, an online score compiled from customer reviews, moved up one full star in the Tampa market.

Revenue in that market rose as well, according to Jack MacDonald, the former assistant vice president of training and development at Pep Boys.

As Pep Boys extended its competency model to other stores, managers noticed the quality of hires improved as well, MacDonald said. With new job descriptions and a new hiring model, the company began to attract more employees with a customer service-oriented background. It’s now hiring people from companies known for world-class service, such as Apple and Starbucks.

Technical knowledge is still important, but Pep Boys is now more likely to hire a store associate or manager with strong customer service skills as well as a working knowledge of cars and a willingness to learn more than someone who would rather work with cars than people.

The long-term results of Pep Boys’ new business model remains to be seen,but the “Road Ahead” for the company looks bright.

OnPoint Consulting has worked with companies of all sizes and industries, ranging from retail to manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your company achieve results, contact us today.