Finding, Hiring and Retaining the Best People Is the Biggest Challenge for 2019-2029

Mike Townsend
Posted on July 23, 2019

It never fails. I have asked hundreds of business owners — 50% of them tire store owners — this question: “What is the biggest challenge you are facing in 2019?” One of the top three is always included in the title of this article, and most sum it up and say, “People.”

In a robust job market it is difficult to find people at all levels within a retail tire store… or any business for that matter. Drug testing notwithstanding, here are ways for you to find and retain good help.

Finding: marketing, Indeed, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn are all great websites that could help you find a store manager or assistant manager. The only challenge is you may end up hiring a “surfer.” In other words, you may need to fill a spot desperately and hire someone who has been “surfing” through jobs during their career.

Over the years I have heard many tactics for finding the best people. Some make the mistake of not using “word-of- mouth” or getting a referral from a friend, coworker, or trusted colleague. I recently spoke to the director of human resources for a medium-sized company, and she said, “All of our long-term employees have been referred by a coworker and/or someone they know.”

Marketing your business to future employees starts with your “Employee Experience.” What do I mean? If your employees are not experiencing a high satisfaction rate in their jobs, they will most likely fail to refer a friend or neighbor to your business for a job.

If your company has a stellar reputation of being good to your employees — what I call your “internal customers” — you will reap several good hires from your current employees. It also helps when using the aforementioned job websites: People will want to apply when they have heard how much your employees enjoy working for you.

Hiring: interviewing

Behavioral interview questions will help you eliminate most bad employees when hiring for any position. One of my favorite issues to address when questioning former managers applying for a job is, “Tell me about a time when you had to correct an employee or fire an employee. What was the reason? How did you part ways with the employee?”

The subject matter can be adapted when interviewing an employee who worked at the level below the manager: “Tell me about a time when your manager corrected you and you did not agree. How did you address the situation?”

(For more behavioral interview questions, email me at

Many companies also have started to embrace “working interviews,” which includes requiring the candidate to work at least half a day on location before being hired. They are paid for their time, of course.

Hiring: onboarding

Many mistakes are made when onboarding an employee. Two common mistakes are utilizing a poor onboarding process, or poorly executing a proper onboarding process.

Today’s new hires want to experience a detailed process. Many companies have business cards, uniforms, hats and other things needed to help the new hires perform well in their new roles. The best onboarding is broken down by days and hours detailing where the new hires will be, and what they will be learning and “who” they will be learning from at each step of the process.

Many mistakes are made when companies do not understand the difference between training and learning.

The importance of retention

Did you know that losing a store manager or an assistant store manager can cost you about six months of their salary to replace and retrain?

Depending on the business disruption, replacing a technician or general service technician can be costly as well. It can be more difficult to measure, but most often the customer experience is impacted by longer wait times and/or business being turned away when you are short a general service technician.

Retaining: training

Many times when training is mentioned, there is a debate about costs. I am reminded about the story of the CEO who had a conversation with his CFO.

The CFO said, “What if we spend the money to train our people and they leave us?” The CEO replied, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Since some traditional training either does not work or is not sufficient for sustainable behavioral change, there will always be a challenge to justify the expense. The data clearly supports investment in training.

Companies like Chick-fil-A Inc. have proven they can not only retain their people in high turnover positions, but also increase employee engagement through a strong training and development plan.

Retaining: Retraining

“Training is not something you did, it’s something you do.” — Owner of a seven store retail tire chain.

Unfortunately in this age of information, you are competing for brain space within the gray matter of each employee. To execute flawlessly so that process becomes habit, it will most often require some retraining of employees.

The same rules apply for retraining as with training. The benefits far outweigh the investment. ■

Mike Townsend is owner of Townsend Strategies, a sales and leadership training and marketing firm. He has 30 years of sales experience, 13 of them in the tire industry. As a Six Sigma black belt and professional trainer, Townsend says he “has witnessed every scenario and heard every objection in the retail tire environment across every state in the U.S.” For more information, call (865) 318-4588 or (800) 319-8552, or email Townsend at

Related Topics: hiring, Mike Townsend, retail, training

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