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Finding Top Talent: Are You 'Fishing' in the Right Spots?

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"If looking for salespeople, you do not necessarily need to find someone with tire industry experience," says Morgan.

This is the time of year when your dealership is ramping upward and into the spring selling season. As such, if you were not already looking to add staffing, you may be now.  

It’s no secret that finding good talent is an extremely difficult task in normal times. Well, these are definitely not “normal times,” so you need to use every tool in your toolbox to find and attract talent.

Now before I go any further, if you are looking for the “magic potion” to get staffing where you want it, I can assure you that this does not exist!  

However, I want to share some tips that can increase your odds of finding better talent that will meet your needs.

The first thing you need to do is determine exactly what you need. That may sound easy, but it takes a bit more introspection. Do not just fill a hole, like simply replacing a tire technician. Really determine what you need to make your business more successful. For example, you may have lost a tire tech, but what you really need is someone with more mechanical skills.

Once you have determined what it is you need, now determine “who” you need. Think of the competencies of someone who has had success in that role or in a similar role before.  

What were some of the things - beyond just their skills - that made them so successful? Wouldn't it make sense to try and find someone who was also strong in those areas? Typically, when you settle for less, you will likely have to look for that person’s replacement before you know it.

Now that you know what you are looking for, it’s time to try and find candidates. Finding talent is a lot like fishing. How you approach it will often determine your success.  

To be more successful, you need to know what you are fishing for, where the best candidates are and how to attract them.  

Let’s start with the job seeker. Some are what we refer to as “motivated job seekers” - those who are either unemployed or are grossly under employed. They are looking for whatever they can get quickly.

These people are like those ravenous little fish that will attack anything they see that looks like food. Other job seekers are more selective, like a window shopper. They are currently happily employed, but have an eye open for a better opportunity. These potential candidates are like those big lunkers in the water. They are happily just swimming around, but occasionally the right bait goes by that piques their interest.

To catch what you really want, it all starts with your approach. Recruiting and fishing have two basic modes: passive and active.  

Let’s start with passive. In fishing, this is where you approach the water wherever you can access it. You put your bait on a hook, add a bobber to your line and you cast it out. And you wait.  

You are hoping that that fish you are looking to catch will find your bait for you. Sure you might catch what you are hoping for, but you are just as likely not to catch anything at all. 

Another strong possibility is that you keep catching fish, but the wrong ones. And before you know it, you have run out of bait.

Passive recruitment is basically the same thing. You throw out a job posting and hope that the person you want sees your ad and responds. Often, what you attract is not what you really want, but in desperation, you often end up settling for the best you can get.  

I am not suggesting that passive recruitment is a waste of time. However, I am suggesting that you change your approach.

Rather than just posting your job on various job boards, consider industry-specific job boards. There are a number of them out there that focus on automotive technicians. I encourage you to search around and you will find several.

If you are willing to spend a bit more, another couple of good options are radio spots and billboards, particularly electronic billboards. These are great ways to potentially attract candidates who are currently working and might not be looking at traditional postings.  

Explain that business is great and you are looking to add to your current, amazing team. If they encounter these during their daily commute, they will likely see or hear the message several times a week.  If they are becoming disenchanted where they currently work, these impressions might start having an effect, leading them to reach out to you.  

A final tip to consider in passive recruitment is to offer a referral bonus. This can be offered out to employees, vendors and even customers. Offer up a couple hundred dollars if someone is referred to you, hired, and stays with you at least 90 days. 

For current employees, you might add an additional sum after this person stays six months. Your employees and vendors likely know others in the industry and just might be able to connect you with someone who may not have necessarily been looking for you.

Now let’s look at active techniques. In fishing, this is getting on a boat and using your fish finder to locate where the fish are, particularly looking for depths and the kind of cover where the type of fish you are interested in might be.  

You have studied up on the right type of lure that will attract the fish you want. Again, while it is possible that you will still not catch anything, the odds that you will find what you want are now greatly enhanced.

When it comes to recruiting, this means getting out and putting yourself in front of good candidates. But before you do, you need to make sure you are using the right lure. In this case, have a story to tell about your business and why someone should consider coming to work for you.  

Since many job seekers today are looking for training, work/life balance and a positive work environment, be prepared to quickly pitch how your business will accommodate these things. This is something that you should know and rehearse, so it flows naturally.

Once you know what you want to say, now is the time to get out in front of them.  Job fairs - particularly that are those focused on retail, for salespeople - can be a great way to meet many potential candidates in one day.

For technicians, job fairs at technical schools or colleges that have auto technology programs are great places to start.

Technical institutions are great places to not only find people today, but for finding those for tomorrow, too. Build a relationship with the school through its department head and instructors. Consider co-op programs with current students to work part-time while in school. These can be great ways to build for your future!

Another form of active recruitment is simply going where good candidates might show up. Is there a place that technicians might go for lunch during the day? Go there and look for anyone coming in with a uniform on. If you see one, introduce yourself, strike up a conversation and ask about what they do.  

If their skills are in line with what you are looking for, this is where you ask if they have ever considered growing their career. Then share your pitch.  

What you are trying to accomplish is to spark their interest in pursuing your opportunity further, potentially setting up a more formal conversation and meeting. While this requires more time for you out of your store, the benefits can be well worth the time investment.

If looking for salespeople, you do not necessarily need to find someone with tire industry experience. Look for those who enjoy people and are giving excellent service. You might find this person in any retail environment, particularly some of the big box hardware stores where you’ll find those who enjoy dealing with people and also don’t mind getting their hands dirty.  

If you find someone who is providing exceptional service to a customer, approach them after they are done. Again, introduce yourself and ask if they have ever considered a career change, then give your pitch. In many cases, you will find great people who simply never thought of working in our industry, but would not only enjoy it, but thrive in it.

I wish there was a way to guarantee success with these tips and techniques every time. I can’t and I won’t.  

As I mentioned earlier, there is no magic that works here. Even the best fishing professionals do not always catch what they are looking for every time they go out. However, using these tips and ideas will increase your likelihood of success.  

Knowing what you want, where to find potential candidates and how to attract them to your business is what makes the difference. While you won’t catch something every time you cast your line, you still have increased your chances and just might catch that trophy fish you have always wanted!

Tire industry veteran Jeff Morgan is the executive director of Dealer Strategic Planning, the DSP Group. He can be reached at or (651) 846-9871. For more information, see


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