Look Beyond the Basics to Attract Top Talent

Aug. 25, 2022

This MTD exclusive was provided by tire and auto industry veteran Randy O’Connor, the executive director of TEN (Training and Education Network). He can be reached at roconnor@10missions. com. For more information, see www.mtdten.com.

Arguably the most discussed topic of the past couple of years has been the job market. We’ve all felt job market pressures in one form or another — some less than others. 

The question usually comes to me in the form of “How do I find more help?” or “What’s the secret to finding employees these days?” These questions have been a part of almost every conversation I’ve had with tire dealers for quite some time.

If you’re fortunate enough to be a member of a professional, peer-to-peer group like MTD TEN (Training and Education Network), you likely have met a few dealers who might be outperforming some others. Why is that? Why do some dealers have extremely low attrition, while others struggle to simply avoid turning away business?

It’s no secret that our industry runs a few years behind advancements in other industries. Whether it’s marketing tools like trigger-and-drip campaigns or customer experience tools like text-to-pay, we have been behind other industries for as long as I can remember.

While we can certainly succeed without having the latest and greatest tools to help improve the customer experience, we certainly cannot succeed without having a scholarly, tuned-in perspective on the job market.

We all agree that our team members are the most important part of our businesses, yet we often fall short of keeping up with advancements in the job market.

Like it or not, our industry has never provided the most team member-centric environment. Add a snowballing lack of participation in the trades, a pandemic, some government financial support that has incentivized people to sit out of the job market and a large push by employees for a heightened work-life balance and you have a recipe for disaster.

What if the standard questions of “How do I find more help?” and “What’s the secret to finding employees these days?” were flipped? Ask instead, “How does more help find me?” and “What’s the secret to finding the best employers these days?”

This flips the script from you finding new team members to employees finding you. Isn’t that really how it goes — or at least how it should?

The best are sought out rather than snubbed. And industry veterans — as well as prospective “best-in-class” team members — know where the best employers are and will seek them out. If you’re truly team member-centric, you’re getting offers, not making them.

The good news here is you get to take your recruiter hat off and put your sales hat back on. Now you simply work hard to sell your dealership’s “value proposition” to prospective employees. So what does a valuable employee proposition look like? Pay and benefits top the sentiments. The good news is we have very short sales cycles and we should be paying on a production or commission basis.

As long as you’re realistic with your annual forecasts and budgets — and you’ve set your individual pay plans to meet those budgets — with the right tools and support, your gross line will grow as your employees strive to meet their personal income goals. The benefit side of that equation is a bit more difficult to solve. That said, there are all sorts of benefit strategies that provide added value.

Second to pay and benefits is a greater work-life balance — or should we say life-work balance? The past couple of years have been taxing on employees, with a large percentage feeling stressed, overwhelmed and burned out.

Set burnout aside and you still have a very large increase in flexibility via remote work. While most of your teams need to be at the shop, that doesn’t mean that your scheduling can’t be more flexible. Consider shorter work weeks for those who work Friday and Saturday. Getting creative with life-work flexibility is a must.

Right behind life-work balance is the desire of employees to do what they like and are good at. Team members who aren’t given the opportunity to exercise their strengths look elsewhere.

Having a well-designed team member advancement and performance review strategy puts all the cards on the table. With such a system, team members will understand how to go from X to Y and more importantly, what it means to them personally.

Next, employees look for stability. This is especially true as our industry reshapes itself. Finally, today’s workforce desires diversity and inclusion. This is likely the biggest change in recent years. Creating more equitable, inclusive environments is viewed as societal progress and should be a very high priority in your annual goals. Keep in mind this takes much more than just a commitment. Your team member experience and your brand must reflect your commitment.

Ultimately, while pay is likely top of mind with employees, it no longer trumps all else. Is the total employee value proposition you’re selling worth buying?

About the Author

Randy O'Connor

Tire and auto industry veteran Randy O’Connor is the Owner/Principal of D2D Development Group (Dealer to Dealer Development Group.) He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, please visit www.d2ddevelopmentgroup.com.