More Recruitment Tips from MTD 100 Dealers

July 21, 2022

Where can you find good employees? How do you keep them? More MTD 100 dealers share recruitment and retention tips here.

Jon Langerak, chairman and CEO of Wonderland Tire Co., Byron Point, Mich: “I have not seen it this bad as long as I’ve been in business. It’s been across the board - from office staff to managers and service techs. I think some of it is due to the economy itself. It’s very busy and I think that plays a big part. The other thing is that wages are going up so quickly that trying to stay ahead of it is a problem. 

“In most of the areas where we work, we compete with the construction industry - specifically the housing construction segment. We’re hiring people right now who are having their first full-time job or don’t know anything about the tire industry. And we have to train them. 

“We’re hiring for attitude and the desire to work and are then teaching them how to do the job. If you’re going to put (a new worker) in a service truck, you probably have to put a year’s worth of training into that person before you put them on the road, so they learn in our shop under experienced people. 

“To get people, we’ve tried a couple of things. Over the last four months, we’ve put signing bonuses in place - anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. We have referral bonuses. We’re giving our employees up to $2,000. We’ve raised our starting pay across the board. Last summer, we gave everybody a dollar or two an hour raise and just did that again two months ago. We pay our people incentives and we’ve had to adjust those to retain them.” 

Pete Kearing, president, Holyoke Tire Group,, West Springfield, Mass.: “We’re in a good place, people-wise, but it’s a lot of work to get there. In the old days, you’d throw an ad in the newspaper and get 10 candidates and sort through the best ones. That’s ancient history. 

“There’s a lot of bad policy working against us - handing people checks and encouraging people to stay home. When (someone) watches their buddies making more money sitting at home than they do working their butts off in a tire shop, it’s just bad policy. And we have to react to it. 

“For retention, we do a lot of things. We’re bumping up our pay to make sure we’re competitive, while still having a good incentive system to promote productivity. We’re spending time showing techs what they are really making an hour. With auto techs, we do more of a modified (system). Instead of having a pure flat rate system or a pure hourly system, we give them whatever comes to more. Their wage is based on how good they are. Good techs are making $30-plus an hour because they don’t waste time and they don’t have comebacks. Those guys stick around. But it’s getting guys up to that level that’s the tough part. 

“We have an extensive 401(k). And we don’t just have it. We talk about it. We have almost 100% participation in it and there’s a healthy match. It’s much easier to retain the people you have than trying to recruit. “I consistently call everybody on their birthdays personally. I don’t delegate it. Is that something we would have done in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s? I don’t think so, but we do it now. It’s a lot more of a balancing act than it ever was.” 

Don Mead, CEO of Callaghan Tire, Bradenton, Fla.: “We’ve had times when (the labor shortage) has been really tough. For the most part, we are handling the vast majority of things that come our way, but it’s putting a ton of pressure on our current techs. We’ve even had managers go out and do service calls. 

“We haven’t had the best luck just advertising for (techs.) Most of it is word of mouth or personal relationships. I recently interviewed a guy for a service tech job who’s the son of one of our suppliers. 

“Always be recruiting. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re talking to - you have to always be looking. And we have better luck hiring people who are already working verus people who are unemployed because they’ve already made the decision they want to work. You just have to entice them with the career opportunities you have for them. 

“Over the last month or so, it seems to be better. We don’t have 15 openings for service techs. We have maybe four or five. Where we sit today, we’re not in a terrible situation like (we were) five or six months ago.”

The 2022 MTD 100 can be viewed here, starting on page 34.

Here are links to recently posted MTD 100 articles:

MTD 100 Provides Exclusive Look at Top Dealerships

MTD 100 Dealers Share Tips For Finding Good People

More MTD 100 Dealers Share Recruitment Strategies

MTD 100: Market Forces Push Dealers Into Uncharted Waters

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.