More MTD 100 Dealers Share Recruitment Strategies

July 18, 2022

In this exclusive, more tire dealers from the 2022 MTD 100 share real-world solutions for employee recruitment and retention.

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

John McCarthy, president, McCarthy Tire Service Co. Inc., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.: “Since March 2020, when COVID-19 first hit, it’s been a challenge. But to say we were fully staffed before that, we couldn’t say that. It’s been going on longer, but it got much worse when COVID-19 hit. It’s tough to find people. 

“One thing we’ve done is we’ve expanded our recruiting team. We’ve added another full-time recruiter so we now have three full time recruiters who do nothing but find talent for our locations. They do a great job. They’re so enthusiastic and into it that it’s really made a difference recently. 

“One thing we’ve come up with is easier, faster pre-employment drug screening. We’ve transitioned to rapid testing when we can - just like a rapid test for COVID-19. Before, we’d hire somebody and call a place to set a screen up. They’d give you a date three days out and that person would find another job in the meantime and we’d lose them. So where appropriate, we do a rapid test and will have an answer back within 15 minutes. We can give (the new hire) a start date right at that time. We expedite the process. 

“Another thing we do is what we call fast reaction to candidates. People are usually contacted the day they apply if they’re qualified. We want to get right back to them. 

“Another thing is our social media push - getting the word out that we’re hiring. And another thing is onsite job fairs. We’ve done a few and have gotten some good feedback. We’re doing them ourselves. Our own recruiting staff runs it. 

“One of the last things we’re doing is an expanded referral bonus program. If they can bring us names and these people work out, (our employees) get a bonus. 

“We also just increased our portion of our 401(k). Our hourly rates are very competitive. And creating a good work culture (is key.) You can have the best pay, but if you don’t have the right culture, people in this day and age will not be interested in staying. You’re more of a coach these days than you are a boss.”

John Marshall, vice president of Grismer Tire Co., Dayton, Ohio: “The last couple of months, (the labor shortage) has gotten slightly better, but that’s very slight. The main thing we’re fighting is trying to get enough tradespeople - specifically technicians. The whole industry is being hit with the fact that a lot of technicians presently in the business are retiring and not enough young people are getting into it. 

“We’re working with high schools and trade schools to find people and we’re doing quite a bit more in-house training. But it’s a struggle. It’s getting harder because everybody is after the same pool. Our direct competition is faced with the same problem. Car dealers are faced with it. Nobody has a solution. I believe it’s something we will fight for quite awhile. But on the other side of the coin, I guess you could say that’s capitalism at its best. 

“For the most part, we’re at a five-day work week. Everybody’s salary has gone up. We’ve increased our training to bring the caliber of the people we have up to a higher standard - (enabling) them to do different types of jobs. And the way things are changing, that’s going to be more and more necessary with advancements in technology on newer cars

Beth Barron, CEO of Chabill’s Tire & Auto Service, Morgan City, La.: “It’s been a rough road here - more so it seems in the last six to eight months. In our area. we’re fighting (the impact of Hurricane Ida.) It came through last August, with a bunch of people displaced, so there are less people in the workforce than prior to the storm.

“It’s mostly entry-level and general service techs we’re looking for. I think some of it has to do with kids coming out of school who are not interested in pursuing the trade professions. Trade school enrollment is down in Louisiana. 

“The other side of it is our business is really good and we need more people than we ever have needed to keep up with demand. It’s a good problem to have, but finding good applicants remains difficult. 

“We’re doing things to try to attract people to our business. We went to a five-day work week. I had someone come to work for us who said the main reason he applied is because he likes the five-day work week. From a retention perspective, I think it’s helped us to a greater degree. We’ve always had turnover in entry-level positions. But for other positions - management, service advisors and technicians - I think it has helped us a lot. And it helps with morale - knowing they’re working really hard for five days and having those two days off. 

“I think employees are different now - especially young people coming into the workforce. Things that are important to them are not the same things that were important to the older generation. Some don’t care as much about money, Some care more about time off and feeling that they are appreciated. 

“Different things motivate different people. And I think things are shifting and changing. That’s why we’re trying to provide more in terms of employee benefits and recognition. Employees are the lifeblood of our business and it is important that they are well-compensated and feel valued.”

Bill Bainbridge, vice president, marketing and business development, CJ’s Tire & Automotive Inc., Birdsboro, Pa.: “The most challenging thing we (face) is keeping our stores fully healthy, if you will, with employees. They’re hard to come by. 

“And from a general service technician standpoint … they’ll move for another 25 cents an hour. It’s pretty surprising. 

“Some people are looking for non-physical jobs as opposed to physical jobs. Sometimes I feel like there are a lot of people who are holding out for something different than the entry-level jobs we have in our warehouses and in our retail stores. 

“We’re trying to emphasize careers, rather than just jobs. Even at the entry-level, we’re doing our best to show people, ‘If you join us and stay with us, here are the things we’ll do to help your career along and show you some advancement opportunities so you can grow with the company.’ 

“We try to tell that story during the interview process. Some of our employees have had nice progressions in their careers here and we try to focus on that

“We’ve changed our wage scale a little bit. For certain positions, we’ve offered some hiring - as well as longevity - bonuses. Over the last couple of months, we’ve offered additional training - making sure we’re doing all that we can to help them do the job most efficiently and safely and make the work environment as good as it can be. 

“But we’re certainly seeing fewer applicants, especially in entry-level jobs. Those (workers) seem to be more transient than they ever have before. We’re all trying different things. We’re constantly looking at what we’ve done and saying, ‘Well, this didn’t work, so let’s try something different.’ But we haven’t found the formula yet.”

Click here to read the first installment in this series. Stay tuned to as more MTD 100 dealers share their strategies.

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.