ATI Offers Employee Engagement Tips

Nov. 3, 2023
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) teamed up with the Automotive Training Institute Inc. (ATI) at the 2023 SEMA Show for a seminar on employee engagement.

“We leave our legacy through our leaders, so we need to make sure we are training our leaders up right,” says Kevin Allen, executive coach for ATI, who spoke at the seminar.

Allen encouraged tire dealers to bring up their employees to be the next leaders in their businesses by encouraging and supporting them.

“For the first time in history, there are more jobs than people,” says Allen.

“So you need your employees more than they need you. They can walk out and find another job. Hw do we retain our employees and keep them happy? I follow a guideline of the four C’s: communication, connection, commitment and care.”

Importance of engaged employees

According to statistics provided by ATI, engaged employees are more successful, are more productive, provide better customer service and create a positive business culture.

“The problem is, unengaged employee numbers are rising and engaged employee numbers are falling,” says Allen.

Allen gives an example of what it would be like to lose a tire technician for a whole month.

“Let’s say your labor rate is $150 and it's split 50/50 between parts and labor. Not having a tech in a bay for only one month is $51,600 loss of profit per month,” he explains.

“Techs are hard to find. Love and engage the ones you have.” 


The first C that Allen focuses on is communication and he recommends starting communication with your team through the company’s mission statement.

“If you don’t blatantly tell your employees what the mission statement is, then how are they going to know what the company stands for and wants to achieve?” asks Allen.

Employees also need feedback, according to Allen.

“Research has shown that people ask themselves two questions almost constantly: 'How am I doing and what's next?'

Allen recommends setting up one-on-one meetings with your employees to offer them feedback and answer these questions for them. He also recommends bigger team meetings.

“A daily huddle meeting with your whole team, every morning, will get everyone on the same page and address any problems are challenges before the workday starts,” he says.

“Having habitual meetings and communication with your team like this also provides a measurement for improvements.”


In order for a team to be a positive team they need to connect, according to Allen. “Connect outside of work with your employees. Do team building exercises."

Examples of team-building exercises include escape rooms, sporting events, Top Golf, trivia nights and more.

“There is also a team building exercise called the 'Three H’s' that I think is very beneficial for team members to do,” he says.

The Three H’s exercise has all the employees answer three questions with another team member. The questions are:

  • Who is your hero?
  • Share a hardship you had this year;
  • And share a highlight of this year.

“How are you going to say you know your employees if you don’t know what makes them a person and what they care about most?”


“Every year, I challenge my team members to pick a word of the year and then really focus on living that word out for the year,” says Allen.

“What do you want your driving force to be? Ask your employees this and then hold them accountable throughout the year to stick to their word.”

Accountability can’t happen, though, if connection and communication aren’t there.

“If your employees know you love them and genuinely care for them, they will allow you to hold them accountable,” he says. “If they don’t and you try to hold them accountable, they will just shut down and become defensive.”

Allen says he follows the ABC rule when it comes to holding employees accountable.

“A is for appreciation. Start the conversation with a positive and let them know you see their good work.

“Next, is B for be real. Turn the discussion into what isn’t going well. Bring up the paint point here, but don’t give them a compliment and then say ‘but...’ because then the whole compliment goes out the window.

"Finally, C is for curious questions. Ask how they could have delivered a better outcome and brainstorm ideas for them to succeed.”


Holding employees accountable is important, but Allen says it is equally important to recognize your employees for their hard work.

“There are so many ways you can recognize your employees,” he continues.

“Recognize their performance, recognize their tenure at your company. It can even be non-work related. Recognize their life celebrations, like marriages or child/grandchild arrivals.

"You can also recognize them for wellness initiatives. If someone stops smoking, recognize that. If someone is making healthy choices to live a healthier life, recognize that!”

Allen says employee validation is especially important and it needs to be “positive, often, from the heart and habitual.” 

About the Author

Madison Gehring | Associate Editor

Madison Gehring is Modern Tire Dealer's associate editor. A graduate of Ohio State University, Gehring holds a bachelors degree in journalism. During her time at Ohio State, she wrote for the university's student-run newspaper, The Lantern, and interned at CityScene Media Group in Columbus, Ohio.