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R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ask the Industry: How to Find Great Employees

When it comes to news coverage about employment issues in the automotive industry, we typically hear of plant layoffs or the much talked about technician shortage. With all the negative press these days, we thought it might be time to focus on something a bit more positive. We asked a repair shop owner, a part store manager and an HR director for an aftermarket software company: “What channels does your company use to attract and retain the best and brightest young professionals?”

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AKRON , OH When it comes to news coverage about employment issues in the automotive industry, we typically hear of plant layoffs or the much talked about technician shortage. With all the negative press these days, we thought it might be time to focus on something a bit more positive. We asked a repair shop owner, a part store manager and an HR director for an aftermarket software company: “What channels does your company use to attract and retain the best and brightest young professionals?”

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Here’s what they had to say:

Kevan Butler , director of HR, Mitchell 1: Mitchell 1 has a very successful referral reward program. This means that employees and customers can refer candidates and receive a referral reward. We have also found great success in not only posting open positions online with the major recruitment sites, but we also have the capability to search for resumes on some of the major online databases. This search capability enables us to search by a wide variety of variables so we can pinpoint a specific skill set, background, location, etc.

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Retention of the best and the brightest is always a challenge in this day and age. If compensation and benefits are competitive, then the best way to retain your brightest employees is to provide them with challenging projects and give them a clear career path for future growth.

Dennis Call, Sanel Auto Parts, Pittsville, NH: It’s unfortunate, but in our business, young people today are not interested in this field. It’s a challenging career. We often get the ‘computer geeks’ who won’t go beyond what the computer says, won’t look in a paper catalog. You have to have the right frame of mind, and want to be in this field. You have to want to be a problem-solver and you have to be somewhat mechanically-inclined.

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Steve Weber, S&S Service, Buffalo , NY : We try to “fertilize” our own in house with professional development. We offer the highest labor rate in our area; we pay for training and all ASE testing. We also give bonus incentives for attending training. We offer gift certificates and movie tickets to their wives to use while they are attending training classes.

We’re fortunate to have three great guys in our shop right now – one who has been with us for 20 years, one for 16 years and the other for 14 years. We’re looking to hire another tech right now, but it’s been a headache trying to find the right one. We typically go to the vo-tech schools in our area to recruit, but here’s the problem: The guidance counselors are still sending the troubled kids into vo-tech because they don’t know where else to put them. They [the guidance counselors] don’t understand that a career as a technian takes math and computer skills. It starts at the high school level. That’s the problem.

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Summary by Amy Antenora, Editor:

We hear time and time again that young employees today don’t have the passion and loyalty that their superiors hope they would possess. It is important however not let a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

There are numbers of organizations dedicated to developing the aftermaket’s future talent pool – Northwood University, AYES and UTI, just to name a few. There are also thousands of dollars made available through scholarships every year, and there are students using this financial aid to study and eventually work in the automotive aftermarket industry. The young talent, while hard to find, is out there, they just don’t know how to find you. Aftermarket companies must take a more proactive approach to ensuring their own future success by making sure automotive students know there are good, attractive jobs out there.

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