Recruiting Top Performers: How To Hire What You Want And Need

May 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Don Reed - Also by this author

Do you plan on hiring additional fixed operations personnel this year or possibly replacing someone who currently isn’t getting the job done? I’m talking specifically about technicians, service advisors, parts managers and service managers. If so, do you have a well-thought-out strategy for recruiting top performers?

What is a top performer? It is simply someone who can perform above the industry’s performance guides for the position you wish to fill. These people thrive on performance-based compensation and are looking for more than just a weekly paycheck. They expect to be well-compensated for the above-average efforts that produce above-average results, which usually means more profit for their dealer. To put it another way: you get what you pay for! That being said, how do you find and recruit these top performers? You can be sure they’re not standing in line at the unemployment office or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. They are most likely employed by one of your competitors.

The first step in recruiting for any position is to determine the maximum compensation you are willing to pay to a top performer. Secondly, you must prepare a list of the benefits you can offer this person. Thirdly, you must decide how you are going to search for this person. Let’s look at technicians, for example.

To begin with, determine the W-2 earnings last year for your highest-paid technician. This is probably a technician who has a productivity level of 140 percent or higher. Let’s assume he earned $70,000 for the year. This now becomes the benchmark for the new hire’s compensation.

Next you must define your benefits. Remember that you want to recruit from not only your aftermarket competitors but from other dealers as well, so you must list the benefits of working at your dealership. (See the sample ad below for examples.)

Lastly, you must decide how and where you intend to advertise for this position, which for most of you will be your local newspaper. When advertising in the newspaper, do not buy a 3- or 4-line ad in the help-wanted section. Instead, spend the money to buy a display ad, maybe two columns by five inches.

I know it will cost a lot more than the liner ad, but here again, you get what you pay for. A liner ad will probably produce two or three applicants, whereas a display ad will bring in closer to 10, which of course gives you a lot more candidates from which to choose. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter whether you want to recruit an A-, B- or C-level technician; an effective ad will attract all of them.

To see what the ad content will look like, see the sample ad below:


 Automotive Technicians 

 ALL skill levels Needed 

 Earn Up to


 PAID Health Insurance   No Sundays 
401K Plan   Paid for Training Programs
Professional Work
  Full Appreciation for Work
Terrific Bonus Program   Ohio's Top Pay Plan
No Nights   (Apply In Person)

Obviously, C- and B-level technicians will respond to this ad, and so will A-level technicians who aren’t currently earning $70K a year or who don’t have health insurance or a 401K. Aftermarket technicians will respond as well, attracted by the promise of no nights or Sundays and looking for additional training to increase their skill level.

As you can see, the ad was effective because it was able to attract a wide range of applicants. If you need help designing your recruiting ads, just send me an e-mail ( and I’d be glad to send you some samples.

Everywhere I go, I hear dealers and service managers utter these same words: “Don, you don’t understand; technicians are hard to find.” Well, I do understand this: there are nearly four times as many aftermarket service facilities (over 80,000) as there are new car dealers (about 22,000).  Who do you think employs the majority of the technicians in the work force?

I recommend you strive to recruit aftermarket technicians because most bring some very good work habits with them, such as performing a complete inspection of every vehicle before making repairs. Aftermarket technicians service all makes and models. They are trained on light repairs and maintenance services, which is exactly the kind of work you need in your service department to increase your retail service sales.

Over time, these technicians can become top performers in your dealership. Don’t limit your options when looking for top performers. Be aggressive and open-minded in your recruiting efforts and start growing your service business.

Don’t end up with someone else’s underachiever. Be aggressive, spend a little money and recruit as many applicants as possible, and I’m confident you will be able to hire a top performer.

Vol 5, Issue 4


  1. 1. Joe T. [ June 12, 2012 @ 10:08PM ]

    I don't know about you, but that does not put food on my table or money in my wallet! I went to the store and told the clerk that I was not going to pay for a loaf or bread but I will have "Full Appreciation for a free loaf of bread". I did not leave the store with a loaf of bread.

  2. 2. MIKE D. [ June 28, 2012 @ 08:26PM ]

    You tactics for hiring good talent are kind of old school. As a tech interviewing for a job I always ask what the lowest producer is making. Also a news paper ad filled up with carrot on a stick incentives only fools the untalented personnel.

  3. 3. Walter Turner [ March 13, 2013 @ 02:01PM ]

    Hiring technicians without manufacture training is far too expensive. Getting a New technicians up to Manufacture standards can cost upwards of 35k. Certifications are required to do warranty repairs no exceptions are offered. Ford techs are required to have training in all areas except electrical and brakes, that phases in in June 2013.

    We are help to levels of accountability that has no other options. We in house train techs and worry other dealers will attempt to steal tham away.

  4. 4. Jeff S. [ January 18, 2015 @ 06:05AM ]

    As a certified Chrysler tech ,there is a problem with new techs not taking the heavy work load of warranty repair off the shoulders of certified techs due to they are not Chrysler certified. This situation thus causes moral to go down seeing newbies getting the easy tasks producing the most hours. The industry needs a change before you loose the techs that can do the hard tasks. As it is now getting harder and harder to find those seasoned techs. The new millennial auto technicians want it easy and don't want to learn the hard way (By experience ). Flat rate can be great if efficiency of the work environment was perfect and if all techs were paid "no less for warranty work as opposed to customer pay work" as the ideology intended of the Chrysler dealer policy manual states.


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