Automotive Aftermarket Industry Hiring and Retention Insights

Monday, July 29, 2019

By Larissa Somaio, product marketing manager, Auto Care Association

The ever-changing workforce landscape of the auto care industry has been a recurring theme throughout the years at AAPEX education sessions. With high turnover rates, fierce competition for top talent and an industry stigma, companies have struggled to hire and retain employees. Aiming to further comprehend the challenges and possible opportunities presented to aid in increasing rates of hire and retention, Rick Guirlinger and his company Bourke Services, in partnership with Northwood University, released a study in May 2019 entitled the “Automotive Aftermarket Talent Initiative.”

The study presented several pain points when looking at the systems already in place for recruiting and hiring of new talent in the automotive aftermarket industry, highlighting amongst them:

  • Outdated concepts overshadowing the technological advancements of today’s vehicles, leading to incorrect notions about the progression of the industry.
  • Failure to target and reach candidates through generation-appropriate channels.
  • Not clearly conveying company culture to new hires to ensure comfort and fit.
  • Limited availability of sectors with cross-functional skill sets that would allow employees to be well-versed in many areas.
  • Lacking proactive succession planning and use of development plans by human resources.

Ideas and Initiatives: Two Case Studies

Automotive Aftermarket Industry Hiring and Retention Insights

To combat these challenges, Guirlinger and company suggested a few lines of action that can be easily accomplished by companies and individuals in the short term to help bridge some of these gaps. These action items include continuing to cultivate the support of executives currently engaged in the industry to provide insight as well as shape the image of the industry as a whole to help dispel any prior misconceptions that were in place beforehand. Engaging people through social media platforms can also help boost the image of the industry, as well as attract people that aren’t typically targeted such as younger candidates, women and minorities. In a case study on O’Reilly Auto Parts, it was noted that in order to remove any stigma, companies need to reach people through social mediums that are commonly used, to be updated regularly with information regarding employment opportunities, while being interactive and engaging for viewers.

This also would improve the recruitment process at the high school level, creating a more systematic and focused approach to new talent outreach via school-wide sponsored events. In a case study on Tenneco’s eight-week program in partnership with Kellogg Community College, they taught students who had interests in pursuing careers in the industry the necessary skills in high demand for Tenneco. These types of initiatives motivate students to seek higher education to develop the skills needed in the industry, while providing insights to technical, undergraduate and graduate institutions as to what programs should be developed next.

Company Culture is Key

Automotive Aftermarket Industry Hiring and Retention Insights

Demonstrating the company’s culture should be an active and ongoing process, so new hires can determine how to align themselves with the company’s values. Providing cross-functional training can also improve employee retention rates by nurturing career development opportunities that will bring new perspectives to potentially offer solutions to challenges that were faced in the past, as well as current challenges. The inclusion of human resources departments in succession planning helps open the lines of communication and regulate the system for employees assessing their own gaps, as well as their vulnerabilities within the company. Having these resources in place boosts employee satisfaction and allows employees to feel like their company is also investing in them. To read the full report, visit Auto Care’s career tools and resources and click on the “opportunities in hiring” image.

In Action at AAPEX

While at AAPEX, plan to attend the AAPEXedu session, Recruiting & Retaining the Next Generation of Top Talent, from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 6. You’ll learn about innovative ways the aftermarket is finding and keeping great employees and hear directly from industry leaders on the initiatives they’ve implemented, and lessons learned along the way. Remember also to take advantage of a hands-on experience opportunity and bring your young recruits to AAPEX to walk the floors and find out the latest technology trends, interact with industry experts and network with peers.

Larissa Somaio is the Product Marketing Manager for the Marketing Department at the Auto Care Association. In her current role, Somaio is responsible for leading the Auto Care Careers program efforts, supporting member engagement and acquisition initiatives, driving sales of products and services and building association authority.