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Published on October 25, 1999

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: FIND GOOD WORKERS

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Sumter, S.C.-based Frasier Tire Co.'s efforts to solve its employment shortage by training and hiring inmates from a local prison illustrates the creative ways dealers are attacking the nationwide personnel problem. More than three-fourths of the dealers surveyed for this year's top independent retailer rankings cited hiring and retaining good employees as one of their most pressing concerns.

The healthy U.S. economy has created an employment situation where even fast food restaurants are offering signing bonuses and health coverage to attract workers.

In such an environment, many tire dealers are resorting to innovative ways to keep valued employees and attract competent new ones.

A dozen or so dealers said they have instituted 401(k) or other retirement programs. Others have expanded their health care programs, are offering stock ownership and are instituting bonuses for technicians and sales staff.

With its turnover of entry level personnel at more than 50 percent, one dealership—Dobbs Tire in St. Louis—has sought help from local trade schools.

Several dealerships offer shorter work hours and flexible work schedules.

Some dealerships, including smaller ones, have hired full-time personnel managers and stepped up in-house training programs.

Such programs not only help attract and retain good employees but promote tire dealerships as good places to work.

Today's era of high employment has made it a nightmare for many businesses to find and retain qualified workers. Dealerships that make their businesses attractive places to work will have an advantage in the competition for employees.

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