FALMOUTH, Maine (Aug. 17, 2009)—Haley's Tire & Service Center has fared “OK” this year, maintaining its auto service business while tire volume has fallen off.
“People are holding onto their money, being a little more cautious of what they are spending…. We've always done well with automotive service and repair.
“We've maintained consistency this year with the last three to four years,” said owner Tim Haley.
The Falmouth-based business, which operates four stores in Maine with 45 employees and generates $5 million in sales, was able to give some raises based on performance and has hired people as needed.
This year Mr. Haley estimates he hired between six and 10 employees. He has not seen the anticipated surge in out-of-work car dealership technicians in the aftermath of General Motors Corp.'s and Chrysler Group L.L.C.'s terminating some of their dealer franchises.
The dealership's pay scale is based on the economic environment, and the company tries to be competitive with other dealerships in the market and with other retailers. Mr. Haley said his company pays higher than minimum wage, with the lowest paid employee making $10 to $12 an hour.
The dealership pays commissions for various positions, although Mr. Haley said he is reviewing whether to switch to a flat-rate pay in an effort to be more efficient.
For store managers, the pay range is $40,000 to $70,000; auto technicians (there is no differentiation between ASE-certified or not) get commissions at an hourly rate plus incentives based on productivity and no comebacks, for an average pay range of $30,000 to $50,000; tire service techs are paid hourly for an annual range of $20,000 to $30,000; and salespeople are paid $25,000 to $40,000.
Haley's Tire offers a full benefits package, including 401(k) retirement plan, health insurance, paid vacations and accrued paid sick time. The dealership also gives cash Christmas gifts based on the profit of the company for that year.
“We try to make sure we are competitive within the field,” Mr. Haley said. “We're finding the initiative for young people to get into the business is a lot less than it was.” He noted that trade schools and training in automotive service have “diminished.”
“We have to train within more than we ever have. We have to home grow people, which isn't a bad thing because we create some loyalty as well,” he said. The company's biggest turnover rate is in the tire changer position.
Haley's Tire had considered opening additional outlets earlier this year but the plans fell through. Real estate prices are still too high in Maine, he said. While he still will consider opportunities for expansion if the price is right, “outfitting a new location (with qualified employees) is a big concern of mine,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a mid-sized dealership chain has experienced a rollercoaster ride in its sales this year. The dealership had one of its best July selling months after having one of its worst June sales periods. However the dealership's president, who wanted to remain anonymous, didn't have an explanation for the erratic consumer spending.
“In this part of the country we never had a boom, so we never had a bust,” he told Tire Business. Since the local economy never had robust growth in recent years, when the recession hit the country, the local market wasn't as severely impacted, he added. “The economy still looks bad. But a few years ago, (when other markets were flourishing) we really looked bad.”
During the year, the dealership has both hired and laid off employees, as well as given raises to some and cut pay for others—but these actions were based on performance and considered “business as usual.” The company has given bonuses in the past and plans to give bonuses this year.
The company pays 60 percent of employees' health insurance, offers profit sharing to managers and provides a 401(k) retirement plan with no guarantee of matching contributions from the company, although it has put in money in the past.
The owner declined to give pay ranges for his employees but said the dealership does generally offer higher pay for ASE certification. Pay scales are based off the market averages.
The dealership has seen an increase in job applications from disenfranchised car dealership technicians. In the past, it could take a year to find a qualified technician, the dealer said, but now the company receives a number of applications. However, he added that he hasn't seen an abundance of master technician applications.