This week guest: Maryellen Adams, HR business partner at Lithia Motors

What is the most challenging trend you and your team see with respect to recruiting Technicians in today's market over the next few years?

It’s no secret that recruiting quality Automotive Technicians is consistently a challenge for all dealers. Certainly, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem but is not the core of the issue. For years we have seen a significant decrease in students entering the automotive industry as they have been geared towards attending four year colleges and less and less into skilled trade curriculums.

Currently, the most difficult challenge is finding mid-level Technicians, critical to reconditioning used cars. With new car inventory being low, like most dealers, we have focused on used cars, requiring more skilled Technicians who can help us get our inventory front line ready. Training up our Technicians is essential however, with the increase in used car volume, keeping up with staffing an adequate number of those Technicians is tough.

Over the next few years, training Technicians will be critical, especially with the electrification of vehicles. It will certainly change the Technician’s job. Strong computer skills will be essential. Hopefully, students will soon take notice that cars today and especially the cars of the future will be primarily built around computer technology and software and entice a new generation into the industry. alleviating the headwinds we face in recruiting and retaining Technicians today.

What skills do you believe are in higher demand today and in the future as we see an ever increasing influence on our business from data and digital tools?

Critical thinking, computer technology, communication, and the ability to adapt will be skills even more essential to our industry as it evolves. The need for reshaping the industry to better meet the needs of the consumer will require a workforce of collaborators and problem solvers. The ability to utilize data to improve outcomes will be critical in meeting the needs of our customers.

How do you see consolidation in the retail dealership arena impacting the need for talent and development of that talent in the future?

From a talent and development perspective, there will always be a need for good, talented, people post-acquisition. As the industry consolidates, I think that there is a great opportunity to provide additional tools and resources for employees to develop and grow their careers in ways that they may have never imagined. While the thought of consolidation may initially be unsettling to some, as the groups become larger, there will be more and different opportunities available for talented individuals to support the growth.

What is the most exciting/initiative happening at Lithia today and how it will impact your business operations and/or personnel?

There are so many incredible things happening at Lithia & Driveway today! Besides record breaking growth, catapulting us to #158 on the Fortune 500 List, our digital innovation with the introduction of our Driveway platform is revolutionizing the way we buy, sell and service cars. With Driveway and Driveway Finance, it has never been easier for consumers to buy, sell, finance, or set up service for their car from the comfort of their own home! This exciting initiative is part of our relentless pursuit of meeting our customers’ needs while setting our sights on being the # 1 Automotive Retailer in the Nation!

Our Mission Statement is “Growth Powered by People” and the very center of our company’s growth. Over the past year, our expansion has created an abundance of new jobs to power our exponential growth. We will continue to hire new team members as we continue to grow. It is an exciting time to join the Lithia & Driveway team with so many opportunities for our people!