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Recruiting Women into Automotive

In today’s work environment, there is an ever-growing need for skilled labor. It is becoming more transparent that the number of expert craftsmen has seen a steady decline over the past decade. The skill gap is growing at an alarming rate and automotive technicians rank as one of the highest when it comes to workforce shortages. At Vaughan Automotive, a family legacy business in Boerne, Texas, owned by the Vaughan family since 2008, we are dedicated to providing rigorous mentorship programs for students who are willing to commit their time and energy to learning about the automotive industry.  Recruiting Women into Automotive.

These mentorships have led to immense growth within the company and have set students on a career path for life. We particularly strive toward strengthening the female presence within our workplace by developing career paths that give them both training and awareness of all the opportunities within the dealership, which is historically a challenge in the automotive industry. At Vaughan Automotive, we pride ourselves on promoting employees and filling roles solely upon who is the best fit for the position regardless of race, gender or experience. We, as leaders, keep our eyes open in the community for potential candidates.

Farming for Talent

Our Farming for Talent mentorship program is a grassroots commitment that was developed to achieve multi-pronged results. The program’s “growth from within” methodology provides candidates from local high schools, trade schools or associate degree schools with access to a 100-hour internship program, which, once completed, prompts a full scholarship to Toyota’s Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN). This recruiting method works contrary to the industry’s typical practice of drawing in technicians from competing dealerships with the promise of higher pay, and it strays away from the disparate wage issue that runs rampant industrywide. Rather, our method effectively reduces employee turnover, levels set pay and aids in the control of labor costs. This translates to more than 71% of all Vaughan Automotive managers being promoted from within the company. 

When Vaughan took over Mike Calvert Toyota, the second dealership in the Vaughan Automotive portfolio, we immediately implemented the mentorship program by reaching out to Houston-area public schools and colleges. This transition served the dealership exponentially well and restored the dealership’s financial stability. Currently, at any given time, there are 60 plus service technicians and seven interns operating at Mike Calvert Toyota. 

Industrywide, technicians are typically not favorable of change, as this does not reflect traditional practices. In contrast, Farming for Talent generates technicians that are enthusiastic about change. Their enthusiasm correlates with our implementation of more modern practices. Our adoption of a video multipoint inspection process for customers, which was started to further overall credibility in customer service, was accepted wholeheartedly by our program’s technicians. 

Individual Development Program

We also train our ASMs at Toyota of Boerne and Mike Calvert Toyota through an Individual Development Program (IDP), which is a four-month program created by a manager working closely with a staff member to identify the necessary skills and resources to support the staff member’s career goals and the organization’s business needs. We use the IDPs during our one-to-one meetings with sales staff to keep them on task with their monthly goals and accomplishments. Placing an advisor on the front lines without having them trained results in bad CXI, low hours per RO, low margins and a continual building of shortcuts with bad habits to manage the job. Our goal is to avoid the sink or swim method of hiring. ASMs are paid a base salary during this program while they master their skills. 

When it comes to the recruitment of women, I, Carolyn Liotta, have held various positions in automotive sales and finance, including stints as a sales manager and customer relations manager for the past three decades. In my current managerial position, I conduct outreach and actively recruit women into the industry. My mission is to preach the endless opportunities available to women and the extensive number of career paths at their fingertips.

Only 15% of automotive production workers are women, while 85% are men. I frequently reach out to guidance counselors at the Houston and Boerne Independent School Districts, hoping to change that and speak directly to high school girls by sharing my own experiences in the industry, explaining why they should consider its career potential, and working with them on career development and advancement topics. At Vaughan Automotive we have a total of 367 males and 92 females working with us, with the aim to continue to grow that number. 

Recruiting Women into Automotive

Often when I speak directly to these women, I am debunking several myths assumed of this male-dominated industry. A study conducted in 2020 cited multiple reasons for women avoiding careers in the industry, such as a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion, a lack of work-life balance, and a lack of flexible schedules. These beliefs are myths I frequently dispute. By proving my strong commitment to my work and establishing myself as a true contender, I quickly earned my male counterparts’ respect and developed a close camaraderie with my colleagues.

Another myth I often dispel is that an automotive salesperson’s work hours interfere with one’s family life. At the start of my career, I was a single mother raising two daughters. Although my first year was challenging and required sacrifices, the financial success I achieved made them palatable. I was determined to succeed, and not only did I hit my benchmarks, but I also set a strong example for my daughters, demonstrating that they could pursue any career they desired if they worked hard. 

I will always look back on my career and take pride in knowing that I took the path less traveled by women. I have tried to influence, hire and mentor women who will enjoy the same opportunities, growth and financial success that I have enjoyed in my automotive career. People believed in me and gave me opportunities, and I want to do the same. 

Integral to the Success

Recent research has shown that women are integral to the success of automotive businesses and drive 70-80% of automotive sales decisions industrywide. Taking this into consideration not only advances one’s own business but paves the way for progressive female representation within the automotive industry. Our vision in leading efforts to connect with women by bringing them on board to grow with us is the optimal opportunity for our company to advance within the industry. Not only is it the right thing for our company, it’s the right thing for our customers. 

Source: Recruiting Women into Automotive

Vaughan Automotive’s Farming for Talent mentorship program is a grassroots commitment that was developed to achieve multi-pronged results

By Shawn Vaughan and Carolyn Liotta

Shawn Vaughan is the CEO of Vaughan Automotive, a family legacy business in Boerne, Texas; Carolyn Liotta, is director of Hiring and Retention, who says her mission is to preach the opportunities available to women within the industry.

Recruiting Women into Automotive

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