In her 30 years in the auto industry, Julie Herrera has learned several tricks of the trade. One piece of advice she has for other dealers: When hiring, hire service technicians first.
"If you're getting an opportunity on a new point or a buy-sell, start immediately with securing technicians," said Herrera, dealer principal of Toyota of Cedar Park outside Austin, Texas.
That's because it takes longer to find and develop them, she said.
For Herrera, 54, training and retaining technicians has always been a point of focus — especially since opening Toyota of Cedar Park in May 2017, after the automaker approved her application for an open point.
"I know what each of their stalls, each of their bays, make per month for the store, and how they help us retain our customers by knowing their jobs," Herrera said.
One of the first things she did was visit area high schools, joined by her parts and service director and shop foreman. Two miles from the dealership is Rouse High School, which has an automotive tech program.
Toyota of Cedar Park has since become involved with that program, and aspiring technicians who graduate from the school are invited to join the dealership for additional training, Herrera said.