In a world where consumers can influence a company’s success based on how share-worthy their experience is, it is crucial that owners employ top talent, as together, they are the ones who make the repair experience for a customer.
Unfortunately, collision repairers across North America have been struggling to recruit and retain top talent in recent years. The Collision Repair Education Foundation’s new 2019 survey helps provide some insight into the technician landscape. Notable, is the rate of technicians leaving the industry and rate of technicians retiring, which have both increased. The lack of development in technicians over 50 years old also remains a concern as the average age of technicians continues to increase, now at 41.
In addition to general industry shortage, finding the increasingly rare A-Tech is now a continuous chore for most owners. A-Techs are licensed journeymen who have the experience to perform all aspects of the collision repair process to include parts replacement, frame and structural repairs, as well as any mechanical work associated with the repair process. Most facilities cite the need for several A-Techs in their repair center as they do majority of the work, with B- and C-Techs supporting when they can. However, if the quantity of these “good technicians” continues to decrease, why do our businesses continue to rely on them so heavily?
Rather than embarking on a never-ending search for the highly trained and sought after A-Techs, owners have the opportunity to make a change on their workflows to better equip themselves for the way the industry is already moving. Owners can empower B- and C-Techs with additional responsibilities and have A-Techs perform quality control checks for each step in the repair process.
Of course, it will take time to implement and productivity may even slip as you work to get your new segmented-workflows in place. However, this sets a repair center up for better long-term success as it equips more technicians with a variety of key skills and prevents a repair center from shutting down if one of these key employees goes on vacation or resigns.
If your technician shortage is not just limited to A-Techs, but all technicians, below are some additional tips that can help you recruit and retain top talent in your area:
- On the job training: although you may be in need of an experienced technician now, investing in people outside of the industry and providing on the job training is an alternative way to build talent. Oftentimes, employees will be grateful for the opportunity that owners took a chance on them, causing them to stay with repair center that gave them their “big break”.
- Create a positive work environment: being sure you keep your current employees happy is important as your business is nothing without them and word of mouth is a strong tool. Paying technicians well, providing benefits, offering employee appreciation gestures are all things owners can implement to keep existing employees and create that word-of-mouth buzz that your facility is a great place to work.
- Keep a tidy facility: Maintain a clean, professional and inviting space, not just at reception, but also in the actual shop, office and in the employee break room. Removing clutter and waste helps ensure you are in adherence with safety and workplace regulations while also making sure the place staff spend 8+ hours of their day is a pleasant one.
- Implement 360 performance reviews: build trust with your employees through 360-degree performance reviews where staff review management on performance. This opens up the review process to a conversation and provides employees the opportunity to give their feedback on their experiences on a regular basis, so management can make changes before the environment gets too negative causing staff to leave.
- Getting involved with local vocational schools: with some schools suffering from budget cuts to their collision repair programs, it is important to help sponsor these schools so they can continue to educate those in your area. Additionally, creating that brand awareness nearby will help students when they are looking for work when school is finished, as they will remember you as a champion of their program.
- Learn from your colleagues: a franchise family like CARSTAR hosts “EDGE Performance Group” meetings, which facilitate best practice sharing among owners for a variety of business challenges, including employee retention and recruitment strategies. With these groups consisting of owners from across regions, recruiting can even be a collective effort.
The CARSTAR network of franchise owners also has exclusive access to CARSTAR University, which houses hundreds of key training materials, including webinars on how to find and keep good technicians. To bring additional support like this and more to your facility or to find more information on joining the CARSTAR family as a local owner and operator, call 844-906-9764 or visit CARSTARFranchise.com.