Recruiting for Your Auto Body Shop: Getting the Talent You Want

Recruiting for Your Body Shop: Getting the Talent You Want

Businesses today need to be laser-focused on their recruiting practices and constantly refining them to get the kind of employees they want.

Recruiting is the No. 1 issue every business owner is facing today. In every industry, owners are struggling to attract, keep and train new talent. To be successful in today’s job climate, a business needs to be laser-focused on its recruiting practices and constantly putting work into them.

Community Relationships

DRIVE client Jimmy Holman of Earhart’s Collision & Automotive Service in Wenatchee, Wash., says he has been part of the recruiting game for as long as he has been in business. Earhart’s is family-owned and known for its culture and is a place where its employees and others want to work.

With Wenatchee known as the apple capital of the world for its many beautiful orchards, Holman and his crew know they’re lucky to live in such a picturesque city. It’s a dream for nature lovers, with two rivers on either side and an abundance of hiking trails.

One of the biggest tools Holman has when it comes to recruiting is his relationships within the community. He has worked hard to maintain and develop a network. As a member of the advisory board for both the local community college’s automotive program and the high school’s vocational technology center, he has the inside scoop on which student could be his next promising hire. Over more than a dozen years, he has been able to create a bond with the instructors and see the students who are “really there” to make a career in the repair and collision industries. From there, his mission is to help them along any way he can.

Training

Hiring younger technicians often comes with the responsibility of on-the-job training, which can be a great incentive for newcomers. By promoting your shop’s training program, you’re showing potential hires that you not only care about your business’s growth but their personal growth as well. Once you show your employees you care, you can start cultivating loyalty. Another plus is the ability to mold new talent into the perfect technician for the exact position you need for your shop.

“Although there is a lot of training involved, we understand that up front,” says Holman. “They just want a chance. If we don’t get more new young techs in this industry, then it’s going to be hard to find older techs in the future.”

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is the next step. Members of Generation Z and Generation Alpha are starting to make their way into the workforce, and they’re always ready to do their own research.

One of the important factors during this process is maintaining the shop’s image. Owners should be cognizant of what their businesses look like, both in-person and digitally. A great future team member will research the shop before the interview by checking you out online and driving by.

The younger future techs in these new generations have grown up with smartphones in their hands. Before the interview with your shop, they’ll have already Googled you and checked out your social media platforms. That’s why it’s important to make sure your image reflects how amazing your shop truly is. Your social media platforms should be active, and your website should be up-to-date and have reviews that reflect how great your shop is. When your business looks busy, productive and well-run, you’re more likely to attract terrific crew members.

Compensation

Make sure to reevaluate your pay structure as you continue to grow your business. Even before Holman started working with Earhart’s, he knew his fellow shops, since he was an estimator with a major insurance company. Since then, he has worked hard to maintain those connections.

Talk with other local businesses to see how they compensate their staff. Ask them how much they pay, if they pay hourly and how they handle bonuses. Once you understand where your shop stacks up in your local market, from there you can adjust your compensation model to be a competitive one. With so many positions open, future team members now have the luxury of being selective. Paying people well and fostering a healthy environment will ensure you get the cream of the crop.

Culture

Company culture is an increasingly important part of recruiting, no matter the industry. When your employees feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to sing your praises to promising hires. Word of mouth can be your friend! Just by catering lunch or taking your team out for coffee, you can create a friendly and favorable environment around your business. When your employees love the place they work, it shows in their performance.

Over his time in the industry, Holman has found that one gesture can go a long way. His shop had recently hired a new member to fill a detailer position. This was his first job in the industry, but it didn’t take long for Holman to see his potential.

As always, Earhart’s Collision was busy. Holman thought his new hire would be up for a challenge, so he gave him a bumper cover job on a Honda Accord that had been overbooked. After accessing ALLDATA for the procedures, the newly hired crew member had to borrow the shop’s tools. When the job was completed, the employee fell in love with similar jobs and was eager to continue finishing these new challenges. However, as Christmas approached, he was still borrowing the shop’s tools. So, as an end-of-year bonus and gift, the shop gave him his very own basic tool kit. When Holman presented it to him, he nearly had tears in his eyes.

It’s a few years down the line, and this employee still works at Earhart’s. Now, he’s averaging over 15 hours of work a week on these jobs along with his detailing work.

Never Stop

The final tip for recruiting in today’s climate is to never actually stop recruiting, even when you’re fully staffed. As a business owner, you never want to be in a position where you have to scramble to fill a spot. When that happens, you’re usually left with an acceptable applicant when you would much rather have the perfect one. Holman says that this used to be his most common recruiting mistake. His advice for when you realize the stop-gap hire wasn’t right: “Act quickly once you realize; let them know you’re thankful they tried the position out but it’s just not working.”

Always continue to take applications and resumes from potential hires. You could even have them come in for an interview. While they’re there, be honest with them and let them know that, while you don’t currently have a position available, they’ll be at the top of your call list when you do. Save a stack of resumes of hardworking people who are enthusiastic not only about the job but your shop as well.

Summary

A successful business is one with a competent, eager crew that’s always willing to get the job done right the first time. When shops are able to recruit good employees, they’re often able to create a positive and cohesive environment.

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