Hiring technicians is the largest challenge many auto repair shops face. For most other shops, it will become their largest problem as soon as they lose an employee. This is the first post in a three-part series on building a strategy to recruit, retain and elevate your technicians.
Many shops are floored with the level of competition in recruiting service technicians. If you’ve needed technicians in the last few months, you’ve probably seen just how difficult it can be to attract qualified, personable people to join your team. The shortage is dire enough that staffing is an issue even for shops that don’t need technicians – because their best team members are being recruited by other shops desperate for help.
Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse. The technicians of today are being pulled in multiple directions by dealerships, independent shops and businesses that need technicians to service their fleets in-house. The technicians of 2021-2025 are being pulled in many other directions. They don’t even know that they’re interested in auto repair – and they may never find out.
High-school and technical school students with an interest in skilled trades are becoming exceedingly rare. They are being recruited by every industry that could use their help, including the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and even industrial mechanical industries. Once they begin a skilled trade path, they will likely transition into that field and continue to develop their skills in that area without ever considering another one.
Most shops have a stated preference for candidates with a certain level of experience. Managers can’t imagine themselves having to take on the added burden of training a first-time employee on the basics of employment on top of auto repair. While they wait for a qualified candidate to come along, they settle for no employee at all, which can force them to turn away business and damage their reputation and their bottom line.
“Green” employees have advantages that employers don’t often consider. While they need to be trained, they don’t need to be retrained, which is generally harder. They don’t have expectations of what it’s like to be in the workforce, and as a result they will often mesh better with your team and have a less entitled attitude. They are also appreciative of the opportunity to bolster their skills, and they’re sometimes more interested in mentorship and career trajectory than a higher starting salary.
Whether you’re having trouble hiring now, or you want to insulate yourself from this challenge in future years, it’s worth your time to explore building a “farm team” of apprentices and trainees that see your shop as a great way to enter the skilled trades workforce. This could be as easy as taking on apprentices who are already going down the path of auto repair. It could also include offering training programs or career presentations through your local community or technical college, or even local high schools.
It’s true that this requires time, which is a valuable commodity for many repair shop owners and managers. It’s also true that this approach may take months (or years, depending on your audience) to yield full-time technicians. Becoming recognized as a top place to start a new career, however, could provide a steady stream of eager, affordable new recruits for years to come. Shops that achieve this goal have one of the biggest competitive advantages in the auto repair industry – the people to get the job done.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your shop earn more business, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.