Recruiting Auto Repair Techs? It Helps to Have Family.

Dec 16, 2020

If you’re looking to hire an automotive technician, you’ve got a hard job.   And unfortunately, it’s not projected to get better any time soon.  There has been a shortage of new technicians entering the field since at least 2012, ensuring a tight market for years to come.

The best shop owners and managers are doing more than just taking advantage of any hiring opportunities they get – they’re also doing what they can to keep their current employees at the shop as long as possible.  Fortunately, you can do both if everyone knows that your team operates like a family.

Last year, Harvard Business School did in-depth research on the best places to work in America, trying to figure out how great employers see things so differently from other companies.

Some of the biggest differences they found between average companies and great employers were things that you’d expect from a company that views its employees as family members.  Putting people first when it really matters.  Giving employees time to pursue their interests in the course of their job.  Encouraging employees to be themselves, and to be comfortable at work.  Encouraging employees to care about co-workers beyond their job duties.

These aren’t things that franchises or chain dealerships can do easily.  Most corporations pursue quarterly profits above all – that’s what the company’s shareholders expect.  They want employees to work only on tasks that fit their job description, so they can hire a replacement to do the exact same thing when someone leaves.  They often don’t encourage employees to care about each other beyond work – people come and go so quickly that it’s not always worth the effort to invest in each other.

The traits that make a great place to work are the cornerstones of independent shops, where shop owners and managers are focused on their relationships with customers, employees and suppliers.  But they’re just afterthoughts once your company gets so big that individual location managers are focused on hitting the numbers handed down by operations, finance and HR.

Growing a Family

So, if you want hiring to be less of a problem going forward, don’t worry about having the best benefits package or highest salaries. Those things might get employees to take a new job, but they won’t keep them there if they aren’t happy.  Instead, make sure your employees know that when they come into work they’re with family.  Here are a few examples of how to do that.

  • When you know an employee is facing a personal hardship, don’t just offer schedule flexibility, help them get what they need to make it through to the other side.
  • Figure out how each of your employees wants to grow professionally.  Make sure to dedicate some time and money to training them to grow in that area. Then find ways to use those skills to grow your shop or offer new services.
  • Hire positive people who want to make others happy and encourage them to do that by being themselves.  It’s easy to tell when employees are happy and comfortable where they work. It’s even easier to tell when an employee is “grinding the day away” until they can get back home, especially for customers.
  • Encourage your employees to learn about each other, spend time together and care enough about co-workers to help them succeed.  Try to avoid hiring loners or overly self-interested staff members, even if they’re great at what they do.
  • Make sure that each of your employees knows of at least a few times that you invested in them and their happiness or success even when there wasn’t an obvious financial reason for the business to do it.

These things are what keep employees where they are.  When that sky-high salary offer inevitably makes its way to your best employee, they might really want to take it.  But if they feel at home in your shop, they probably won’t.  Because it’s hard to leave family behind.

We recently featured a shop owner on our podcast who has had a great deal of success in recruiting and hiring technicians by taking a very modern approach. Please listen to Recruiting and Hiring Technicians with a Successful Shop Owner.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your auto repair shop earn more customers, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at