Recruiting for your body shop: finding the talent you want


Recruitment is the #1 problem facing every business owner today. In every industry, owners struggle to attract, retain and develop new talent. To be successful in today’s work climate, a company must focus on its recruiting practices and consistently put in the work.

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Community relations

DRIVE customer Jimmy Holman of Earhart’s Collision & Automotive Service in Wenatchee, Wash., says he’s been in the recruiting game since he’s been in business. Earhart’s is a family business known for its culture and is a place 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 team know they are lucky to live in such a picturesque town. It’s a nature lover’s dream, with two rivers on either side and an abundance of hiking trails.

One of the greatest tools Holman has when it comes to recruiting is his connections within the community. He worked hard to maintain and grow a network. As a member of the advisory board for the local community college’s automotive program and the high school’s vocational technology center, he has the inside scoop on which student might be his next promising recruit. For more than a dozen years, he has been able to connect with instructors and see students who are “really there” for a career in the repair and collision industries. From there, his mission is to help them in any way possible.

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 store’s training program, you show potential recruits that you care not only about growing your business, but about their personal growth as well. Once you show your employees that you care about them, you can start building loyalty. Another benefit is the ability to turn new talent into the perfect technician for the exact position you need for your workshop.

“While there is a lot of training involved, we understand that from the start,” says Holman. “They just want a chance. If we don’t get more new young technicians into this industry, it will be difficult to find older technicians in the future.

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is the next step. Gen Z and Gen Alpha are starting to enter the workforce and are always willing to do their own research.

One of the important factors during this process is maintaining the store’s image. Owners need to be aware of what their businesses look like, both in person and digitally. A great future team member will research the store before the interview by checking you online and walking past.

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

Compensation

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

Talk to other local businesses to see how they compensate their staff. Ask them how much they pay, if they pay on time, and how they handle bonuses. Once you understand where your store fits in your local market, you can adjust your compensation model from there to be competitive. 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 crème de la crème.

Culture

Company culture is an increasingly important element of recruitment, whatever the sector. When your employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to sing your praises to promising recruits. Word of mouth can be your friend! By simply packing a lunch or taking your team out for coffee, you can create a friendly and supportive environment around your business. When your employees love their workplace, it shows in their performance.

During her experience in the industry, Holman discovered that a gesture can go a long way. His studio had recently hired a new member to fill a drafting position. It was her first job in the industry, but it didn’t take long for Holman to see her potential.

As always, Earhart’s Collision was busy. Holman thought his new recruit would be up for a challenge, so he gave him a bumper covering job on a Honda Accord that had been overbooked. After accessing ALLDATA for the procedures, the newly hired crew member had to borrow the tools from the workshop. Once the job was done, the employee fell in love with similar jobs and looked forward to continuing to take on these new challenges. However, as Christmas approached, he still borrowed tools from the workshop. So, as a bonus and end-of-year gift, the shop gave him his own basic tool kit. When Holman presented it to him, he almost had tears in his eyes.

A few years later, this employee is still working at Earhart. Now, he averages more than 15 hours a week on those jobs in addition to his retail work.

Never stops

The final tip for recruiting in the current climate is to never stop recruiting, even when you’re full. As a business owner, you never want to be in a position where you have to scramble to get a job. When this happens, you usually end up with an acceptable candidate when you would much rather have the perfect candidate. Holman says it was his most common recruiting mistake. His advice when you realize the temp hire was wrong: “Act quickly once you realize; let them know you’re grateful they tried the post, but it just doesn’t work.

Always continue to take applications and resumes from potential recruits. You might even bring them in for an interview. While they’re there, be honest with them and let them know that even if you don’t currently have a position available, they’ll be at the top of your call list when you do. Keep a stack of resumes from hard-working people who are enthusiastic not only about the job, but also about your shop.

Summary

A successful business is one with a competent and enthusiastic team that is always ready to get the job done right the first time. When stores are able to recruit good employees, they are often able to create a positive and cohesive environment.

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