By: Taylor Dobson, Employee Experience Manager
Over the past decade, the collision repair industry has faced multiple challenges, but none have been as lingering - or as frightening - as the labor shortage. The annual demand for new entrant technicians in 2022 was over 35,000, but there were only 4,500 graduates from post-secondary collision programs to fill those open roles. (Read more on this in our Crash Course 2023 report).
While addressing the ongoing labor shortage challenge is a top priority for shops, it’s important not to let it put you in a scarcity mindset. This tends to happen when resources are limited, causing you to react with short-term thinking instead of carefully planning for the future.
“…but they’ll just leave.”You may have heard this one before or even thought about it yourself. Fear-based thinking sounds like this: “If I invest in someone, they will take advantage of me or leave me for a competitor.”
Sure, there may be cases where someone takes the training and runs, but this fear doesn’t always materialize and shouldn’t be the reason you abandon training entirely.
“…but they can just work harder.”When you operate from a place of fear, or even stress, you are operating under the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result.
You may try to solve the staffing shortage in the short-term – by asking your team to work overtime, extending open hours, and asking employees to "wear multiple hats." But what you’re signaling to your employees is that their time isn’t worth your investment. Or worse, the bottom line, money, is more important than their individual well-being.
While it may be difficult to change your mindset, it’s going to be critical to your shop’s long-term success. Managing human capital resources to optimum levels is no easy task. It is, however, the only way to turn those resources into assets for growing your business.
Long-Term Thinking Success: Training as a Retention Tool
I’ve always wanted “more” in my career, I’m a millennial, (please hold judgment until after you finish the article). I have always known I was meant to make an impact. I shared this with my managers, and they fed this belief and offered me an incentive: training. They emphasized how important I was, how much potential they saw in me, and how they would ultimately invest in me. Giving me a glimpse into what a future could look like with their company and their support.
Training isn’t a tool for people to leave your shop – it’s a tool for employee retention.When you position training as a reward, you’re elevating your top talent, which sends a powerful message about your work culture. The employees you value will feel heard, seen, and appreciated. And they’re less likely to leave you for an extra dollar per hour at the shop down the street.
Find resources that work for your shop online or in person. I-CAR, for example, has an entire ADAS hub dedicated to the latest trends in scanning and calibrations. Plus, you can look to your OEMs or partners like CCC for additional resources. There are even Automotive Management Leadership courses available to you. Weigh your options, outline your budget, and what makes sense for you and your team.
Most importantly, involve your employees. Identify what ignites their experience and passion – and build on that. Regularly check in with those in training and provide time for them to share their takeaways with the team. This is what will build your reputation as the ONLY place to work.
Learning and development is an important part of the employee experience, and offering technician training not only demonstrates your investment in your employees, but your commitment to providing safe, quality repairs.