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As the industry grapples with the technician and a general labor shortage, shop owners are increasingly thinking outside of the box to fill their shops' needs. 

For Jeffrey Roy, a look outside the industry helped him find a new rock-star employee .

Roy, the owner of Primary Care Auto in Warwick, R.I., recently went through an expansion and needed to add an employee to keep pace with demand. Instead of trying to poach an employee from another shop or explore candidates that were on the open market, Roy looked elsewhere in the service industry. 

He found the wife of one of his technicians, who after spending years in the restaurant business had recently quit due to burnout. She was working as a cleaner, and after Roy hired her to clean his office and was left impressed, he hired her as an assistant. But quickly her role expanded from there. 

“Within three weeks she was running the place,” Roy said. “I was knocked off my feet.”

Coming from the restaurant industry, the employee was used to a fast-paced environment. She was great with numbers and even better with customer satisfaction. Within three days, she was running Tekmetric. 

“Now she runs the place to a tee, and has better numbers than I ever did. I should’ve walked out of here a long time ago,” Roy said with a laugh. 

Roy could also offer what the restaurant industry couldn’t, the weekends and evenings off. No longer did she have to work on holidays and she could be home every night for her children. That’s an advantage the auto repair world can offer that most other service industries cannot. 

She was doing so well running the shop that Roy was getting bored. It gave him the opportunity to expand and buy into a nearby shop. He’s comfortable delegating all the shop tasks that he was doing himself prior to the hire.  

“Now when I look at somebody in her position I want to get restaurant managers,” he said. “It just makes sense. I never really thought of it until I hired her.”

That’s the challenge shops will need to take on, Roy said, challenging their normal ways of thinking. More technicians and service advisors aren’t magically going to appear, and it seems the shortage is going to be prevalent for a while. Looking to other industries, like the restaurant business, is the way to go. 

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