Opportunity in a Time of Crisis
COVID-19 has presented us with unprecedented challenges. Fortunately, for the most part, the auto repair industry has been spared from its deepest shock waves. However, history has taught us when there is a crisis, there is also opportunity. As we navigate our shops through these uncertain times, we must maintain perspective and seek the opportunities this crisis presents us with.
One area where opportunity will become abundant will be the potential to recruit top talent. This may be the best chance in years for us to attract and recruit the best talent in technicians, advisors or even management positions. Thousands of employees have been furloughed or laid off. Even the ones still employed may have changed the way they feel about their current employer. I hear grievance stories from workers at other shops or franchised dealerships about how they were treated during this crisis. These stories are coming from people that—up until now—were 100 percent loyal and very content.
This is an incredible opportunity, especially for independent shop owners that have gone above and beyond to ensure their staff members have felt safe and remained employed over the last several weeks. They will always remember how we all handled this crisis.
So how can we capitalize on this talent opportunity?
1. Reach out to people in your talent pipeline
Send out an email or text message to everyone to see how they are doing. Last week, I sent a short email out to everyone in my own talent pipeline just asking how everyone was holding up and also letting everyone know that we continued to remain open as it was our priority to keep our workers working while taking any necessary safety precautions. Within hours, I received over 30 responses. This can be the fastest way to making your next hire. I have been able to hire my last two technicians months, and even years, after receiving their initial application. Keeping in contact with your pipeline a few times a year is a great thing to do to cultivate a relationship anyways so make this good habit. You never know when you will be ready to call upon them so it is important to nurture the relationships, even while they are on the sidelines.
If you have yet begun to build your talent pipeline, post a job ad now. I know every job market is different, but I have had success with Indeed, Facebook, and even Craigslist in the past. We should always have an employment ad running anyways so that we grow our pipeline. If you do not have an ad currently running, now’s the time to get started. Online job searches are currently surging with millions of people looking for jobs.
In either utilizing your pipeline or creating a new job ad, build a message that highlights your shop’s vision, mission, and values. This is really important right now. Emphasize the humanity aspect of your business. Create something that will spark interest among potential candidates and get them to think “wow....now this is the right company for me.”
COVID has reminded us of the value of people and their relationships with them. Just as small community banks have recently gained strong recognition in the way they cared for small businesses during the PPP applications, the same ideology can give independent repair shops a clear competitive advantage over large dealerships when it comes to recruiting right now. People want to be treated much better than just a number. For those shops that not only survived this crisis but excelled in taking care of their people, they have put themselves in the very front of the line and will be able to choose and recruit from an abundance of talent to help take their repair shops to the next level.