Successful Recruiting Begins in the Mirror

Aug. 10, 2021
Here are the biggest questions you need to ask yourself during this difficult hiring season.

As we interview shop owners across the country, many owners have expressed their biggest concern about the future of our industry as the shortage of technicians and that they believe it is now at critical mass.

In my previous articles, I’ve talked about what the customer wants. This month, I need to shift and talk about what employees want and how we can make ourselves more attractive to technicians. The reality is that there genuinely is a shortage of qualified labor, and not just in the automotive world. No matter where you live, right now many other industries are suffering an employee shortage.

Another reality is that there are indeed enough good employees to fill your shop, but, unfortunately, the folks you need happen to be working for a different company right now. So, what are you going to do to draw them into your organization?

We have to start by looking in the mirror and asking some tough questions. For example, my friend and colleague Ron Haugen, former shop owner and current director of marketing for the Transformers Institute, always asks our clients two things when it comes to marketing:

  • Does your service level match your marketing message?
  • Does your marketing message pass the "so what" test?

The same questions need to be asked when it comes to recruiting!

One of the core values at my company, Aspen Auto Clinic, is to be the "Employer of Choice." Having this core value is also a requirement for the shops we work with at the Transformers Institute. So, whether it's my own shops or a coaching client’s, we have to ask ourselves why someone would choose to work for us rather than the other 200,000 shops that would hire them today.

Start by asking yourself, “Does my employment ad make it sound like we are the best shop in the world to work at?” But, if someone were to walk in the front door, is your shop dirty and disorganized with light bulbs out and no air conditioning? Do they see a cluttered shop with grease, oil, and coolant on the shop floor? Do they see a lack of new equipment and tools to do their job? Do they pass by current employees and not even get eye contact or a, "Hello, how are you today?"

Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

I also find most shop owners don't have an "elevator pitch" that effectively sells themselves to a prospect. Instead, they stumble, hesitate, and attempt to rattle off all the same answers the shop down the street might give. Employees now all expect health benefits, great pay, five-day workweeks, etc.  When someone considers working for you, and you give them all the aforementioned answers as reasons to join your company, they think, "So what?" as everyone else is offering the same thing. 

You have to articulate the things that truly set you apart and appeal to the candidate on an emotional level. Besides pay and benefits, what do great employees really want? I have some ideas, but you need to start by asking the great people who already work for you. I promise, if you do it right, you will be surprised by some of the answers.

For those of you reading this and saying, “Wait a minute, Greg, I can’t afford health insurance and other benefits like you big guys,” I say poppycock! You are mistaken in thinking that you have to bear the cost when, in fact, it's your customers who should be paying for it. It may mean you need to raise your labor rate by $10-$15. If you don't think your customers will keep coming to you if you raise your rates, you have more significant problems than the technician shortage.

More to come next month! See you all at the Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference.

About the Author

Greg Bunch

Greg Bunch is the founder/CEO of Aspen Auto Clinic, a six-shop operation in Colorado, and the founder/CEO of Transformers Institute, a training, coaching, and consulting company for the auto repair industry.

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