Saeli: Can’t Hire a Good Tech? Have You Looked at Your Shop Culture?

Feb. 21, 2024
The key to building a shop that attracts talent begins by creating a good communication structure.

Ah, yes … hiring. Many business owners have an ongoing issue with finding, hiring, and keeping great team members. People who are not just technically proficient but people who want to work in your shop with your crew. 

There are many points in your business to examine when having this issue. Look at everything from the way your advertisements are phrased and how it describes your shop, to where you're placing your ads, even how you're reaching out to potential team members. But, first and foremost, the issue of shop culture should be addressed. Your business has to be somewhere people want to work to attract great talent. 

In my last column, I talked about what shop culture is and how it affects different aspects of your business. I want to drill down here on how shop culture can help with recruiting, retention, and onboarding, too … really any area related. 


Word Gets Around

Sometimes called a ‘grapevine.’ Techs talk to other techs. Service advisors talk with other service advisors. And word gets around. This means within your community, good techs are aware of the shops in town that treat their team well and foster a good shop culture. They also know which shops are full of drama and chaos. 

A few key actions you can take to foster good shop culture are: 


Regularly Scheduled Shop Meetings

The key here is consistency. Don’t have team meetings every once in a while. Have them on the same day and at the same time. Weekly is a good target. Some shops even have them each morning. The daily version can be quick. Let’s say 5-10 minutes. But it gets your crew all on the same page for what lies ahead for the day. If you have them weekly, do the same but allow more time. In the longer meeting, you’ll have time to acknowledge a great employee and what they did that week that was good. Maybe you received a shop review from a customer and the review mentions how much she liked working with your service advisor. That’s just the type of thing that should be brought up in a shop meeting. This public acknowledgment will go a long way with not just that crew member, but the team as a whole. And just to mention here, if you have a disciplinary issue to talk about, a business owner always meets privately with the employee. This would never be brought up in a public setting. 


As the Owner, Listen

When you come in each morning, make the rounds with your team and say hello with a smile. Ask everyone how they are doing. This takes a few minutes and it’s time well spent. In addition to saying hello, be sure to listen. Observe how your team is interacting, not with just you, but with each other. Do they seem supportive and respectful of each other? If something is amiss, ask the employee involved if everything is OK. Be concerned. Then gauge if this is just a one-off instance or something that needs to be handled that day.  And do the same throughout the day, especially if you have a separate dedicated office. Be sure to get out and see how your front desk is talking to customers. The ability of the owner to not just exchange niceties each day with the team, but to also witness the hour-to-hour operations of the shop is key. And if you own multiple shops, this may be even more important. While you certainly want to adhere to the chain-of-command you instituted in each location, it’s also crucial to shake the hand of all employees and get a feel for how the team interacts with customers. Make sure they are upholding the shop culture you want.


Goals & Transparency

Production goals are an essential element of a well-run business. But part of that component is stating those goals clearly to your team. But here’s the catch, those goals must be visible to the entire team whether by a large physical whiteboard posted so all can see or something digital. However, having shared goals transparent to the team goes a long way to a great shop culture, so be sure to keep the goals current each day. This action promotes a team effort to reach the goals. Do include the benefits of reaching and exceeding the goals. It could be a free lunch brought into the shop or a bonus, but something to reward the crew is a significant element of your goals road map. 

To wrap up, if you have a terrific shop culture, your job of finding and retaining new talent will be easier. Even if you have a small shop with just a couple of employees, or you’re running multiple locations, having a great shop culture will benefit you plus your crew. A happy crew is a crew that knows what they need to do each day and has common objectives to bring greater profits to the business.

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