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When to Rehire a Former Employee

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Most of us are in the same boat today: It is hard to find employees. We can try to hire technicians and train them, reach out to technical schools, look at laid off adjusters, look to service departments—heck, some shops even offer signing bonuses.

But, oftentimes, someone brings up a name from the past, or we scroll through our phones and come across a person’s name, and we say:

“Oh I forgot about so-and-so. Yea, he used to scratch everything in reassembly but he should have gotten better by now, right?”

Or we think:

“Ooh, here’s so-and-so. He used to produce a lot but he sure had a bad attitude. I wonder if he’ll be worth it this time?”

Rehiring a former employee is something we utilize when necessary. I believe most people want to do a good job and have the ability to succeed. And in order to determine whether an employee should get a second shot, you must look internally to see if there was anything you could have fixed from a managerial level.

On your end, that depends on three factors:


1. Did They Have the Right Job?

Sometimes we push people to work on jobs they cannot handle. Did we overload someone with too much volume in the office and their performance reflected it? Did we take the combo guy who said he was fine doing dents and swapping parts and give him a larger hit?

What about an estimator that we try to place into a management role? I have seen countless times where a great experienced estimator gets a chance as a manager, and although they are great at their jobs and know what to do, they cannot always execute because they are not mentally ready to take on the task of managing others. We must look at their performance based on the job that they were given and make an educated decision on why it did not work. Sometimes we may put too much on an employee, or they may bite off more than they can chew.


2. Were They in the Right Place?

Perhaps the person was driving too far to get to work and their attitude was sour upon arrival. Maybe they always tried to cut out early to beat traffic and left the shop in a jam. Did we put an okay painter in a shop with a booth that maybe was substandard?

A good example for us, we had a painter with bad knees who started out excellent. But, over time, he began to over-mix and produce poor quality. At this particular shop, the mixing room was up a flight of stairs. It began to hurt his body, so he would over-mix to avoid an extra trip up stairs. Also, because his knees were hurting him, he began to cut corners in his prep work and it showed by the amount of trash he was getting in his jobs. We are opening a new location with the mixing room attached to the booth and the stalls right next to it all, and he couldn’t be more excited and his attitude couldn’t be better. We are excited for the “old version” of him to be back.


3. Was the Timing Off?

Sometimes people have personal things going on in their lives that spill into work. It is important to keep work separate, but we all know that does not always happen. Shops becomes families, and personal things often get shared. Everyone is going through something of which we may know nothing about. Was there a death in someone’s family? A new child? Was someone having money problems at that specific time of their employment? Could they have been going through a drug or alcohol issue?

Good people sometimes go through bad times. I know we have all had a technician in money trouble who tried to rush through jobs to earn a check by sacrificing something. Just because they lost their job from us for poor performance does not mean they are bad people. It means they needed to be coached. One of our technicians has worked for us four times. He left once because personal issues with his home life, he left once because of a death in the family, and he left once to go work next to his brother to bring him along in his career. Today, he works for us again. He has an amazing attitude, does excellent quality work, and would do anything asked of him. If I didn’t give him chances and consider all of the factors involved, this great technician and future body shop manager would be working with someone else. This is a prime example as to why the timing of someone’s employment matters.

If we can ask those three questions and find that something was off, then we owe it to ourselves, and them, to take a hard look at bringing them back. My father and I often talk about this imaginary list. This list is composed of people we one day were not happy with who are now back employees and doing a stellar job. You’d be surprised just how long that list is. Many times a person does better the second or third time around. We need to discuss what happened last time, but we also need to make sure to not get stuck on it. Clear expectations must be set to help them succeed in the future. If they do well, so will you.

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