Keys for Finding Quality Entry-Level Technicians
With 40 years of experience in the automotive industry, Michael Flink has witnessed several significant shifts.
But the industry has rarely seen an issue as widespread as the current technician shortage.
"The technician has been driven away from the collision side, as cars have gotten advancements where the technology modules, (like) ADAS, are coming into play," noted Flink, a national trainer with Autel. "The need for the technician on the diagnostics and electronics side of the vehicle has returned to the collision repair industry, and it's now got this huge gap of trying to fill that back in."
"Shops need to start seeking qualified technicians," Flink added, "and that, in itself, is a challenge. Because the industry is really short on fully qualified technicians as a whole.
"So, we have a labor pool that's too small, and now we have a growing demand for that labor pool."
How can shop owners avoid drowning amid backlogs of work during this ongoing tech shortage? Flink suggests two key steps for finding quality techs to hire.
GRASSROOTS GROWTH EFFORTS
The Autel national trainer suggests attempting to pinpoint passionate young collision repairers and grooming them so they can eventually ascend to a technician role.
He suggests that shop owners "identify people within their own area that might be capable of growing to that, and getting them mentored so that they can grow within.
"A little grassroots growing," Flink called it.
AVOID OLD MINDSETS
Flink also feels that shop owners need to change their traditional approaches, in particular when communicating with insurers.
"The last piece is just changing some of the thinking," the Autel national trainer said. "And this is a growing challenge for the collision shop and the insurance side of things, to not pricing out that technician. You know, we don't want to pay, for example, pre- and post-scans at a $100-$150 diagnostic charge the general repair industry gets. The problem is, it's needed to complete the job. So, if we won't pay the collision shop the right way to pay the help within it, then the collision shop has to sublet it. Well, the repair shop's still going to get that $125 or $150 charge, but now the collision shop, because it's a passed-along sublet, doesn't get the opportunity to make money.
"The insurance side of the industry has got to take a look at a more holistic (approach), instead of compartmentalizing, and realizing that, if we don't pay it here, it's costing us more in three other places, and we'd be better off to pay that initially and get a car back in a day, rather than force a sublet that might tie a car up for three or four days."