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Bad Hire Turnaround

SHOP STATS: SHOP NAME   Location:  Anaheim, Calif.  Operator: Brian Greenley  Average Monthly Car Count: 364  Shop Size: 16,000 square feet  

When thinking about how to keep and attract the best technicians around, what comes to mind?

 For Brian Greenley, it’s all about the environment, values, and balance.

 As the owner and operator of Maaco Auto Body Shop & Painting in Littleton, Colo., since 1991, Greenley knows the grit it takes to stand up and out.

 Here are a few tips he offers to ensure that there’s no greener grass than yours.


Make Your Priorities Known

Prioritizing an individual’s current skill set and noticeable potential room for growth can help aid in this process.

“After 30 years, I’m starting to teach my managers and staff what to look for,” Greenley says.

Asking employees what they think are the most important characteristics of well-rounded techs and talking through their responses is a good place to start, according to Greenley.


Know Your Values

“I think what’s important is trust and honesty because if you can trust an employee, and they’re able to be honest, there’s open communication there,” Greenley says. “With open communication, you’re going to be able to overcome just about anything.”

He believes understanding a tech’s wants and needs is vital to creating an untroubled relationship.

“You first have to define what you’re looking for, and I think that’s probably the biggest component for me where I’ve had the most success,” Greenley says.

Doing so can be shown in a variety of ways. For instance, take Greenley.

“What I’m looking for, in most cases, is an eager, trustworthy, honest employee,” Greenley says. “I don’t even define them as a painter or bodyman or estimator. I’m looking for that person that’s going to fit in my system. And I can get more into what my system looks like when I’m looking for that person.”


Create Irresistible Incentives

Whether it’s the environment, income, or examples, building up a reputable business from the ground up changes the narrative.

A lot of people will argue if it’s harder to find or keep techs, according to Greenley.

“Keeping them is probably the hardest thing to do, in most cases,” Greenley says.

Not only does he take into consideration the lack of candidates within the industry, but he strives to shape their skill sets rather than expecting perfection going into the position.

“So, that puts, in my mind, a significant focus on keeping them,” Greenley says. “And when you keep them, you have to create an environment that they want to be part of.”

With over 40 employees, Greenley contributes a large portion of his success to excelling in this area.

“I’m not necessarily hiring someone to fill a role, as much as I’m hiring someone to be a team member,” Greenley says.

Regardless of one’s position, he feels that employees value being able to openly discuss their concerns or give feedback.

“I’ve got employees that have been with me for a long time, and I’ve got a handful of guys that aren’t just breaking six figures, they’re breaking $200,000 in a year,” Greenley says. “These are techs that have never gone to college. Now, training is important to me, but these are hardworking individuals that fit my mold.”


Encourage Work/Life Balance

“The thing that people know about me is that there’s a significant focus on work-life balance,” Greenley says.

To create a work-life balance, Greenley ensures that his employees are home in time for dinner, every single day.

“I think with that being said, employees can make a good wage, and you focus in a time frame that doesn’t create burnout, then those employees are willing to stay,” Greenley says.

He ensures this is the dynamic amidst his own employees’ work environment.

“They enjoy the people they work with, they enjoy all those things that I’ve talked about, and I think that’s important when you’re talking about how do you keep somebody,” Greenley says.


Keep Busy and Positive

His shop’s hiring process of individuals involves the expectation that the right candidates can follow the same path someone is currently on to replicate their success.

“The money comes because our business as a whole has been very successful,” Greenley says.

For Greenley, successful businesses include “developing a team and not just necessarily one all-star employee.”

“I think it was important that as an owner you recognize those people that are bad apples,” Greenley says. “Whose attitudes wear on other employees, staff, managers, and ownership.”


Implement Group Expectations 

Building up a staff of techs who share similar mindsets and traits can be beneficial for the entire business.

“If we go to industry meetings, I love to stand back and watch the caliber and quality of my employees,” Greenley says. “They’re engaging, and they’re the type of individuals that have the passion for the business as I do. And when you see that, you recognize a great hire.”

At the end of the day, Greenley believes that positive perspectives are key.

“They’re great people, and it all comes down to attitude,” Greenley says.

Not only does he believe that one’s mindset determines their success, but that taking into consideration a tech’s strengths and weaknesses can help increase both business and profit.

“Then at that point, I can manage the back-end profitability of the job,” Greenley says. “But most importantly, the efficiencies that a tech become greater.”


Compartmentalize Talents

If you’ve got a painter that’s really good at painting white cars and really bad at painting blue cars, you don’t necessarily want to fire him for that, but perhaps you can find another painter that can take blue cars,” Greenley says.

Making these small, yet personable adjustments can make all the difference.

“And in the world of repairs, maybe everything’s blue and white, and you paint more cars,” Greenley says.

When business owners allow themselves to focus solely on a singular employee, they then lose the capabilities of that person due to the pressure, according to Greenley.

He also makes sure to ask the important questions of how he can help lighten the burden departmentally within his shop until things can run at a more consistent level. As he feels that elevating stress from his employees within the workplace is an important component of his position.

“I value my employees; I care about them. I want to know what’s going on not only in their job but in their personal life,” Greenley says. “And I try to help them and reward them for their loyalty.”

However, these added efforts come with challenges of their own.

“The hardest thing for me today is developing a team that understands it from top to bottom because if they don’t, I can’t do it by myself,” Greenley says.

As his shop approaches nearly $9 million a year in revenue, doing so five days a week without creating employee burnout, Greenley has achieved an accomplishment of a lifetime.

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