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7 Steps to Better Hiring

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There’s that old saying: Be slow to hire but quick to fire. But through my travels across the country, one of the top concerns I hear from folks is that hiring is too slow; that they simply can’t find quality people.

Well, my friends, most of these complaints come from a major commonality: You’re looking for the wrong people, and you’re looking in the wrong places. The reality is that most people want to hire someone that’s already trained, seasoned and ready to go. People don’t want to train anymore. They want someone that’s a turnkey employee, and that’s not very realistic. And, if that’s who you want, where do you have to find them? The only way to do it is to steal fish from someone else’s pond.

It doesn’t work. It’s not sustainable. And it drastically limits you in finding quality employees that fit your culture.

So, I get it all the time: OK then, Mike, how can I find good help?

I’m glad you asked. Here are seven outside-the-box ideas for recruiting your next great employee:

1. Develop a Recruitment Brochure. So, let’s get started with a simple one. I did this when I had my repair business, and it’s an idea I borrowed from my good friend Bruce King of King Collision in Massachusetts. We developed a simple, tri-fold recruiting brochure and customized it to our shop. It had details about our company, our company culture and what we were looking for in new team members. Then, aside from having them in our lobby, we tried to have them everywhere in our area where potential technicians would hang out: auto parts stores, motorcycle shops, the race track, hunting and fishing stores, you name it. Ask your current technicians where they normally hang out, and to find like-minded people, those would be good starting places.

2. Promote Opportunities on Your Own Website. This is another simple one, but something that’s often overlooked. Have an area on your website dedicated to “career opportunities,” and ensure that it’s optimized for search engine optimization. That way, any tech looking for work in your area can find your shop in a simple search.

3. Host Your Own “Draft Combine.” What an advantage the National Football League has with its draft combine, right? They get the chance to see the best and brightest prospects, and tangibly measure them to gauge possible future performance. Well, you can do the same thing. I used to with my shop. My business was in the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland area, and we’d host the SkillsUSA local, regional and state competitions at the shop. Not only do you get the chance to see what these kids can do, but you also get to show them what your business has to offer them. It was also a chance for us to talk with their parents and demonstrate what a great industry collision repair can be.

4. Let Schools Help You Recruit. Another way to reach those aspiring technicians is through their tech schools. We would contact schools all across the country—WyoTech, UTI, as many as we could—and ask that we get put on a mailing list for résumés and transcripts for graduating students. All of a sudden, you have a headstart on the best students, not just in your area, but across the country.

5. Look Across the Pond. Another thing we did was recruit from overseas. We partnered with a program called the Association for International Practical Training, and were able to get highly skilled and trained technicians to come over and work for us on a temporary J1 work visa. There are a lot of countries you can recruit from, but we focused mainly on Denmark, Germany, France and England. Those were people who were trained and could perform good work on the vehicles we repaired here. And most Europeans are fairly nomadic people and are interested in traveling. They were allowed to stay for 18 months, and often, they’d have a recommendation for a replacement. We had eight different employees come to us through that program, and our team was able to learn a lot from them.

6. Seek Out Retired Police Officers and Firefighters. How many of you could use some quality part-time or three-fourths time help? Most of you, right? Retired firefighters and police officers are a great demographic to go for. Most are still in their 40s, and after 20 years or so serving, they have pensions; your pay is not going to be their main source of income. So, that means you have a very flexible employee, someone that is comfortable working hard and in a team environment. We used to recruit them very often and train them to be dissassembly technicians. I can’t say enough about how great that worked out for us.

7. Hire Veterans. This should be an absolute no-brainer for every shop out there, yet somehow, it’s not. Military veterans are your ideal employee: They’re hardworking, understand and follow directions, understand and follow procedures, and are mature, dedicated and passionate people. Many are still very young and looking for a long, sustainable career. They’re willing to learn, and many already have high-level technical training. What more do you want?

Well, I saved this one for last because far too few of us look in this direction. And, my friends, it’s so simple to get started. Each branch of the military has its own hiring site. We had the most success through the Army Career and Alumni Program website, but that’s just us. Whether it’s the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, each branch has the tools you need to get involved. You can post openings, and you can look through résumés. There’s also programs like 3M’s Hire Our Heroes to get you involved. With Memorial Day just around the corner, I hope that this can be something all of us in the industry look to do more of.

So, there are a few starting points for you. Just like anything in business, there are pros and cons to each of these. Some might work better for you than others. Regardless, the goal needs to be to push your boundaries when it comes to hiring. If you’re struggling to find quality people, why are you still looking for the same people in the same places? No more excuses. Hiring is too important. Your business is too important. Start bringing in the right people, and start allowing your business to succeed.

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