Happy, healthy, and productive

April 17, 2024
Is your shop a welcoming environment for technicians?

More than 30 years ago, when my car got sideswiped on the street where I parked each day for the day at college, I chose the body shop highly recommended by friends.

The owner of the two-man shop, who was also the estimator and painter, was seated at a cluttered desk piled with hand-written estimates and parts catalogs as he greeted me in an office typical of the time. The “waiting area” was a dusty bus seat along the wall.

We’ve come a long way since then. Most shops’ offices and waiting areas are now more comfortable than my doctor’s or dentist’s office. But how many shop owners and operators go the extra mile to make painters, technicians, and other production staff more comfortable?

The collision repair industry is addressing the technician shortage through the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF)’s support for collision repair educational programs; educational outreach through CREF and I-CAR’s Collision Careers program; and innovative technician apprenticeships, including the Collision Engineering program I highlight in this issue.

Those apprentices are attracted to a shop environment that’s clean and modern with a welcoming shop culture. On a Monday morning, take a look around the shop with fresh eyes, or even better, partner with a friendly local shop operator to assess each other’s shop. Note what could make it a more appealing environment. Perhaps brighter lighting, a deep cleaning, and fresh paint, to start? Dust-collecting sanding systems can go a long way to benefiting technicians’ health and keeping airborne dust to a minimum, keeping both the shop and customers’ cars cleaner. If it’s affordable and something most are accustomed to in your area, air conditioning can improve job satisfaction and even productivity.

If our industry is to compete with other trades and technical careers, we need to take a hard look at what improvements we can make to appeal to the broadest population possible.

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