Menefee: What You Can Do to Retain Employees

June 15, 2023
Retention programs can help show employees how much you value them and why they should make their career with your business.

Last month I attended Regional Performance Group (RPG), and had a few takeaways that I implemented into my shop—the primary one being an Employee Retention Program. Before I delve into the details of the program, I want to stress the importance of being involved in some type of RPG or peer group. I participate in the one put on by my paint company, AkzoNobel. I went into RPG feeling totally burned out and a little beat down. I was feeling overwhelmed by the fact that repairs and technologies are changing so fast and feeling like it’s harder and harder to keep up with the changes and that the insurance companies are just continuing to nickel and dime us. I left RPG feeling 100% better. I left with a sense of community and that I’m not alone in how I feel. Having access to other shops to discuss my triumphs and struggles, hearing their encouragement and advice was a real pick me up and exactly what I needed. If you aren’t involved in some type of peer group, then you are doing yourself and shop a disservice.  

The first day of RPG we go around the room and list out what struggles we are currently facing so that way we can try to come up with a plan to address those struggles. As we went around the room, every single shop listed keeping employees and finding new employees as their primary struggles that they are currently facing. We spent two days figuring out how to get new employees and how to keep them. I was already providing a 401(k) matching program where I match up to 3% of any contribution. I was already providing all employees with a $10,000 life insurance policy that I pay and additional workplace benefits they can buy into. As a small shop, I really thought, what else can I provide, reasonable group health insurance? I had tried that, but no one wanted to buy into it because of the cost.  

What I came up with was that I needed an employee retention program which included an employment page on my website, career paths, a retention bonus, and to focus on a work/life balance for my employees. This is how I am currently implementing the plan.

Employment Page: I’m a small shop. I never thought about having a page on my website where people can apply to work with us even if I don’t have a current open position. My webpage company is currently putting together a page where it shows the culture in our shop, lists the benefits of working with us, featuring our career paths and retention bonuses. It will have a place where people can apply if interested in working with us and a place to list job openings we may have. My shop has a good reputation and most of my employees have come as referrals or recommendations from employees at other shops. I had never thought about how they would apply with me other than calling and asking for me and some technicians just won’t be comfortable doing that. 

Career Paths: I know this sounds silly, but I never thought about career paths until the technician shortage started to happen and I had to start looking at apprenticing my own employees. My tenured technicians are training up my green technicians, but I had never given it more thought than that. I did some searching and there are collision technical schools that have hands-on training programs that are a week at a time. I already send my tenured technicians to training to keep up with changing repairs, but for my green technicians that need to learn the basics, I put together a plan where I will send them once a year to one of these week-long hands-on training sessions and I’ll pay for airfare, hotel and food. Then during the rest of the year, I will provide different trainings in my local area as they become available. That way the greener technicians see that I am investing in them and want them to stay with me long-term. 

Retention Bonus: I already have a basic bonus plan set up that focuses on our goals, but I wanted something more to make sure my employees stay for the long haul. I took this idea from another shop. For every employee I have I set aside $35 a week into an interest-earning savings account. Then for every five years an employee is with me I pay them out an employee retention bonus of $10,000. If I fire an employee or they leave, then that money I’ve been setting aside in the savings account becomes savings for the business. When I announced this, my employees loved that idea, but you could tell they just thought I was talking a big game. I put my money where my mouth was, and even though I had just started this program, I had two of my key employees that just had their five-year anniversaries. I pulled money out of our shop savings and went ahead and paid their $10,000 employee retention bonus. My crew was stunned and re-energized all at the same time. It was one of the best decisions I could have made to make sure those key employees don’t wander off or get tempted by another shop.

Work/Life Balance: We keep hearing that the new generation coming up is more focused on a work/life balance than past generations. I came back with the intention of switching my shop to a 4/10 work schedule—four days a week with 10-hour days, giving each employee a three-day weekend. We would rotate the technicians so the shop would still be open five days a week. I thought everyone would be stoked by the idea, but it was met with some resistance from a few employees. Currently, we are implementing this two employees at a time to see how it works and to make sure our production does not decrease. I’ll let you know how it works out in the end.

Ultimately, the results of my employee retention program have been favorable. I can tell by talking to my employees that they feel like I value them and that I want them to stay with me, and by implementing this program it has just reemphasized that. If you haven’t looked at creating an employee retention program for your shop, I would highly recommend it, no matter how small or large your shop may be.    

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

How Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrow Collision Center, Achieves Their Spot-On Measurements

Learn how Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrison Collision Center, equipped their new collision facility with “sleek and modern” equipment and tools from Spanesi Americas...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...

Banking on Bigger Profits with a Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth

The addition of a heavy-duty paint booth for oversized trucks & vehicles can open the door to new or expanded service opportunities.