If there is one issue that nearly every busy shop in America is facing today, it is a technician shortage. Honestly, this issue is paramount in all industries where skilled labor is required.
We are currently blessed with a healthy economy, the unemployment rate is at a low of 3.8%, and has remained relatively consistent for over a year now. The economy is healthy, and that is part of the equation. There is also another contributing factor to the technician shortage which is starting to hit the news, and that is our emphasis on a college degree and a diminished investment in technical training in schools and we as a nation are starting to pay the price.
The most in-demand and hardest role to fill in a body shop is always the A-tech. Even with the best technical schools in the country, you can't pop out an A-tech in two years, as that takes experience and skill acquired from years on the job. Therefore the fastest way to obtain A-techs is to hire them away from your competitor. This can be done through higher pay and a more enticing work environment.
So how do you create an enticing work environment that allows you to pay an A-tech more?
Equipment could be your answer.
Most senior level auto body technicians have their own tools, but none of them have their own equipment. Choosing the right frame benches to meet OEM requirements, having the latest STRSW welders, Aluminum self-piercing rivet guns, all will pay for themselves not only in quicker repairs but can also be used as an asset in recruiting.
The same goes for your Paint Shop, even though your A-techs typically don't do their own painting. An efficient shop can turn more hours, and more hours means more pay for the A-tech. If the shops in your area are only able to turn enough hours for the average A-tech to make 60-70K, but your techs are consistently making six figures, the word will get out about your shop. Especially in the day and age of social media.
If you have all the latest repair equipment but are still struggling with an older spray booth that you are just trying to get a few more years out of, you may want to consider the message this sends to the next technician you are trying to hire. Technicians know that the paint booth is going to mean the difference if they can turn those hours for the week or not.
Let's not forget the need for painters a well. Most shop owners know that their painters just want to spray and turn those hours the same as the A-tech. Even if you don't need a new booth or another booth, perhaps a new prep deck and an extra prepper could alleviate paint booth bottlenecks and send the right messages to the people that you are trying to recruit.
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