Auto Service World
News   July 28, 2023   by Adam Malik

Is there enough collaboration to solve talent issues?

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With everyone recognizing a problem in recruiting talent in the automotive aftermarket, has the issue become that too many are trying to solve the problem on their own, rather than the industry tackling it as a group?

That was the question from Dave Smith, senior advisor at collision repairer Caliber, at the recent MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers Vision Conference.

“It’s not like we didn’t see this coming. But like many things, COVID accelerated it. And I think I would ask the question of everyone: Do we have too many organizations working on it? Should there be a better level of cooperation?” he asked.

During the panel discussion New Technologies: The future of the repair shop and how suppliers must adapt, Smith wondered if there are too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak — too many people or organizations are trying their own recipes to make something work. But in the end, it’s everyone trying to do the same thing on their own, rather than working together to achieve a common goal.

“Because it feels from an outside point of view that we’ve been looking at doing some of the similar things,” Smith assessed.

This is no small undertaking, he emphasized. “It’s going to require a lot more resources and a lot more knowledge,” Smith said.

It’s not hard to promote the fact that a great career can be had in the aftermarket — he pointed out that everyone in the room is benefitting from a career here.

“You can have a great family and you can support yourself. It’s a classic blue-collar [industry] and we always bemoan the lack of blue-collar [jobs], and in fact, there’s more jobs than ever available,” he told the audience. “How do we get that message out there together so that it’s not one person here, one person there, but as a collective? How do we get our own ‘Got Milk?’ campaign, if you will, that everybody hears and sees the message?”

It comes down to money at the end of the day, said Dave Hinz, owner of Mastertek Auto Repair. People need to get paid properly.

“These people are doing stuff that is very highly technical. Their pay scale has to go up, and it has to go up tremendously,” he said. “That means labour rates have to change. That means in order for a business like me to survive — people are going to freak out on prices — but this has to be dealt with because how else are these cars going to get fixed properly?”

Training is important but Hinz pointed out that you’re asking guys to work eight hours and then go for four hours of training. Even if you do Saturday training, you’re still taking them away from their home life.

“What are we going to do different? Well, we need to do some stuff during the day during the workweek, right? But for a small mom-and-pop like me, you take out 25 per cent of your workforce, that’s a lot to recover from,” he said.

He didn’t have an answer but challenged everyone to think about how to make this work.

“I think there’s all kinds of conversations that could happen here. As we think about things, it has to be addressed and we got to really have sit down and have the conversation for a better life,” Hinz said.

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1 Comment » for Is there enough collaboration to solve talent issues?
  1. GARY WILSON says:

    To many Insurance companies still dictating collision shop door rates , and they wonder why there is a lack of tecs. Whats worse is we are still letting them do it , even when we cant keep up with the demand .

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