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Happy Labor Day! Here’s some insight into hiring, developing collision repair staff

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Business Practices | Education | Market Trends
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Editor’s note: Having enough labor to give the day off to today can be a challenge for collision repairers, so in honor of the holiday, we thought we’d give you owners and managers some food for thought about solving your own tech shortage.

Here’s some of the past year’s highlights from our coverage of the workforce and how auto body shops can hire and develop it:

• Boyd/Gerber: Tech shortage contributes to persistent, elevated auto body repair backlog

• New Gerber tech benefits take effect this quarter, might provide edge over rivals amid shortage: “(Boyd Group CEO Brock Bulbuck) said the Boyd Group had changed the way it paid its piece-rate technicians for vacation days, which could mean up to 100 percent more vacation pay — ‘maybe even higher’ in some cases.

“The company also would double the company match on a 401(k) retirement plan.

“’That’s fairly significant from an individual employee perspective as well’” if employees increase their contribution to capitalize on the new company match threshold.”

• Consultant: Developing from within auto body recruiting solution, keeps staff from jumping ship: “Developing employees with an interest in a particular collision repair role might be an easier solution than attempting to fill that position externally, a recruiting consultant said earlier this month.

“Otherwise, that staffer will pursue that job anyway — at someone else’s shop, Pro Collision Training President Paul Gage told a NACE educational session Aug. 10.

“Gage gave the example of a CEO seeking estimators. The CEO already has numerous people in the company who want to become estimators, Gage said. What the company really needed are customer service representatives and parts staff, he said.

“Why? Because a customer service representative who wants to be an estimator can be developed into that job, Gage said. And it’s much easier to fill a CSR vacancy than an estimator, he said.”

• Guest column: Developing qualified auto body technicians in Canada

• Congress reauthorizes Perkins Act for vo-tech funding, bill includes more than $1.2B for FY 2019

• Ambitious Mont. trade show serves industry, encourages new techs, donates $60K

• Shop owner: New collision estimating SkillsUSA event ‘went very well’: “A luxury-certified body shop owner and former Society of Collision Repair Specialists chairman said the inaugural SkillsUSA National Collision Damage Appraisal challenge ‘went very well’ and drew interest from teachers accompanying the students.

“Precision Body & Paint owner Ron Reichen, who served as both a judge and technical committee member for the new event, said committee members now plan on building a curriculum for vo-tech instructors seeking to teach the next generation of appraisers, adjusters and estimators.

“Though its honorees are treated like any others, the appraisal competition will spend another two years as a demonstration event, according to Chris Evans (State Farm), chairman of the SkillsUSA Collision Appraisal and Total Loss Evaluation Committee. Demo events which ‘are doing well and have industry support’ graduate to become official contests, SkillsUSA public relations manager Karen Kitzel explained in an email.”

• SkillsUSA crowns nation’s best young repairers, painters — and now, appraisers (photos)

• DOL auto body, painter apprenticeship templates indicate intensive programs: “Years of on-the-job training could be required before a worker ‘graduates’ from federal registered auto body repair and refinishing apprenticeships, according to templates provided by the Department of Labor.

“Federal registered apprenticeships entail businesses giving unskilled Americans jobs and teaching them the business while paying them an average of $15 an hour. At the end of the apprenticeship period (one to six years, typically four years), apprentices receive a credential which signals to other companies in the industry that the employee knows his or her stuff. More than 55,000 apprentices graduated nationwide in 2011.

“The careers ‘automobile body repairer’ and ‘painter, trans(portation) equipment’ are among those with registered apprenticeship programs. Asked about what those programs look like for an employer and employee, Department of Labor spokesman Egan Reich provided two templates.”

• Trump’s federal task force offers plans for growing apprenticeships

• Chipotle CFO offers auto body shops tips on harnessing, compensating employees

• Former body man donates tools to tech school; CREF says campuses have need for similar charity

• CREF sees growth in career fair attendance, Tier 1-3 schools: “A presence at a state SkillsUSA and expanding career fairs to other ‘transportation’ trades are among the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s latest efforts to draw a new generation to the field, a representative told the industry last month.

“CREF development director Brandon Eckenrode told the Collision Industry Conference on April 11 that CREF’s career fairs have grown from an average of 150-200 students to sometimes more than 600, and students have had their ‘eyes opened’ to other options besides body shops, such as insurance, paint and tool companies.

“The demand for skilled employees is so strong that companies had asked CREF to ‘”give us a bigger pool to choose from,'” and the trade group obliged by turning the fairs into ‘transportation’ events, inviting students from mechanical repair, auto service, heavy-duty and diesel vo-tech programs to attend, he said.”

• UTI free ‘Ignite’ summer program for high schoolers expands to collision repair

• From SEMA career fair, a look at what drives some prospective technicians: “Finding quality people to hire is perennially a top concern of collision repairers, and owners and managers might improve their odds of doing so with a little insight into the next generation of technicians.

“Late last year, we attended the second annual SEMA job fair, held immediately prior to the start of the show, and had the opportunity to interview some of the college students checking out the job market.

“While their stories are obviously anecdotal examples, a few elements stood out and might provide lessons for those recruiting, hiring and managing.”

• Mo. auto body shop head describes switch to ‘lean learning’, leading rather than managing


Students from multiple high schools visited NACE on Aug. 10, 2018. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

The Center for American Progress in 2012 analyzed 30 case studies in 11 research papers and concluded the median cost of turnover was 21 percent of an annual salary. That amount encompasses productivity lost while the job is vacant, the cost to train the new hire, and the productivity lost while the new hire gets up to speed. “Jobs that are very complex and that require higher levels of education and specialized training tend to have even higher turnover costs,” CAP wrote. “… Very highly paid jobs and those at the senior or executive levels tend to have disproportionately high turnover costs as a percentage of salary (up to 213 percent), which skews the data upwards.” Pro Collision Training President Paul Gage, pictured, cited that 213 percent statistic Aug. 10, 2018, in discussing the need to develop staff from within. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

Gallery No. 1: SkillsUSA Automotive Refinishing Technology 2018 winners. (Janet Crowley, committee co-chairwoman)

Gallery No. 2: SkillsUSA Automotive Refinishing Technology 2018 competitors. (Janet Crowley, committee co-chairwoman)

Gallery Nos. 3, 8, 10-14, 16, 18-19, 21-42: The 2018 SkillsUSA Nationals event. (Craig Moore/SkillsUSA)

Gallery No. 4: SkillsUSA Collision Damage Appraisal contestants and the committee members behind the new demo program. (Provided by appraisal committee Chairman Chris Evans)

Gallery No. 5: SkillsUSA Collision Damage Appraisal contestants and advisers are shown. (Provided by appraisal committee Chairman Chris Evans)

Gallery No. 6: SkillsUSA crowned the latest class of refinishing and collision repair rising stars last week — as well as up-and-comers in a new trial Collision Damage Appraisal category (pictured). (Provided by appraisal committee Chairman Chris Evans)

Gallery No. 7: Former Society of Collision Repair Specialists Chairman Ron Reichen (Precision Body and Paint) poses at SkillsUSA 2018. (Provided by SCRS)

Gallery No. 9: The four gold medalists (two high school, two college) in the 2018 SkillsUSA collision repair and refinishing categories will also win $1,250 tool scholarships thanks to the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, March Taylor Memorial Fund and Snap-on. An SCRS sign congratulates contestants at the 2018 competition. (Provided by SCRS)

Gallery Nos. 15, 17: A scene from SkillsUSA 2018. (Provided by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists)

Gallery No. 20: A table touts the new demo SkillsUSA Collision Damage Appraisal category. (Provided by appraisal committee Chairman Chris Evans)

SEMA’s 2017 career event is shown. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

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