Editor’s note: The tech shortage persists as an issue in the collision industry, and so we thought we’d celebrate Labor Day by giving owners and managers some ideas on how to hire the labor they need.
Here’s some of the past year’s highlights from our coverage of the workforce and how auto body shops can hire and develop talent.
Sweeten the pot for technicians
A Collision Repair Education Foundation and I-CAR survey of more than 675 collision repair companies found the average production technician made $54,842 — and almost 31 percent made at least $70,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, reported that the average annual auto body repairer in May 2018 made $46,460 and the median technician made $42,730. The 75th percentile wage — the point at which a quarter of repairers made more — was $56,480.
With 675 respondents nationwide, the odds are good that at least a few of of the repairers in the CREF-I-CAR study are competing with your company for techs. That could mean you need to pay at the CREF-I-CAR level rather than the lower BLS national average to recruit and keep employees interested in your company.
Only 3 percent of the employers responding to the CREF-I-CAR study failed to offer any benefits.
“Benefit packages offered to today’s collision repair technician workforce show slight increases in Paid Vacations and Tuition Reimbursement. Health Insurance remains steady from 2016, but lower than 2013,” the CREF and I-CAR summary states. “Both Retirement Plans and Life Insurance show declines.”
If competitors aren’t offering it, those retirement benefits could be a huge differentiator for a employer. Between 50-60 percent of the shops reported offering retirement, and improving retirement benefits appears to be working out for Gerber Collision parent the Boyd Group.
Where to look for techs
While down from 2013’s 61 percent, hiring workers from another body shop was “still the largest source of technician hiring (52%),” according to CREF and I-CAR.
Online job postings were seen as the most effective recruiting technique for entry-level techs.
Career fairs are proving much more effective than in 2016 (CREF and I-CAR conduct the survey every three years). However, that might be somewhat attributable to CREF’s aggressive job fair expansion introducing events where none had existed. SEMA added one as well in 2017.
“The most effective recruitment method reported is now online postings, followed closely by social media,” the summary states. “Career fairs showed improved effectiveness as ranked by respondents.”
Marketing yourself, and other strategies
A Collision Repair Education Foundation career fair is shown. (Provided by CREF)
A smaller percentage of shops reported offering life insurance and retirement in 2019 than in 2016, according to a Collision Repair Education Foundation and I-CAR study. (Provided by CREF)
Job fairs were more effective for shops recruiting technicians in 2019 than in 2016, according to a Collision Repair Education Foundation and I-CAR study. (Provided by CREF)
Nearly a third of production technicians made at least $70,000 in 2019, according to a Collision Repair Education Foundation and I-CAR study. (Provided by CREF)