Locating and hiring qualified people is simply the beginning and the battle to retain them is a never-ending war. In the collision repair industry right now, shops are poaching the best techs, estimators and painters away from competing shops. If you've spent a lot of time and money training these collision professionals and invested in their futures and then they decide to leave—what can you do? Well, by keeping them engaged and continually offering them incentives for good work, you can keep your people on your team and in your shop for a long time.
As we all know, a good estimator can enable you to improve your bottom line and help you make your monthly numbers. A really well-trained, personable counter person is also worth his or her weight in gold. And as far as techs go—a great one can make you shine, while a few mediocre ones can sink your operation. So, whenever you find that truly amazing employee, hang onto them at any cost! If they are truly great, their phone will be ringing sooner than later, and your competitor will be on the line.
Here some things you can do to retain your employees and keep your operation working seamlessly:
• Little things go a long way. Free lunches on Fridays, birthday parties and other perks will bring your crew together and create a positive environment.
• Use promotions and incentives to keep your workers motivated and part of the team. Make the contests fun and they will keep your employees engaged and enthused about their jobs.
• Conduct “stay” interviews periodically. In addition to performing exit interviews to find out why employees are departing, consider asking longer-tenured employees about why they are staying. This is valuable information that you can use to retain employees in the future.
• Promote from within the company whenever possible. If you don't offer deserving employees advancement opportunities, they will become discouraged and will eventually stop trying if they see no real future for themselves at your shop.
• Foster employee development. This could be either ongoing training to learn a new job skill or tuition reimbursement to assist further in your employee’s education.
• Create open communication between employees and management. Conduct regularly scheduled meetings where employees can discuss ideas and ask questions. If you can establish an open-door policy that allows your employees to speak openly with their managers without fearing of retribution, you will learn about how to be a better employer.
• Offer genuine financial rewards. Consider offering stock options or other financial incentive-based bonuses for employees who meet your performance goals and remain on the job for a specified time period. Also, provide significant annual raises, because nothing negatively impacts employee enthusiasm more than a trivial raise. If you have the budget, give more to your top performers and they will pay it back in ways you never even imagined.
By integrating some of these strategies into your shop, you will be able to keep your employees for the long-term and prevent them from constantly looking around for a job elsewhere.