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We've been running adds for months, (AdWords, facebook, monster and many other sites) and just can't find quality candidates! I was thinking it was just us, be it the shop, methods or maybe am unsaid reputation but I've been talking to other shops and folks who frequent other shops (tool dealers, part suppliers etc) and they say everyone in a 100 mile radius is hiring but can't find help.

Any insight? Are we alone in this?

 

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10 hours ago, xrac said:

Same story here. Quality hires are not available. Too many techs have left the industry and went to other jobs where they can make more money. Young people are not interested in jobs that get their hands dirty. 

So true, I use to put money away now i pay bills, The industry has not kept up with cost of living, price of tools, education both with the techs and the public. It has become an art but also a dying art at the same time. 

Not only do they not want to get their hands dirty , they don't want a career that continues to cost them money over the duration of it. It seems that the tool companies have kept up with the times tools keep getting more and more expensive. They understand that we need the tools to get the job done, supply and demand = pricing . So over time our industry may get to the point that it is a well paying career once enough techs get fed up and leave it and we don't have the young ones joining, but how long will that be? Probably not in my career or at the very end . Time will Tell .

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Glad to know we're not alone. I'm where I could grow and expand. Just picked up serious additional work load too. But if I can't get the work done, or it's not done correctly what's the point? Right now I'm floating all positions, but if like to find a really good experienced tech to help the guys I have now and allow me to run the shop. May not happen!

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About 6 months ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that featured all the trades: welders, electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, etc. They found that there is a shortage among all the trades, nationwide. 

At the same time, we are seeing more and more automotive graduates from schools like Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Tech.  So where are they? 

It's time we start a movement to become involved in our community, schools, and technical schools.  If we can't find them, we need to grow them.

Xrac is right about the money.  Unfortunately, until shops make enough profit, they cannot always pay what a tech deserves.  Basically, the shop owners too need to earn the wage THEY deserve.  

I know I may hit a nerve here, but here it goes: I find that too many shop owners do not earn enough profits, so how can they attract quality people and pay them.  As an industry we need to raise the image and the average income of shop owners first.  

Automotive shop owners are the hardest working people on the planet. They owe it to themselves and their families to earn the income they deserve. When this happens, they will be able to offer their employees a better pay package.

It's not all about money, but everyone needs to earn a decent wage and feel good about themselves.

 

 

 

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About 6 months ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that featured all the trades: welders, electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, etc. They found that there is a shortage among all the trades, nationwide. 
At the same time, we are seeing more and more automotive graduates from schools like Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Tech.  So where are they? 
It's time we start a movement to become involved in our community, schools, and technical schools.  If we can't find them, we need to grow them.
Xrac is right about the money.  Unfortunately, until shops make enough profit, they cannot always pay what a tech deserves.  Basically, the shop owners too need to earn the wage THEY deserve.  
I know I may hit a nerve here, but here it goes: I find that too many shop owners do not earn enough profits, so how can they attract quality people and pay them.  As an industry we need to raise the image and the average income of shop owners first.  
Automotive shop owners are the hardest working people on the planet. They owe it to themselves and their families to earn the income they deserve. When this happens, they will be able to offer their employees a better pay package.
It's not all about money, but everyone needs to earn a decent wage and feel good about themselves.
 
 
 
Your correct sir. We're in a steady growth pattern and we're up around $40,000 as opposed to this time last year. Each year has been seeing growth. What frustrates me the most is we've been offering good money! But a lot of the candidates want a guarantee of $xxx.xx - I've learned a lesson with this, I can't guarantee anything if they aren't productive! They still receive a living wage but demanding a guarantee of $900+ a week, and they can't generate that in revenue, I can't afford to do that!

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2 minutes ago, ncautoshop said:

Your correct sir. We're in a steady growth pattern and we're up around $40,000 as opposed to this time last year. Each year has been seeing growth. What frustrates me the most is we've been offering good money! But a lot of the candidates want a guarantee of $xxx.xx - I've learned a lesson with this, I can't guarantee anything if they aren't productive! They still receive a living wage but demanding a guarantee of $900+ a week, and they can't generate that in revenue, I can't afford to do that!

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Great insight!

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38 minutes ago, Joe Marconi said:

At the same time, we are seeing more and more automotive graduates from schools like Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Tech.  So where are they? 

It's time we start a movement to become involved in our community, schools, and technical schools.  If we can't find them, we need to grow them.

One thing I have noticed is work expectations, you get the young one's out of UTI or LTI they come get a job and think they should be getting top pay like the guy that is fully certified and has many many years of experience under his or her  belt.. They don't seem to understand that what they learned is the basis for getting their foot in the door. Once they see how much more there is to learn and how little they make compared to the seasoned ones they get discouraged.  I have seen many guys come through the shop and quit after a very short time because of pay that the thought they would make..  I always tell them it is like building a house on a concrete slab.. what you learned in school, was that concrete slab being laid with the roughed in plumbing. NOW you have to build that house on that slab.  Sure you sell that slab by it's self you can get some money for it but if you sell the completed house you will get a lot more.

I also don't think there is a good focus on the cars of today in school ( I could be wrong) . Not enough knowledge is given on diagnostics (electrical) things, which we all know is what our cars are now a days .. a bunch of rolling modules all communicating with one another to make things work. Just as cars now a days talk along two lines of communication take it all in, filter what they need and discard the rest as junk, unfortunately that is also what it has come to as far as hiring mechanics (techs)

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One thing I have noticed is work expectations, you get the young one's out of UTI or LTI they come get a job and think they should be getting top pay like the guy that is fully certified and has many many years of experience under his or her  belt.. They don't seem to understand that what they learned is the basis for getting their foot in the door. Once they see how much more there is to learn and how little they make compared to the seasoned ones they get discouraged.  I have seen many guys come through the shop and quit after a very short time because of pay that the thought they would make..  I always tell them it is like building a house on a concrete slab.. what you learned in school, was that concrete slab being laid with the roughed in plumbing. NOW you have to build that house on that slab.  Sure you sell that slab by it's self you can get some money for it but if you sell the completed house you will get a lot more.
I also don't think there is a good focus on the cars of today in school ( I could be wrong) . Not enough knowledge is given on diagnostics (electrical) things, which we all know is what our cars are now a days .. a bunch of rolling modules all communicating with one another to make things work. Just as cars now a days talk along two lines of communication take it all in, filter what they need and discard the rest as junk, unfortunately that is also what it has come to as far as hiring mechanics (techs)
Your right on! I've got to give real props to Rosedale tech and Paul Danner and people like Richard McCuistian at a high school. I'm sure there's other schools doing it but these guys are teaching diagnostics in a broad way!

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On 9/3/2017 at 7:47 AM, ncautoshop said:

What frustrates me the most is we've been offering good money! But a lot of the candidates want a guarantee of $xxx.xx - I've learned a lesson with this, I can't guarantee anything if they aren't productive! They still receive a living wage but demanding a guarantee of $900+ a week, and they can't generate that in revenue, I can't afford to do that!
 

This is where our industry is so screwed up! FLAT RATE!!! All the industry guru's who want to put techs on flat rate because they cant teach and we cant learn how to properly motivate our technicians. Asking for a guarantee of 46k per year to show up is not out of line (for a journeyman) and if you cant afford to guarantee a quality tech that you need more help than a tech can give you. Offering $30-$40 a hour flat rate is great. IF you have the work, IF a tech gets truly paid for all they do..they will make a great living. I don't know of many who would turn down an actual dollar rate per hour and still give you an honest days effort if properly motivated.

Everyone talks about how they offer good money. What isn't really discussed is how many techs are underpaid because their owner/advisor does not charge properly, gives stuff away or just plain expects someone to work for free. Discussions on this board about we pay our techs .2 for an oil change.....there is not a single person here who could pull a car in, give it a decent visual inspection, set air pressure in tires, adjust fluids, change oil and filter and back the car out in 12 minutes. Ain't happening and should not be an expectation. However there are techs getting .2 flat rate to do this with the caveat that what they find they will get to do if sold. OH YEAH...and car count. It should not be a techs concern if you can provide enough quality car count. Somewhere somehow as owners we've been taught if we're not getting paid they shouldn't either......that's a bunch of BS. IMO.

We need to learn how to properly charge for our services, charge for all of our services and pay our people better than living wages based on the skills they have. There should be no journeyman plumber who makes more than their tech counterpart. (i'm not picking on plumbers).

 

 

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This is where our industry is so screwed up! FLAT RATE!!! All the industry guru's who want to put techs on flat rate because they cant teach and we cant learn how to properly motivate our technicians. Asking for a guarantee of 46k per year to show up is not out of line (for a journeyman) and if you cant afford to guarantee a quality tech that you need more help than a tech can give you. Offering $30-$40 a hour flat rate is great. IF you have the work, IF a tech gets truly paid for all they do..they will make a great living. I don't know of many who would turn down an actual dollar rate per hour and still give you an honest days effort if properly motivated.
Everyone talks about how they offer good money. What isn't really discussed is how many techs are underpaid because their owner/advisor does not charge properly, gives stuff away or just plain expects someone to work for free. Discussions on this board about we pay our techs .2 for an oil change.....there is not a single person here who could pull a car in, give it a decent visual inspection, set air pressure in tires, adjust fluids, change oil and filter and back the car out in 12 minutes. Ain't happening and should not be an expectation. However there are techs getting .2 flat rate to do this with the caveat that what they find they will get to do if sold. OH YEAH...and car count. It should not be a techs concern if you can provide enough quality car count. Somewhere somehow as owners we've been taught if we're not getting paid they shouldn't either......that's a bunch of BS. IMO.
We need to learn how to properly charge for our services, charge for all of our services and pay our people better than living wages based on the skills they have. There should be no journeyman plumber who makes more than their tech counterpart. (i'm not picking on plumbers).
 
 
I agree completely. That's why we track time and bill additional time if we exceed the estimated time. I don't have any issue AT ALL with someone making $50,000+ - I'd love to make sure my employees are well compensated! But that being said, if a technician expects $50,000 a year but isn't willing or capable complete the work in front of them they don't deserve it! You can blame shop owners all you like, but the reality of it is shop owners have partially been backed into this corner by corporate America and manufacturer's in a way. That being said all the blame can't be placed in one area! We've worked each of the areas you've discussed to help improve to the point we can pay a technician fairly, and we do have salary employees at this point. There was certainly a time when we were not able too! The problem now is, we're offering techs half of our billable rate before tax - paid time off and vacation time and we are working on insurance offerings. The technician is a big part of the estimating system here, so if they feel it'll take longer we'll add it and they get paid. If they get in and the job expands, we add it and they get paid. The problem is, I've got a parking lot full 5 days a week and a schedual full 5 weeks out and can't seem to find experienced technicians that want to work.
I'm sure we are part of them problem, from appearances, shop configuration, organization, my personality etc.
But the reality is, there's not much to choose from! Sorry if this sounds like a rant! Lol

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39 minutes ago, ncautoshop said:

 I don't have any issue AT ALL with someone making $50,000+ - =

 

if a technician expects $50,000 a year but isn't willing or capable complete the work in front 

 

The problem now is, we're offering techs half of our billable rate before tax -,

 

I've got a parking lot full 5 days a week and a schedual full 5 weeks out and can't seem to find experienced technicians that want to work.
 

4 things I'll respond to. A top tech should be making 80k plus per year easily.

 

If a tech isnt willing fire them. If they aren't capable train them and/or pay them accordingly. If they aren't capable I would question the title "Technician"

 

Raise your billable rate, techs should make 30% of labor billed.

 

The only reason you have parking lot full and people who are willing to wait 5 weeks for service is YOUR TOO CHEAP or you are the ONLY choice. People do not wait 5 weeks for car service where I am from. If I run more than 3-4 days behind we lose opportunities.

 

I am not picking on you or putting you down. I am trying to help. The last line about 5 weeks is your key. You need to charge more period.

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Maybe so, there's only dealerships charging more so I hate to go up much more! While you guys are at $100+ our highest dealer is $85. We're currently at $75.00, and maybe I should go up but I don't want to price myself out of our market. 7 of 10 shops here are 45-55 an hour.

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Ok, I looked up bowing Rock NC....you cant find techs because you're in the middle of nowhere...BUT
 
You have a 5 week backlog!!!!!! Charge more.....if the shops that charged 45-55 were worth anything you would not have 5 weeks of backlog.
That's also a valid thought!

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I would love to make that... sign me up 

That's something like $48.40 an hour after taxes and uniforms. 40 hours a week. If that technician efficiency and productivity were down (at my current labor rate) for a week that would be uncomfortable to say the least lol

I honestly can't see the issue with flat rate as long as the writer and tech are working to ensure that proper times are estimated and calling customers for additional time approvals. It seems like a win win for everyone

 

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9 minutes ago, ncautoshop said:

That's something like $48.40 an hour after taxes and uniforms. 40 hours a week. If that technician efficiency and productivity were down for a week that would be uncomfortable to say the least lol

Im game if someone wants to take a chance on me LOL 😂

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20 hours ago, ncautoshop said:

Maybe so, there's only dealerships charging more so I hate to go up much more! While you guys are at $100+ our highest dealer is $85. We're currently at $75.00, and maybe I should go up but I don't want to price myself out of our market. 7 of 10 shops here are 45-55 an hour.

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For God's sake, raise your rates man. A lot, like 10 or 20 an hour. 3 things will happen.

#1 You'll lose some customers. Not necessarily a bad thing as the one's you lose will be the bottom feeders 

#2 Losing those customers means you'll have less of a backlog which will make the remaining customers happy. I'd love to be back to a week or two backlog.

#3 You're going to make a lot more money.

BTW, I haven't hired a tech in 23 years. He's still here as well as one I hired in 1983. Had one retire last year that was with me since 1979. I pay a base for 44 hours of $966 whether a customer walks in the door or not, or $35/ hour per billed hour whichever is higher. Also uniforms, 3 weeks paid vacation and 10k a year to offset their health insurance costs. The only problem on the horizon is that they will probably retire in the next 10 years.

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For God's sake, raise your rates man. A lot, like 10 or 20 an hour. 3 things will happen.

#1 You'll lose some customers. Not necessarily a bad thing as the one's you lose will be the bottom feeders 

#2 Losing those customers means you'll have less of a backlog which will make the remaining customers happy. I'd love to be back to a week or two backlog.

#3 You're going to make a lot more money.

BTW, I haven't hired a tech in 23 years. He's still here as well as one I hired in 1983. Had one retire last year that was with me since 1979. I pay a base for 44 hours of $966 whether a customer walks in the door or not, or $35/ hour per billed hour whichever is higher. Also uniforms, 3 weeks paid vacation and 10k a year to offset their health insurance costs. The only problem on the horizon is that they will probably retire in the next 10 years.

I certainly have plans to be working my rate up over the next 2 years to the $90-$100 range. We just came from $65 a year ago, so in December I've got it planned to go to $85. Really like that pay system, something we may look into! We lost almost all of our bottom feeders on pur last rate increase. We considered a health insurance offset, but according to our insurance provider they have a less expensive option we'll be looking at. Thanks for all the great advice guys!

 

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My top tech has $1250 a wk guarantee, plus $32 an hr for every hr over 45 hrs. He's only missed going over 45 hrs twice in the last 1.5 yrs he's been here. He's woth every penny he gets. I had to do the guarantee to get him, and very glad I did. All 4 of my techs have a different pay plan based on who they are, their skill level, and what it took to hire them. Sometimes you just have to have an open mind about how to pay.

I agree that we can't attract people into this business if we don't pay enough, and we can't pay enough unless we charge enough. Our labor rates need to compare to plumbers and electricians and other professions in our area. Also, I've seen that many shop owners who work in their shop don't have a good view of their actual profitability, since a good part of their profit comes from their own labor. GP and net profit should be calculated as if the owner was paying someone else to do that work, then see how profitable they are and raise prices accordingly.

I struggled for 6 yrs getting this shop going. I finally figured out how to solve my lack of profitability problem...charge more! I also told every tool truck driver and every parts rep and anyone who would listen that I paid the highest tech wage in town. All 3 of my A techs came to me looking for a job. I consider myself very fortunate, but I also kept putting it out there. 

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On 9/3/2017 at 8:41 AM, Joe Marconi said:

I know I may hit a nerve here, but here it goes: I find that too many shop owners do not earn enough profits, so how can they attract quality people and pay them.  As an industry we need to raise the image and the average income of shop owners first.  

Hit all the nerves you want, as a matter of fact stomp on them. The ignorance and stupidity found among shop owners is second to none.

Early on, I remember seeing UPS raise their rate 3 to 5% every year, I could not figure it out until some old-timer explained to me how the money is created and how inflation works. Since then I always made it a point to raise my rates the same way.

Warranty companies tell me I am crazy for charging $175 an hour that they will only pay their max rate, I say "right, but your customer will pay the difference," and they do. Excellent people do not come cheap, and you can't compete with scavanger rates.

 

Edited by HarrytheCarGeek
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10 hours ago, xrac said:

Guts and brains is what it takes for us to succeed. A lot of us owners lack the guts to charge what we need to charge to really succeed. 

very good point.. I think that also with some brains working for you it makes it a lot easier.. Then there is more of a comfort in being able to charge what you should be charging for repairs. Guts, well yes you do need the guts to be able to raise your prices to an appropriate level when other shops around keep theirs low, another reason to have some good brains working for you , One of the most important things in this business more so than car count "REPUTATION" AND "QUALITY" work !

 

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very good point.. I think that also with some brains working for you it makes it a lot easier.. Then there is more of a comfort in being able to charge what you should be charging for repairs. Guts, well yes you do need the guts to be able to raise your prices to an appropriate level when other shops around keep theirs low, another reason to have some good brains working for you , One of the most important things in this business more so than car count "REPUTATION" AND "QUALITY" work !

 

I know some real brainless shop owners who are still going

I've got 3 prospects that we're looking at to hire. We've not talked money yet but that should be coming up soon. I'm going to do a minimum or book hour at a decent hourly rate - whichever is higher as mentioned above - I've decided I'm not going to mention productivity in relation to pay. I'm going to handle that through management. If they can't be productive I'll just keep looking!

 

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Just now, ncautoshop said:

That's a fact, I've certainly gathered some perspective from this thread!

Awesome ! I am sure that is one of the main points of this forum to help others.. From many different point of views.. as some may think I am full of crap, because of my position in this business, but I have been in the business for a good while now, seen a lot of changes and have what a think is a pretty good grasp on what works and what doesn't in most cases but not all.. 

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