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Hello Everyone,

I am opening up a new shop from scratch. Its a larger shop (8 bays, 5 lifts, tire machine/balancer, alignment machine, etc.) I know this is a very poor question but how many techs should I have opening day? What I mean by this is I don't want to hire 2 guys and have to lay them off the 2nd week because we don't have business yet or have to turn away 50% of my work because we are busy and only have 2 guys. Any good solutions you guys could think of the help combat this issue? Thank You 

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What we did to start was to hire one, and have a 2nd one ready to come aboard when the business was there.  We pushed it out until the time was right.  It helped that I had general labor available to assist the technician with mundane tasks vs leaving him to fend for himself.   Further, he worked overtime and was paid Flag or Wall Time whichever is greater.   It is not fair to expect your (hopefully) best technician to lose money (with no flag hours) while you build car count.   Your pay structure may be different on day 1 than it is once you have a busy shop.  You have to weather the storm as the startup process is a major money-losing period of time.   Good luck! 

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There is no good answer to this question based on how you presented the question. I would say that your answer should be apparent if you have done all the preparation. Meaning, do you have a business plan? If so then you should have everything planned out....advertising, cost, etc.  If this has been prepared correctly, the only thing you need to do is execute the plan.  

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I agree with Carolina. That being said, with 5 lifts I would suggest two techs and one tire/lube guy. Buy lifts for the other three bays as you go and try to grow into three techs and two tire lube guys.

 

The problem is we don't know your expenses. The amount of labor you 'need' should be based off of how much money you need to produce to survive AND make a profit. If it costs you $60,000 a month to stay open you will fail first month using bantar's suggestion of one tech to start, and you would struggle real hard with my suggestion of waiting to get those extra lifts. 

Further more you should have a .marketing plan in place that will fill bays from day one. Promote a big grand opening, hit local chamber of commerce, ect. 

The question is not how many techs you need to start, it is how much money you need to generate to make it. Then divide that number by how much you think the techs can produce to get total techs needed.

Money needed/money tech produces=techs needed.

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Thanks for the advice so far guys! I should have worded my question differently, what I really wanted to know was how did you deal with techs upon starting your shop?  Such as, did you hire 3 great techs 2 weeks before you open to properly train them or did you have 2 guys that started opening day and use the initial slow period to train and have say another guy lined up to start a month after opening? Just trying to find the best way to do this. Thank You!

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Well, this is a car count question.   Opening the doors does not mean car count is there to feed multiple technicians.   You might have significant pent up demand because of your great reputation or you might not have any demand.

The only certainty you have in front of you is uncertainty.   So, I'd start by managing that.   You have to be fully staffed for all hours / days.   That's the minimum.   Start there, then ramp up.   Startups should have a focus on managing cash flow.   You'll never have to worry about the cash drain getting clogged, they only ever wear wider!     My approach is to wait for the pain to be there consistently before hiring relief.   Some pain is handled by hustling a bit more and some is handled with overtime and of course, some pain is handled with an upgrade (hiring a better replacement).

Hire techs 2 weeks before opening for training?  I'd hire them the day you open and use the idle time of wondering where all of the broken cars are to train them....   unless you have that pent up demand, then you hire them day before.   I doubt they need training...  they need to setup their work area, scout out the bathroom and coffee pot, then they need cars and work orders.

I have 21,000 cars drive by my shop daily and another 45,000 on the cross street and I'm very visible.   Yet 20,990 / 44,990 daily haven't visited me yet.   It takes a while for folks to "know" that you are there.   Everyday it gets a little better.   For my business, the startup period seems to be about 3 years to achieve "tribal knowledge" that you exist and with continued growth thru year 5, then it starts leveling off.   (I'm friends with quite a few other owners that have been thru it and are guiding me and know some that have newer businesses than mine).  With any advertising, you need to be noticed shortly after the customer develops a need.   Until then, you're just another business on the roadside.   The Car Wash next to me is a startup as well and he's mentally struggling with the typical initial low car counts.   It's a very stressful climb.   I've personally moved from Stressed to Anxious, seeking the ever magical Relaxed state.

I have a competitor that opened up and was *way* overstaffed.   Their car counts are abysmal right now.  I'm not sure how the extra staff benefited the business, but maybe it did.  They are in the process of opening 30 shops in our area.    Only one shop out of 5 that I know about is somewhat performing.   (And two of my guys quit to go work "for corporate" and they are both wanting to return.   Buyer's remorse.   I take that as a sign that I'm too nice and need to grow - probably meaner).     

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Thanks for the help and bantar you have some awesome advice. I really want to go full scale and do a variety of work like  alignments, tires, general repair, diesel repair, truck Accessories, etc. I’m in a small town with alot of trucks in it and right now many people drive out of town to get all there auto needs done. I fear in such a small town I can’t get a ton of business quickly but need a variety of techs to offer all of my services. This is where I’m struggling at. 

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  • 1 month later...

Small town means little competition. Also means thin labor pool. Cart before horse. How easily is it to find labor? Pretty easy. How easy is it to find good labor? Not at all. Good techs? Even more difficult. Find the best you can, get two to start. Get out there and drive business in the surrounding towns and first and foremost your own town. Pay the Techs a living wage until you get busy when they can make more money. Don't assume anything. Life and business are alike. Unpredictable. Do your best to make it predictable. 

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         0 comments
      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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