Survey paints stark picture on garage recruitment challenges

Two mechanics

Norwich-based automotive recruitment specialist Progress Recruitment Solutions (UK) says a recent survey starkly illustrates the challenges many independent garages now face in finding and retaining skilled technicians.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with digital news specialists Garage Wire, gained 80 responses from six simple questions posed to independent garages during October 2018.

Many of the key findings proved incredibly clear cut – 96% agreed that skilled technicians were ‘very important’ to their business, with nearly three quarters of all respondents voting them ‘vital’.

It’s equally clear that recruiting these people is no longer straightforward; just 2% found recruitment ‘very easy’.

Though a further 7% felt their ‘stable team’ negated the need to search for staff over 90% of garages face varying degrees of difficulty filling technical roles. Just over a fifth said they get ‘plenty of applicants’ but often without the required skills. 23% found it downright ‘difficult’ to hire but usually found the people they needed.

This still left almost half saying ‘we’ve sometimes been unable to recruit the people we need’.

The negative effect on business of skills shortages is compounded by the time it takes in some cases. 15% were usually able to find staff ‘within a month’ with 35% reporting it took between one and two months.

Whilst for exactly half of garages the hiring process typically takes over 3 months with 26% reporting they operate a continual process of ‘always looking’.

A clear saving grace for independent garages is their relatively stable staffing needs. Only 14% hire more than two staff a year. For 49% it’s something they only do only every couple of years, or longer, leaving 37% hiring ‘around once a year’.

Coupled with the difficulty finding and hiring staff comes the lag experienced before they fully contribute. Though almost half expected staff to be fully operational within a month, 30% said it took up to two months to get up to speed, whilst for 21% the process took anywhere from 3 months to more than a year.

The final survey question looked at incentives around staff retention. Of eight different factors a ‘good working environment and facilities’ was voted by far the most important, whilst a bonus scheme was by some distance the least influential.

Competitive basic pay and skills training were ranked second and third ahead of personal rapport and ahead of closely grouped factors like progression opportunities, regular reviews and flexible working.

Commenting on the survey results Laura Rycroft, Managing Director of Progress Recruitment said:

“The results paint a vivid picture of the challenges we know many garages are facing recruiting skilled technicians.

“Difficulties finding suitable staff have been building steadily for long period and because many smaller independent garage owners are not recruiting regularly there’s often surprise when old methods like placing a job advert in the local paper simply don’t work anymore.

“It’s interesting to note that many factors ranked as important when it comes to keeping staff are things that don’t have to cost fortunes or, in the case of investing in facilities or training, may have wider business benefits.

“When it does come to recruiting, a specialist agency can help garages navigate today’s greater challenges. Progress Recruitment has existing candidate databases, effective talent acquisition channels and proven screening services to not only increase the chances of finding suitable people but also to reduce the time the process takes too.”

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Posted in Progress Recruitment