He said, “I prefer the new guys. All three of my current guys came from the local high school voc-tech program. They were all green. For two of them, this was their first job. I've had great success with hiring green talent and training, and maybe that’s because I participate in an internship and mentoring program. I have hired several technicians directly out of that program.”
On the question of money, Kristen Felder, well-known industry icon and president of Collision Hub, said, “Young people today---not all, but many---have been led to believe they will make big money right out of tech school. The fact is: Most don’t. They have to pay their dues. And so many are set up for failure from the start.
“It’s not so much a shortage of people or even a crisis of opportunity. It’s much bigger than that---it’s a crisis of culture. It is something no Band-Aid will fix. There is no silver bullet. Our industry needs a change in culture, and it starts with the way most technicians are paid.
“Most techs today are paid on a commission basis. The more they hustle, the more work they put out, and the more money they make. This creates a number of problems, one of which is having no time or appetite to mentor new techs. In fact, we could live without tech schools if shops had a good mentoring program and a business model to support it. ABRA, Caliber and Fix Auto all have great programs that get a new person doing productive work in weeks, not months or years.
“Another issue is more societal. The WWII generation and baby boomers had a strong work ethic. They didn’t mind working hard. They didn’t mind hustling; in fact, they expected to. They were motivated to buy a new car, buy a house, buy a motorcycle and boat. The WWII generation is gone and baby boomers are retiring. Their [type] will not be seen again. Those replacing them, the millennials, aren’t driven by the same motivation. Many couldn’t care less about owning a car or house, let alone motorcycles and boats. They want a different quality of life and yet, the current business model used in collision shops is based on the hustle mentality of earlier generations. Today’s generation wants to work 9 to 5, and then move on to other things in their life. Their work does not define them. It just doesn’t work anymore for the Xbox and Google generation.