Motocruit Finds and Places Top Talent for Body Shops Nationwide

Motocruit Finds and Places Top Talent for Body Shops Nationwide

As the country’s only recruitment firm 100 percent dedicated to the collision repair industry, Motocruit in Pittsburgh, PA, helps body shops all over the U.S. find qualified collision executives, regional and area managers, collision managers, production managers, estimators, body and paint technicians and even detailers/porters.

Owner and founder Deanna Acker began Motocruit last year to fill a huge void in the industry. Ask any body shop owner or manager about one of its biggest concerns, and you can bet that hiring and retaining good people is right at the top of their list.

Instead of throwing out a big net and pulling in a wide range of candidates that might not be qualified or unemployable, Acker is an expert at targeted recruiting.

Unlike other recruiting (or headhunting) companies, Motocruit doesn't just place an ad and wait for a call; rather, it identifies its clients’ specific requirements and then searches for the ideal candidate to best fit their specific needs.

They refuse to simply throw a warm body in a job because experience tells them that it often leads to turnover.

That means Acker has the sources for the best candidates and works hard to find the ideal jobs for them. It’s all about relationships and knowing the collision repair industry inside and out.

Because Acker has more than 18 years working in different capacities within the automotive industry, she can tactfully sort through all the wannabes to find that employee who's good as gold. Then she finds an ideal position for them because hiring someone is important, but retaining them is vital as well.

Acker’s first job in 2002 was working for a wheel repair company in Dallas, TX, for several years.

“I learned the industry by visiting a ton of shops and watching how they operated,” she said. “After a while, my territory expanded, and they moved me up quickly. I realized that I had a knack for sales and began taking over routes.

"By being in a lot of shops every day, it was a great learning experience," she said. "Many of the people that I worked with back then are now vice presidents and in upper management positions with huge MSOs, so I was building a network back then, and it’s just grown from there.”

Subsequently, Acker landed a position as an executive assistant with Caliber Collision and then parlayed it into a position as an estimator.

“They sent me to estimating school and that’s where I dove into the technical part of the business," Acker said. "I learned how to fix cars and how an efficient system makes it all work.”

In 2013, Acker launched a company, Temporary Auto Body Estimating Solutions (T.A.B.E.S), in Tampa, FL, whose mission was to find good estimators to fill in the gaps when her clients were busy and in need.

“There weren’t any strong in-house recruiting departments out there at that time,” she said. “I saw a definite need and felt I could fill it, so I started placing primarily estimators and techs. The larger MSOs now have infrastructures that allow them to do all of their recruiting themselves, so we work mostly with smaller independents, mini-MSOs and dealership groups.”

The average fee in the recruitment industry is 21.7% of the candidate’s annual salary, considerably higher than what Motocruit charges.

Acker has devised a pricing structure with a flat rate per placement. Clients are not charged until the candidate successfully passes the employer's background check and drug screen, and begins their first day of employment.

In addition, every placement is guaranteed for 30 days from the candidate's first day. In the event the candidate's employment is terminated, whether voluntary or involuntary, Motocruit will source a qualified replacement candidate at no charge.

Most of the collision professionals Motocruit recruits are passive candidates that may not necessarily be actively looking, but would consider a change for the right opportunity.

With a team of recruiters all over the country, Acker is always data mining and using her team to find prime candidates.

She has placed people in body shops in every state except for Hawaii, and even though her company is growing, the personal touch is always there.

Motocruit’s hire rate speaks for itself---97%---an astonishing number considering Acker only places top-tier people. If they don’t have the right experience or enough OE certification training, they don’t make the cut.

“I carefully vet every candidate and interview them personally,” she said. “I want them to check all the boxes we are looking for because we want the best people out there. While we go through this process, we are also using our database and experience to find a shop that will suit the candidate well. Once we are confident about the candidate, we find the best position for them and put the company and candidate together.”

John Stuef, an automotive collision industry consultant and a former regional manager with two large MSOs and a former shop owner, used Acker to find him several top candidates that became top-tier employees.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of recruiters during my 30 years in this industry, and their biggest downfall is that they don’t know anything about the collision repair business,” he said. “They were just finding people and then plugging them into positions to get the commissions.

"Deanna’s edge is that she has a wealth of knowledge about this industry and cares about her clients. Her integrity really stands out, and every time I’ve used her services, she has done a spectacular job," he said.

Deanna Acker sees a bright future for the collision repair industry and is pleased to play a significant and unique role within the big picture.

“This a good time to be working in this industry or training to enter it,” she said. “It’s definitely lucrative, and with all of the new technology, good people are more valuable than ever.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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