Survey Data Focuses on Auto Body Shop Employee Recruiting Methods

body technician
A national survey of auto body shops earlier this year found just over half said they currently had a job opening for at least one body technician.

Despite the growth in online recruiting sites and tools over a number of years, auto body repair shops continue to find word-of-mouth and referrals as their best source of new employees.

In a national survey this past summer, collision repairers were asked how they’d located any new technicians they’d hired in the past 12 months.

About one-third credited a referral from a current employee, and even more---40%---cited a word-of-mouth referral from another source. About 17% found the employee through their paint or equipment vendor. Less than 8% said they’d recently recruited a new employee from a local high school; even fewer said they’d recruited from a post-secondary school either in their area (less than 6%) or outside their market (also less than 6%).

Among online recruitment methods, more than one in four shops said they’d successfully used Indeed, about 18% cited Facebook and 15% used Craigslist. About 4% used LinkedIn---the same percentage using an ad in a local newspaper.

“We are advertising everywhere,” the manager of an independent shop in Pennsylvania said. “Our last hire is a kid in high school on co-op.”

“I’ve talked to everyone I meet, and only found two unskilled trainees,” a shop owner in Michigan commented.

This summer’s survey comes on the heels of one three months earlier that found about four in five auto body shops said they would hire a qualified candidate right away; 29% said they would hire two new employees if they could.

Only 21% of shops said they were fully staffed and had no job openings for any position. Six months earlier, by comparison, 37% said they were fully staffed.

When asked about specific job positions, half of the shops responding (51%) said they currently have a need for at least one body technician, and almost one-third (31%) had an opening for a body helper.

The other most in-demand job positions were detailers, needed by 22% of shops, and front office estimators and painter’s helpers, both positions cited by 19% of shops. Lowest in demand in terms of production positions was a structural or frame technician, currently needed by just 11% of shops.

About 12% of shops said they had paid a hiring bonus to a new technician within the past 12 months. More than half of those bonuses were less than $2,000, but a quarter of them (26%) were $3,000 or more.

Perhaps making the market even more competitive for auto body shops looking to find an experienced technician are job openings outside of shops---such as with remote diagnostic and calibration companies---that require a body technician’s skill set but don’t involve actual body work. Those jobs didn’t even exist 15 years ago.

The data comes from two “Who Pays for What?" surveys from this year. The latest of the quarterly surveys, conducted by Collision Advice and CRASH Network, is taking place through the month of October. Shops can click here to take the survey.

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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