Everyone in the automotive industry is aware of the labour shortage and everyone has experienced its repercussions in one way or another.
What strikes me is when I hear business owners put the brakes on, or even a complete stop to their expansion plans. I recently heard a manager reconsider his plans to acquire new tire shops and centers for fear of not having the staff to operate them. Even worse, he said he did not understand how financial institutions could finance such projects which, according to him, success is made precarious.
The situation may seem bleak, but there are solutions. Among others, companies specializing in international recruitment can help you acquire workers outside of Canada and guide you through the process. Be aware that the process is time-consuming and expensive and that it is a project that must be planned months in advance.
We must also consider taking charge of the newcomer in order to help him in his housing process and guide him towards the different services in order to meet all his needs. It is important not to abandon him or her and leave him or her alone in his or her search; it is an accompanying process. This may seem insurmountable, but on the contrary, several companies in our field have done it successfully.
Valuing the workforce
We can also work with the resources we already have. Give more responsibilities to your best players, put them in the position of captain to set the tone for the rest of the team. Distributing shares in the company can help keep your best assets.
A quality retention plan with innovative benefits is a must. Keep in mind that the hourly rate is only part of the employee’s motivation. A few months after a pay raise, the extra dollar or two per hour is already forgotten and taken for granted. We must focus on the well-being of the individual, on measures that make him want to come to work in the morning.
Your benefits have a huge impact on your employees’ engagement. There are a multitude of retention factors that you can put in place such as Friday afternoon off, free beverages and snacks, team dinners (BBQ in the backyard for example), birthday off, tool allowances… In short, the list is exhaustive and only your imagination is the limit.
Profits and focus
Some will also consider downsizing, i.e. reducing the company’s activities, which is not necessarily bad in itself and does not always mean loss of revenue. Some will reduce hours of operation, cut back on the availability of some services.
You can build on your strengths, focus your activities on higher-profit tasks, specialize in repairs you are very comfortable with, and move away from activities for which you are less well equipped and trained. In 2022, I believe it’s time to apply the adage work better, not work more, and revisit our processes that once seemed appropriate, but may not have evolved with the realities of the marketplace.
Alexandre McCabe is Network Operations Advisor for Point S Canada.