Recruiting and keeping talented employees is a challenge that impacts many automotive restoration businesses.

Held in conjunction with a recent ARMO General Membership Meeting, an ARMO panel discussion featured restoration professionals and business owners sharing their insight on overcoming these challenges and what solutions have worked for their company.  

The panel is moderated by David Alkire of RPUI, and features Blake Burgy of Moss Motors Ltd., Joanna Agosta Shere of Steele Rubber Products, and Justin Whitten of Eckler Industries.  Key takeaways from the discussion are below, while a recording of the meeting and panel discussion can be viewed here.

The next virtual ARMO General Membership meeting and panel discussion will take place November 19 at 10:00 A.M. PST / 1:00 P.M. EST. Stay tuned to your email and ARMO social media for details and registration.  

Common Challenges
-    Finding quality employees for sales and technical support positions, as well as finding skilled machine trades persons are a challenge for restoration businesses.
-    Recruiting employees for warehouse positions and getting them to stay is another challenge. This is especially true when smaller restoration companies are forced to compete against larger warehouse and distribution centers such as Amazon and Walmart.

Resources for Finding Applicants
-    Temp agencies are a top resource for finding applicants due to the convenience of managing background checks and the vetting process. Although useful, it is noted that temp agencies have recently been having trouble finding quality applicants for the restoration market.  
-    Word of mouth and placing a “We’re Hiring” sign outside of the business is still a reliable way for recruiting applicants.
-    Reaching out to employment agencies on local college campuses, as well as attending car shows and events, can be an effective way to recruit and attract employees to a business.
-    LinkedIn can be effective for obtaining leads and referrals for positions such as marketing and advertising, but is not the ideal platform when recruiting for warehouse positions.

The Importance of Product Knowledge
-    Having product knowledge is essential for companies such as Moss Motors, whose business requires having technical knowledge of classic British cars and car parts. However, with recent challenges in finding employees, the company pivoted to creating a new “quick order team” solely dedicated to taking orders that does not require employees to have the knowledge of a seasoned salesperson.
-    Having car knowledge is also an advantage but does not always mean the employee is a good fit for the company. Some companies have found success in hiring employees with little car knowledge but have the drive and ambition to learn more about the industry.

Employees Working from Home
-    The pandemic forced many restoration companies to transition to a work-from-home model – something that may not have been an option before the pandemic. Although companies are still navigating the current Covid landscape, working-from-home can now be considered an option. During the past year, restoration companies have seen the benefits of being more flexible with employee schedules and see it as a way to increase employee retention and lower company costs.
-    Losing a sense of company culture, not being able to celebrate accomplishments in-person, and not being able to participate in more interactive, in-person brainstorming sessions are noted as downsides to working from home.
-    Whether an employee is working remote or on-site, ensure that all employees feel valued for their contributions. As an owner or manager, consider working on-site with your employees whenever they are required to be in the office, offer bonuses, or even bring in biscuits or treats for on-site workers.

How Companies Can Stay Competitive
-    While minimum wage varies from state to state, consider what other companies are paying for similar positions and be willing to offer competitive wages in order to attract quality employees.
-    Review your company’s benefit packages, research other companies, and incorporate a fun company culture.
-    Offer employee discounts on parts or services.  
-    Consider being flexible with scheduling, offer paid holidays (or even birthdays) off when applicable.