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CHANNELING HUMAN NATURE

A mere ounce of care can make all the difference

By ALLISON ROGERS

This edition of Collision Repair was crafted with a particularly special focus on people. The original idea was to centre the issue around hiring and staff retention— think strategies to keep your staff around for decades—but that quickly shifted focus to a broader topic.

In truth, there’s no guaranteed, step-bystep, follow-this-and-you’ll-be-sure-to-succeed plan; but one of the greatest things you can do to make sure your staff retention rates are the best they can be is to narrow in on your workplace culture.

When speaking to young collision repairing professionals for one of the articles in this issue, it became clear that compensation is important, no doubt, but equally as important to these individuals is how they are treated in the workplace.

One of the ideas shared by multiple apprentices was the importance of a positive learning environment. That means, as one student clarified, a repair bay where you are not laughed at for not knowing something, but instead taken aside and shown the ropes of what to do so as to learn and grow.

With the average technician age falling somewhere between 47 years and 55 years, say the snapshots from the last ten years, it is surprisingly easy to fall into a pattern of laughing at mistakes when wielding a spot welder has been second nature for so long. No one is forbidding jokes—who doesn’t like to laugh at work—but such gags must be paired with helpful advice that one can learn from. Otherwise, there will always be one person that’s not laughing. Plus, it’s important to remember that even the seasoned pros have something to learn with the pace vehicles change nowadays.

If you’re not careful, a spider will set up house in your corner, spinning words like ‘HUMBLE’ into her web; and not for the same reasons she did it for the pig.

Don’t let comfortability-minded strategies stop with the people you see every day. Remember that your customers want to walk into a healthy culture, too. After all, for the average person, a collision can be rather traumatizing.

According to a recent study, conducted by United Arab Emirates-based RoadSafetyUAE in partnership with OnStar, two out of three people surveyed—all of whom had been in an “emergency on-road incident” in the past— reported that they would appreciate emotional help immediately following a crash.

You may already be questioning your abilities as an expert sympathizer—but fear not, these respondents aren’t necessarily seeking emotional support from their local collision repairer. You and your team may only be able to offer the customer some coffee, a comfy place to sit and the confidence that their vehicle will be restored to pre-accident condition; which is fine. After all, very few drivers are seeking your shoulder to cry on.

According to the RoadSafetyUAE survey, 17 of the 46 accident victims interviewed reported wanting to speak to a friend, spouse or family member for reassurance and emotional support in the aftermath of an accident. In short, simply offering them the chance to call a friend for support can help your case and your customer’s nerves.

So, yes, there may not be any 100-percent- guaranteed way to ensure you can please everyone—there are probably a thousand clichés written on the exact topic. The best way, though, to do your darndest: act just like a human. Almost everyone is good at it.

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