Survey says collision repair industry hiring relatively flat

By Mike Davey

Toronto, Ontario — December 9, 2013 — Recruiting and retaining high-quality staff is a concern for every collision repair facility. As we approach the end of 2013, we asked our readers to let us know about their hiring (and firing) practices this past year. 

Hiring doesn’t take place in a vacuum. A complete picture also includes the employees who left the business for one reason or another in 2013. The first question in this survey asked respondents to indicate how many employees had departed from the collision repair facility in the last year, including retirees, those who left employment of their own volition and those who were dismissed. 
As can be seen in the accompanying graph, nearly a quarter of survey respondents did not lose any employees in 2013. However, a healthy percentage (nearly 10 percent) lost eight or more members of their workforce in the past year. We suspect that of those, the majority are large facilities employing many people. There are many facilities across Canada where eight employees would constitute the entirety or majority of their workforce. 
Turning to the hiring numbers for 2013, we see that over 80 percent of survey respondents hired at least one person in the last year. The most popular answer was two employees hired in 2013, at about 29 percent. However, we again see approximately 10 percent of collision repair centres hiring eight or more new employees in 2013. This is remarkably similar to the number of facilities who lost eight or more employees in 2013. 
An examination of the individual answers reveals what you probably suspected: the facilities who lost the most employees are also, by and large, the ones who hired the most new employees. It’s also important to note that an employee could have been hired in January of 2013 and fired in November of the same year, and would be counted on both lists. 
The number of facilities who hired two employees in 2013 is remarkably similar to the number that lost four to five employees in the same time period. Again, an examination of the individual answers shows that very often these are the same facilities. This would indicate that, at least for some collision centres, they were forced to let people go but have been unable to replace them since. 
We also recently asked our readers to let us know what percentage of their Human Resources budget is spent on training and development of current and new staff. Over 35 percent of respondents indicated that the facility had undertaken no training this year. This may be worrying, especially at a time when new technology and an industry-wide drive towards vehicle lightweighting is changing vehicles on a yearly basis. 
While “No Training” was the single most popular answer, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The majority of respondents (nearly 65 percent) indicated that they had arranged for training or staff development in 2013. Of those that did arrange for training, the most popular answer was “6 to 10 percent,” indicating that the facility had spent approximately that much of its total HR budget on staff development. 

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