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Ways mechanics can build their business in 2024

What can you do if you’re struggling to find the people you need?

Is your business in need of an extra pair of hands (or more) on the tools? Then you’re not alone. Capricorn’s State of the Nation Special Report: The Skills Shortage has highlighted that this is an issue that’s affecting a lot of its Members. In fact, its research uncovered that only 44 per cent of Capricorn Members reported they were adequately staffed.

So, what do you do if you’re one of the many, many businesses that can’t find the people they need? Capricorn asked automotive business coach – Workshop Whisperer Rachael Evans for her advice.

1. Explore ways you can do more with less

“I have a client who this time last year had a team of 10,” Rachael said. “Now he’s got a team of six and they’re outselling and outproducing what they did with 10. “He was forced into that situation because of skill shortage, but this is the result.” Rachael said:

  • Workshop owners often don’t realise they’re actually overstaffed.
  • Operating with fewer staff means you’re saving on your wages bill.
  • Business owners often accept a lower level of individual productivity than they should.
  • It’s not about working harder or longer, but about being more efficient.

Rachael’s benchmark: Two technicians and two apprentices should be able to generate $1.2 million in revenue themselves if they work at an efficient and productive capacity.

2. Consider skilled migration

“100 per cent of our clients who have recruited offshore in the last 18 months cannot speak highly enough of the result,” Rachael said.
“The process is lengthy, but they’ve achieved the return on investment they were after. They’ve got workers who want to work and who come highly qualified.
“Come to the conversation with an open mind,” she said. “Generally, they’re hard-working, grateful and they’re loyal.”

Rachael’s secret to success: Support your sponsored workers to connect with the local community, so they can start to put down roots.

3. Be smarter in your recruitment

“If you’re recruiting, you’ve got to completely re-imagine the opportunity that you are providing by giving someone a job,” Rachael said. “To win someone over to your business these days, you have to offer them the best job they’ve ever had.” That might mean doing things you’re uncomfortable with, like:

  • Offering a relocation bonus.
  • Offering your Facebook followers/ customers a spotter’s fee to tag a friend in the trade who might be looking for a better opportunity.
  • Offering a four-day working week.

Rachael’s pro-tip:

“I highly recommend considering a move to some version of our four-day work week and using that as a recruitment tool because it works amazingly well,” she said.

4. Focus on retention strategies

It’s easier to keep the staff you have than it is to recruit new team members, so Rachael recommends paying close attention to retention.

“That starts with their leadership,” she said. “It’s the owner’s job to set the culture.”

Ask yourself:

  • What’s my assessment of my own leadership?
  • What are the values that I hold dear?
  • What values do I want the team to work by?
  • How do we start the culture that we want?

5. Make sure you’re charging customers to reflect your costs

“When you’ve got a three-week waiting list (if it’s not through inefficiency), you are technically what we’d call oversubscribed,” Rachael said.

  • Be really picky and choosy with the work that you do.
  • Only accept the work that you know makes you the profit that you want to make.
  • Stop doing those jobs where you always write off 10 hours and you don’t get to sell your labour time.

Rachael recommends: If you’re oversubscribed, re-assess and recalculate your pricing to reflect your costs and ensure you’re getting the return you deserve.

Consider the economic supply and demand equation in your calculations. Want to learn more about the skills shortage and benefit from Capricorn’s in depth information, analysis and articles? You can read the State of the Nation Special Report: The Skills Shortage here.

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