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Making adjustments to the collision repair industry for the millennial workforce

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 06:00
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With every new generation that enters the automotive repair industry, there is a new set of motivations, expectations, work habits and values. The new ideas and perspectives new generations provide determine the vibrancy of our industry, while the experience and leadership of previous generations determine our industry’s trustworthiness and longevity.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen a growing sense of urgency from managers during shop visits regarding the attraction and retention of millennials as the generation settles into the workforce.

Most – if not all – dealership-based shop managers are struggling to manage millennials and are lost on how to recruit them.

With the millennial generation set to become upwards of 75 percent of the total workforce by 2025, we need to develop a plan. Our way of thinking needs to change drastically and immediately.

The common understanding of characteristics and work preferences of millennials represent a challenge within the context of our industry. Millennials tend to avoid professions that call for 9-5 schedules, yet that is a structural reality of collision repair that simply is not going to change. Millennials steer away from jobs that perform repetitive tasks. Again, that is a basic reality when it comes to collision repair.

However, there are other values millennials bring into the workplace that are just as important and well suited to collision repair. Millennials value relationships and experiences far more than climbing the corporate ladder. Millennials are also comfortable taking initiative to contribute to decision making; not content to be simply instructed on what the company feels is best or important. These attributes are characteristics of engaged, accountable employees.

Over the last several years, as I’ve worked with dealership-based collision centers, I’ve encouraged owners and managers to have them include their entire staff in the process of developing current and future strategies for moving the business forward. This is not new. In fact, this is one of the core principles of LEAN. No one knows the job better than those who do it!

I encourage my shops to support what we at Sherwin-Williams call a PRIDE Meeting. PRIDE stands for Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. This is a weekly stand up meeting where everyone can have a say and make combined decisions of what is best in moving the business forward. This type of culture is what the most talented Millennials are attracted to. They want to help drive the bus and learn along the way. The idea of riding along just for a paycheck just won’t cut it any longer.

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