At Find A Wrench, our biggest competition is a shop trying to find a tech on their own. There’s nothing wrong with trying it on your own. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find someone right away. But with the technician shortage and nearly every shop looking to hire, I can pretty confidently say that’s not going to happen; at least not in the timeframe the shop is looking for.

Years ago, I created a simple framework I use to evaluate if I should do something on my own (or with my team) or hire an expert. Spoiler alert — unless I’m looking to learn something new, it almost always pays to hire an expert.

I like acronyms so I call this my AFTER framework. I wish I had a cool reason why the word “after” makes sense. I don’t. Really it’s just how the letters came together. And as you’ll see, there’s a bonus “O” or “I” at the end, but that came later and didn’t really fit. If you want to play a game of scrabble and use the letters to come up with a better acronym, please send it my way or add it to the comments below.

AFTER Framework for Finding Technicians and for Replacing My Brakes

Below I’m using our Assisted Self Recruiting (ASR) program as my example. You can learn more about it here (the monthly fee is $575): Assisted Self-Recruiting

Just for fun, at each step I’ve also included how I’d use the framework if I was deciding on replacing my brakes myself or taking it to a trusted shop.

A = Access

One of the main parts of our ASR program is our 55,000+ technicians we have in our network. For each client, we find out which ones might be a fit for their job. Then, we send a series of text and email campaigns to see if they want to apply.

We don’t sell access to our contacts since we don’t want other companies spamming them. Even if we did, there would be a fee for that which would add to F below. There would also be time involved in contacting them which would add to T below. I do like to quantify things, though, so using comparable list access in other industries the price would be about $300 per month.

For my brakes example, this would be access to tools. Some people do have access to all of the tools they need to do it on their own. I definitely do not. Or maybe I do and don’t even realize what tools are needed (see E below).

F = Fees

A big reason for doing something on your own is to save some money. But there are still costs involved. Our ASR program includes premium posts on Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and the Find A Wrench job board. If you were to post on these three on your own, the combined monthly cost would be $725. That says nothing of the approximately 100 other job boards we post on. Remember, the monthly cost of our ASR program is $575 a month. We’re able to include all of this due to the volume we do and efficiencies we’ve built in.

Fees I’d have to pay to replace the brakes on my car would be the parts. I’ll pretend I have all of the tools needed so there’s no fees there.

T = Time

Just the fees saved on the premium job posts more than pays for our ASR program. Even given that, I would argue the biggest savings is time:

  • We post on over 100 job boards.
  • We are part of over 500 social media groups that we post jobs on (not all are relevant for every job – for most clients we post on about 70).
  • We repost jobs every two weeks to keep it near the top of the list.
  • We send text and emails to the technicians in our 55,000+ database that are relevant to your job.
  • We sort through all incoming applicants, forward the ones that have industry experience, and reject the rest.
  • Finally, when you like one of the applicants, we take the time to call/text/email them to get an interview lined up.

All of this takes a considerable amount of time. It varies per job, but let’s conservatively estimate it takes 5 hours a week. If you have one of your employees do it who makes $40,000 per year, this is going to equate to about $440 per month.

To be honest, I have no idea how long it takes to replace the brakes on my car. I can guarantee it would take me about 10 times longer than it should.

E = Expertise/Experience

Anytime you devote your full time job to something, you are going to develop some expertise. This is true in recruiting, fixing cars, or anything else. Anyone can post on a job board, but expertise and experience helps get the max value out of it. If only it were as simple as the last one posted is shown first or whoever pays the most is shown first. That’s not the case. There are many variables including using the right keywords in your description, using the right format, and much more. Timing of when you post on social matters a ton too. Phrasing when you send a text or email to a technician is huge. All of these little things add up. When you work with hundreds of shops per month, you get pretty good at identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Expertise is definitely needed in fixing a car. Maybe I could watch a few videos online. But that’s going to take more time (T). And watching a few videos is no replacement for the training and experience of a real technician.

R = Risk

The risk here is you don’t find someone in the timeline you’re looking for. There’s no guarantee we’ll find you someone either, but the odds are far greater when working with a company whose whole purpose is to connect shops with technicians. You can do the math on this one. What is the value of finding someone a week faster, three weeks faster, six weeks faster, etc.? We’re easily talking several thousand dollars.

There are several risks to me working on my own car. I likely will screw something else up not even related to the brakes. Not only that, I probably risk hurting myself.

Bonus: O or I = Other Intangibles

Anytime you do something that’s out of your expertise, it comes with headaches, frustration, stress and many other things. Not only are you taking time away from running your shop, but that frustration probably is making things worse for the other parts of your job. To be fair, it is also good to learn new things. I’ll let you decide if recruiting is one of those new things you want to invest a considerable amount of time in.

I get a headache just thinking about how many times I’d lose my temper if I tried to replace the brakes on my car.

Conclusion

There certainly are some things that are worth doing yourself to save a little money. But in most cases you end up spending more and getting worse results. Often you then have to call the expert anyway. There’s no one size fits all answer, but hopefully this AFTER framework can help you decide which projects are worth tackling on your own and which ones you see the value in calling in the experts.