Written by: John Burkhauser
If there's one thing that is bringing us together as an industry currently, it's the technician shortage. It's been an enduring problem for years now, and the automotive industry needs to proactively counteract the issue at hand. With the nationwide push for millennials to go to college, there haven't been as many technicians coming into the industry as there once was, leaving shops to fight over the ever-shrinking pool of talent.
Finding and keeping quality technicians isn't hopeless, however. There are still changes that you can make to ensure you're building a strong team that's built to last.
As the need for technicians continues to increase, it is essential that auto repair shops are investing in their team—both current and new. This is an aggressive problem, which means that you have to have an aggressive approach to lessen its effects.
You already know how to hire an automotive technician, and that experience is a plus, but changing your strategies may yield better results in this climate.
Figuring out how to retain automotive technicians is an important first step. You know that upselling current customers is much easier than trying to find new business, so your approach to your technicians should follow the same line of thought. Retaining your current techs is not only easier to achieve, but also a more cost effective option.
The stakes have been raised, and as a result your shop also has to raise the bar. To entice technicians to stay long term, it may be worth giving them something above and beyond. What that could mean is up to you, but it may be worthwhile to consider offering them some type of stake in your business.
Acknowledging their contribution to your shop's success is important, but what's in it for them, ultimately? You have to set your auto repair shop apart from all the others in terms of offerings in order to successfully retain highly qualified technicians. To put it simply, go big or go home.
Training these days is a necessity. Vehicles are increasing in complexity with each coming year, which means continuing education is more important than ever. Providing assistance for educational programs can go a long way to building morale with your current technicians.
If they know that you are there for them and willing to help provide support and resources, that may be an X factor that keeps them around. At the end of the day, the amount of effort you put in to your technicians and their needs will better serve you in the long run.
If a tech isn't well compensated for their work, they will never be happy. They will always be distracted by the financial issues hanging over their heads, decreasing their motivation and morale. The amount they are paid is a consistent reminder to them about how much they are valued. If they feel dissatisfied with their current rate, their eyes may wander and your technicians may move on to another shop.
The level of expertise required for each tech to work on today’s vehicle is always climbing faster than the techs’ pay. You need to develop a fair system of pay where everyone benefits. Yes, this is a constant challenge, but if you consider how expensive it is to lose a good tech, it is a good investment.
When looking for budding technicians, high school and post-secondary level automotive programs are a good place to start. Take some time and get involved in a program. Get permission to visit the school and make connections; maybe invite the class to your shop for a visit.
Identify students that have talent. Consider setting up an apprentice situation where a student comes to your shop for a few hours a week to watch, work, and learn. This is a win-win situation for the student and for you as well.
The student gets much needed hands-on experience, and you could get an entry level technician when all is said and done. It's not as ideal as a fully qualified technician, but in this climate, we have to exhaust every idea.
Your legacy technicians are a valuable part of your team. They have decades of automotive repair wisdom in their toolbox, and you don't need to lose them to retirement. Consider part time work for these technicians, modify their roles to focus on diagnostics, and let them pass on wisdom to younger and more inexperienced technicians.
It's important to mention, do not wait until you are short a tech. Make changes today to safeguard your shop against losing existing techs while planning for the event one of them does leave. Your shop is a great place to work, so make sure that your technicians see that.
Tags: Recruitment & Training
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