So, Where can we Find Technicians?

So, Where can we Find Technicians?

By Greg Criss

For the last decade we have sought technicians through advertising, word of mouth, sign-on bonuses, moving expense accounts, etc. We may have even hired professionals to help us, but the quest remains finding qualified technicians to fill our stalls.

From all the research I’ve found, we can be assured that the need for technicians will increase about 100,324 placements per year. That figure is NOT taking into consideration of the retiring baby-boomers. It seems that no one has a grasp on the true number additionally. Anyway, you get the idea.

If we look at the number of graduates that career colleges that specialize in Automotive Technical Skills, we find that the quarterly graduating classes for each location are in the low-hundreds per school, if that. So, you get the idea. Everyone is hiring aggressively, and many dealerships will simply overpay for the talent that they hire because of the competition.

Staffing Correctly:

Staffing correctly will help you in your quest for technicians. Recently I visited a dealership that was looking furiously for a Master or Top Level Technician. They had run ads all through the US with relocation bonuses, sign-on bonuses, etc. I questioned whether they needed this highly of a skilled technician. When I did, I was quickly told that they had to have skilled technicians to perform warranty work. (I already knew that). So, we took a sample of a few hundred repair orders and began separating them into two piles. One pile was repair/warranty, while the other pile was maintenance. Oh, let me tell you first, that the shop was filled with about 18 skilled technicians (8 of them, top level, and 2 oil change personnel). The rest would be considered “B” skilled technicians. When we reviewed the repair orders, we found that 75% of all the repairs coming through the door were maintenance. We then gathered a production report, and found that all but two technicians were making their flat-rate times. These finding put a little different light on what skill level of technician we needed, and actually made the game of finding a technician a lot easier. Take away…. perform a needs analysis to find out what your demand requires, and push a campaign to hire that type of technician.

Ok, so you say, “I’ve looked and technicians just aren’t out there. I’ve visited the career schools open houses. I’ve got bonuses to people who refer a technician. I’ve done everything.” Some of the most effective dealer groups have launched a curriculum for technicians right in their own shops. I’m not talking about hiring that bright-eyed student and placing them as a helper with your master technician, send them to class and see how it goes.

Let’s look at some facts:

  • A technician who signs on to a career school may have 10’s of thousands of dollars of investment usually in the form of student loans.
  • Most dealerships don’t have a program for this. They have a concept. These concepts are a problem because they are not structured and organized. And, because of that, candidates are not flocking to dealerships to receive training. It’s ok, we’ve been in the vehicle repair business, not in the training business.
  • If you could offer a candidate a solution that would save them the tuition and probable student loans, wouldn’t that make sense?
  • Wouldn’t it make sense that the candidate would begin earning immediately?
  • Wouldn’t your Top Level Technician(s) make a great Mentor that would accelerate their learning when organized?

Adjustments:

In many dealerships, I hear the story that we had a very promising lube tech. This person had a great attitude, attendance was exceptional, and was engaged in doing an excellent job. But he/she had no career path. And, in most dealerships, there’s a huge separation between the lube technician and the line technician. That separation could be by pay, by training, by empowerment, and on and on. So, the career path doesn’t seem like a likely one. Without a career path, the team member is up for grabs for the next job at that Big Box Retailer who is hiring for stocking positions. We have to make it a designated, clear path for the talented ones. Again, an outlined curriculum is the key.

Here’s what we know that the young candidates are seeking:

  • Challenges and a sense of purpose
  • Frequent recognition for accomplishments
  • A positive working atmosphere
  • Social Interaction with Co-workers
  • Work for a business with a great reputation.
  • Learning guidance with positive reinforcement.

The winners in this game of hiring technicians will in the short-term perform a needs analysis, and hire accordingly, and in the long-term will develop training programs right in their dealerships to have a constant stream of candidates to fill the positions that are needed and required.

Criss Consulting has assisted dealerships in creating an in-house curriculum programs that will keep the candidate focused with timelines to minimize cost, and a recognition system that is second to none. If you are frustrated trying to find technicians, please feel free to contact us at www.crissconsulting.net



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