In a time when most companies finally understand that their personnel is its most valuable asset, the automotive industry faces an additional challenge. The automotive technician shortage. The goal of this article is assisting dealers, shop owners and service managers to get into the right mindset in order to recruit, but most importantly, retain the best automotive service technicians.
Proactive recruiting mindset
The first mistake of most service managers is setting up unreal expectations regarding job applicants. We are not saying you should lower the bar, but to be pragmatic. You won’t find a lot of master auto technicians with 10+ years of experience knocking your door. However, you may find many young technicians and mechanics eager to show what are they capable of. Our advice is to open your mind and set aside longstanding paradigms.
- Avoid labeling people. Just because a technician has worked at a Toyota dealer doesn’t mean he or she can’t work with another brand. Most of the basics are the same, after all, vehicles share the same working principles. It’s preferable (and cheaper) to train an experienced technician with relevant information about your brand than starting out from zero.
- Go directly to the source. Be proactive. Recruit entry-level technicians right at colleges and technical schools. Do you like sports? Think of professional sports managers. They look for talent early on in high school and college.
- Be smart when recruiting auto technicians. In a way, recruiting is similar to selling yourself and/or your company services. Create the conditions for candidates to wish to be part of your team. Google “best companies to work for”, study how top brands manage to appeal to candidates. If you are a dealer then highlight the benefits not found in most aftermarket shops such as health insurance, a five-day workweek, training, etc.
Create an ideal working environment
Automotive service shops have evolved significantly since the 80s, however, there is still room for improvement. Creating the best working environment possible will certainly help to retain the best automotive technicians as they will perceive the management intention of developing suitable conditions for everyday tasks. A few ideas on how you can achieve this goal are listed below:
- Keep constant training programs. Few aspects motivate more technicians than training. Some managers mistakenly believe this is a waste of time (and money) as technicians can eventually leave. While it’s undeniable that a percentage will look for better opportunities as they progress, the truth is most of your technicians will appreciate the value of constant training.
- Buy the latest tools. Along with training, using the best tools in the market motivates auto technicians and mechanics to be more productive. Newer tools are usually focused on saving time and effort, so is a win-win combination. Technicians are motivated and you increase efficiency.
- Sense of belonging. The more your technicians feel like an integral part of your team, the more they will be happy to stay with you.
- Bonuses. Last but not least, money is a constant concern for most auto technicians. Reward efficiency, pay technicians according to their experience and performance. That’s a good way to keep their morale and motivation high as they won’t have to worry that much about bills.
Adapt your marketing strategy
Without a doubt, a successful marketing program is crucial for your recruitment efforts. The question is, what kind of marketing do you have in mind? Setting up a budget for paid ads will not enough if your message does not resonate with the potential applicants you want as part of your team. You have to address their concerns first, then yours. Be clear about what to expect, what is the pay you are offering, how many days of the week they are expected to work, additional benefits, and more. You have to put yourself in their shoes and then write a compelling copy.
What about marketing channels? You don’t have to limit your marketing to social media. Local newspapers may still be a good option if your shop is located in a small community. Here are some options you have at hand:
- Paid social media ads. As long as your copy is written to address potential technicians’ problems and doubts Facebook, Instagram, and Google advertisement are good options.
- Newspapers. As mentioned earlier, printed media can be a viable option depending on your community.
- Automotive associations. Local and nationwide automotive associations are a good alternative marketing channel. Depending on your state they may help you find suitable candidates for your shop.
- Job boards. There are plenty of job boards out there. Most of them have very low fees making them another good alternative to posting job offerings.
- Education centers. As mentioned earlier, a proactive approach would be to visit colleges and technical schools. Promoting your shop in education centers is also cheap, even free, so there is no reason for not taking advantage of it.
No doubt that nowadays recruiting qualified automotive technicians is challenging. Nevertheless, if you commit to developing a smart recruiting campaign where you exhibit a genuine interest in candidates’ welfare and give them the opportunity to build a career then chances are that you will end up with loyal automotive technicians that will help you with your goals.