A topic that often comes up within various aftermarket associations is a shortage of service technicians. The deficiency differs by association but it is often said to be down 60,000 to 100,000 quality technicians. Factors that are contributing to this shortage include: wage, working conditions/hours, compensation, retirement, and position changes. Some also believe that the complexity of the job has lowered the number of individuals showing interest in the automotive industry; more skill is needed now to be a technician than ever before.
Although there are no quick fixes for this undesirable situation, we can at least recognize that a problem exists and find a strategy to effectively attract and retain quality technicians.
Analysis of Staff and Sales
1. Access your current service staff (A Tech, B Tech, Sr. Tech, etc) and divide them by title and record their wage rates.
2. Look at your service sales for a 12-month cycle (accounting for seasonality) and categorize by “technician level required” and “technician level assigned”. Are your technicians being scheduled appropriately?
3. Performing and reviewing this analysis should help you make more informed business decisions and determine the correct technician levels needed. Inflated service labor costs, dissatisfied technicians and poor morale may be caused when you do not assess the needs directly, and assume a tech with a higher skill level is needed for the service when it is not. Managing these indicators can improve overall business results.
What Does Your Shop Offer?
1. Determine what your shop has to offer in comparison to your competition. Areas such as wages, benefits, schedule, training, future advancement, workplace and tools are good indicators that will attract quality employees.
2. Review what method of compensation you use for your technicians. There are pros and cons to all methods (hourly, hourly plus bonus, commission, flat rate) but you must find one that works best for your employees, your business and your customers.
Sourcing Your Technicians
1. Online postings (iATN, your website/Facebook page), referrals from parts vendors and tool suppliers are great ways to find qualified technicians. Veterans can also be considered (recruitmilitary.com) as they may have had similar experiences in the field. Shops that give the opportunity for employees to develop and advance in positions have a greater chance of retaining an individual.
2. Locate young talent in your area by contacting high schools and colleges that offer automotive technology in their curriculum. Get involved with SkillsUSA, NATEF, AYES and other organizations that help develop technicians of the future. Technical training centers like Lincoln Tech and UTI have a program to communicate open positions to students in your area.
There needs to be a primary shift throughout the industry to nurture these young, talented technicians after graduation and allow them to gain hands-on experience by giving them opportunities.
Guidelines for Selection
Make sure hiring guidelines are in place to fill these important positions.
Some elements to consider include:
- A detailed interview process that consists of technical questions to show the candidates knowledge and behavior
- Pre-employment testing of basic skills (reading, math, etc.), technical knowledge and ability to learn new skills
- Technical and practical assessment
- Reference/background checks and drug testing