Hiring Forecast 2017: Overcoming the Technician Shortage

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by Adam Robinson of Hireology

Experienced technicians in the Baby Boomer generation, are retiring at a record rate. With the younger workforce either uninterested or uninformed about career possibilities aligned with vocational education, automotive dealerships and repair shops face a seemingly daunting reality: there are not enough auto technicians in the pipeline to fill the looming gap of retiring skilled workers.

Hiring and retaining auto technicians are some of the biggest problems facing the retail automotive industry today. Many dealerships have resorted to hiring entry-level talent and developing them as a way to supplement this lack of experienced technicians. While this approach could be a long term solution, it’s not providing adequate volumes of hires today.

The war for technician talent will only continue to worsen, while the demand for automotive repairs will surge over the next five years, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Immediate action should be taken to begin finding talented techs and encouraging them to apply for positions with your dealership, rather than your competitor down the street.

Here’s a look at some key ways to attract the right talent to your dealership:

Start Building Relationships with Tech Schools

Job boards are a good starting point to find auto techs, but they’re really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attracting the right talent. Go a step further and create a win-win relationship with a nearby tech school. Your dealership will get to build relationships with up and coming talent, while the school may be able to access the dealership’s auto shop or start internship programs for their students.

Utilize Social Media – and Incentivize the Result You Want

Don’t just post open technician positions to company social media accounts; have all current technicians at your stores post the jobs to their personal sites as well. While not every tech may be active on social media, it just takes a friend or colleague to notice a post and pass along an interesting position to someone who could be perfect for your latest tech opening. Try incentivizing employees to encourage them to support your recruiting efforts. Buy them lunch for sharing job postings, give them an Amazon gift card or bonus for referring talented job seekers – they’ll appreciate it and there’s a good chance that if you’re satisfied with their performance, that the people they know will be just as promising.

Build an Apprenticeship Program with a Visible Career Path

While apprenticeships may be expensive, the long-term benefits are worth it since your highly experienced technicians will be training the younger generation entering the workforce. An apprenticeship program that follows a defined career path helps train and develop younger technicians by giving them an incentive to stay with your dealership for the long haul.

Offer Training and Support

Consider offering ongoing training, OEM training, ASE certification or anything else that can help build the skills of young talent. Offering to pay for ASE classes is a smart investment for your dealership. You help your technicians gain on-the-job experience while you build a better technician team that’s fit to last. Plus, this additional support can only improve your reputation as an employer and give you more of a competitive advantage.

Provide a Tool Allowance

If your dealership doesn’t provide tools for technicians, consider providing an allowance or credit to help them buy their own tools. This is an essential benefit that many experienced technicians are looking for in evaluating top dealerships. If you don’t have the budget for a tool allowance for new tech hires, consider offering an anniversary allowance to celebrate key career milestones and incentivize your long-term employees.

Rethink Their Environment

Offering a comfortable environment for your auto technicians is a key plus for job seekers in this field. Consider providing heaters and AC units if a fully heated or cooled workstation isn’t feasible. Another way to attract top talent is to add state-of-the-art locker rooms. This is a growing trend among some of the best dealerships in the nation and is a huge benefit to attract any experienced technician. Their work is dirty – providing them a place where they can clean up and store their uniforms will go miles with your team. Also, providing complimentary snacks and drinks will help techs get through long shifts. Most appreciate this perk, and you will benefit from an extra boost of energy and motivation resulting from a relatively minimal investment.

Provide Up to 100 Percent Insurance Coverage

This is a huge benefit for your employees, especially those who must provide for their families. Accidents happen on the job; you want to make sure your technicians are taken care of and has the type of security that all employees like to have.

And, to Seal the Deal…

Consider offering a signing bonus. Doing this upfront places your dealership (as a preferred employer) ahead of your competitors, who are likely also looking to hire automotive technicians.

Want more on hiring technicians? Download The Complete Guide to Hiring Technicians whitepaper by clicking here.

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Adam Robinson
Adam Robinson is the co-founder and CEO of Hireology – the leading integrated hiring and retention platform in retail automotive – working with over 1000 dealerships in the US and Canada to help build great teams and drive profitability. He's the author of 'The Best Team Wins: Build Your Business Through Predictive Hiring' available at http://www.TheBestTeamWins.com.