Here’s a painful truth: the number of top-quality auto technicians available for hire is dwindling. Becoming an auto mechanic is not being promoted as a career path in schools, and the A Grade Techs are aging out of the industry. Here’s another: it’s probably going to cost you more, either up front or over time, to get and keep the best technicians in your employ.
Half of all shop owners say ‘lack of technicians’ is their number one problem
Highly qualified workers are looking for less stress and better pay than they get at the average auto repair shop. Given that mechanics have to buy the vast majority of their own tools, work long hours, do physically demanding work and have taken years to gain their experience, imagine how they may feel when they see that the receptionist earns the same or more than they do.
Here’s the challenge for you, the repair shop owner, who needs to maintain your workforce, add to your team (or create one from scratch): have and maintain a workplace that they want to work in and pay them a living wage. That sounds simple, but it means taking a hard look at your operation, from the workers’ point of view.
Before we get into the How to hire good auto repair technicians lets talk about a couple of things you can do to help the process.
Be The Best Shop In Town
Make your shop a place where your employees want to be, they should be proud to tell people where they work, rather that someplace to escape from at the end of the day.
If your main office/showroom is neat, clean, and friendly, but the shop is dimly lit, cluttered, and lacking climate control, you already know what you need to do.
If your parking lot is always full of Junkers that no tech wants to work on, if you are in court chasing bad payers all the time, if the outside of your business is a mess, you are not going to be thought of in a positive light by local techs (or customers).
If you have a reputation as being mean with your money or not paying your bills on time why would anyone ever want to come work for you?
Have the latest equipment available for your technicians to use, the latest scanning tools and modern lifts? No one wants to work with old equipment that needs constant repair and workarounds.
As for pay, you already know where this is going. You can’t run a repair shop if there’s nobody willing to do the work because you don’t pay enough. At the same time, you’re looking at your bottom line and worrying that you can’t raise pay and stay in business. That’s where Profit Boost can help you determine profitability and tech efficiency.
The built in Profit Per Hour indicators on each repair order let you know if you will make any money on the repair and the technician efficiency reports help show you who is earning their money and who is maybe spending too much time on non income producing things.
The point is, an automotive technician’s salary is generally below the national average for all jobs lumped together. You must take a hard look at your budget and decide if you can afford to ignore the loss of the best talent.
Book time vs clock time payments and bonus schemes are the things of hours of discussion and more than one set of notes scribbled on the back of envelopes at every shop. Don’t forget to think about an annual bonus based on the business profits and even a bonus if you sell the whole business.
If a valuable technician, working on a job that goes badly wrong through no fault of his or her own, works five hours, but only gets paid for two, that technician may eventually decide that getting paid for actual hours worked is more important than working for you. As the auto repair shop owner it is your job to make sure there is enough work to keep all your techs busy throughout the week and that you treat them right when things beyond their control happen.
Now you have the best Auto or Transmission repair shop in town and decent pay schemes in place lets look at How To Find Good Auto Repair Technicians
Technicians tend to know each other, they know who a good brake guy is, who knows their way round any transmission and they also know who they would never work with again if they had a choice. Let your techs know you are ready to bring on a new member of the team and they may well have someone in mind.
They won’t recommend someone who is going to be difficult and they won’t introduce you to someone who is going to bring the team down.
Don’t discount someone just because they come in to your shop off the street. The first words I heard one of my best ever technicians say was “I heard you are the best place in town, so I want to work here.” The high reputation that the shop has locally lead the best tech in town to come speak to us.
Build your own team of top-class auto techs. Take someone who is a bit green but willing to learn and work hard while doing it and turn them from a C level to a A level tech. Give them allocated training time, whether that means watching training videos, going on courses or working with other technicians. The time it takes to train auto technicians may seem like unprofitable hours, but you are in fact investing in your company’s future.
There is always the fear that as you train them, they will leave for another shop, we have already mentioned how important it is for you to be the best shop in town with decent pay and a good working environment so why would they want to leave?
You may also have to get up off your aspirations and do some networking. Sticking a Help Wanted sign in the window is probably the worst way to find a tech and it can make your customers think that you do not have enough staff to fix their car in a timely fashion.
Posting a job listing online may not get you the best candidates, many shops are reporting lots of spam contacts and totally unqualified chancers, but it may be worth trying. If you have a local Facebook marketplace group then try posting there. If you are happy to train people then check out job fairs, you may meet someone who has been a vehicle technician in a different industry and is looking for a change. If you are able to deal with an apprentice situation then speak to trade schools.
Networking at places like charity groups and local fundraisers can bring the benefit of customer recognition but also bring you to the forefront when technicians are looking for new opportunities. So they may not show instant benefits but when the techs are thinking of leaving their current job they will remember what a good shop owner you appear to be.
Reputation Beyond Your Home Town
The best service writer we ever worked with moved from his home town to ours to work for me. Why uproot yourself and move across country for a job that at the time didn’t pay anymore than his current position.
Why would anyone cause themselves the stress of moving and getting into a new job for no extra money? Because they wanted to work at the one of the best shops in the country, to gain experience of working at the top end of the business and to prove they could manage the biggest and busiest shop.
To quote a baseball film “Build it and they will come”, if you build the best auto repair shop in your town and let people know you have the best shop, pay fairly and treat staff and customers well then top level auto technicians will come to you.
Make sure to bookmark us and when you are ready to test drive new Auto Repair Shop management software come back and try Profitboost.
Hope you enjoyed the list of 5 tips on How to Hire A Good Auto Technician.
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