Techs: Job Satisfaction Equals Increased Service Revenues

job satisfaction

It is no secret that recruiting and training service technicians is expensive. Tech turnover can cost a dealership money in many ways, including recruiting and training expenses, mistakes due to inexperience, and lost production.

Automobile News quotes Ted Kraybill of ESI Trends as saying that a 10 percent increase in employee turnover will cost the average dealership $500,000 in gross profits annually. Kraybill also estimates employee turnover in the car business to be an $8 billion dollar problem nationwide.

In an ideal world, you would hire a tech once, train him (or her) up, and then reap the rewards from years of loyalty and service. This may have been possible in years gone by, but it is next to impossible in today’s job market.

The New York Times ran an article recently that highlights the massive shortage in qualified technicians in the job market today. Mark Davis, automotive programs manager at Seminole State College in Florida estimates that 2017 will see a shortage of at least 25,000 techs that are needed in the marketplace.

What does this mean for your organization? It means we are living in a technician’s world right now. With so much demand and so few techs available, shops will need to get more aggressive to attract some of the available talent, but your challenge doesn’t stop there. Shops must also work to keep competitors from stealing this talent, once recruited.

In this context, it is important to understand the relationship between recruiting and retaining talent. In a competitive market, it becomes necessary to offer bigger incentives to recruit talent. However, this is money wasted if a plan for retaining the talent is neglected. Equal focus should be placed on retaining talent, and retaining talent starts with job satisfaction.

So what can you do to boost job satisfaction and reduce turnover among your technicians?

Job Satisfaction

In a 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management we learn that the top factors for job satisfaction are 1) communication between employees and senior management, and 2) relationships with immediate supervisors.

Common sense might suggest that pay is the number one factor in job satisfaction, but this is apparently not so. There are plenty of anecdotes about technicians who have left a “toxic” working environment to go make less money elsewhere.

So, tech job satisfaction starts with respect and recognition for work performed. It is also important to recognize the other intangibles your technicians bring to your organization. Everyone wants to be valued for their ideas, but do your technicians have the access they need to make themselves heard?

Do your techs have access to senior management? Do you foster positive working relationships between techs and supervisors? Many dealer principals have an open-door policy for employees, but this may not be enough. Employees need to feel like their ideas and concerns matter. Show you care by listening and implementing ideas that will benefit your organization a whole. Then, recognize where the ideas came from.

Training and Tool Programs

With the competitive hiring market, many shops offer paid training and ongoing certifications for techs in an effort to recruit and retain talent. This approach can be a two-edged sword, as the concern is always present that the tech you paid to train will leave before you realize a return on your investment. However, if coupled with a healthy work environment and employee involvement, it can be incentive to keep the best talent.

Some dealerships also contribute to tool programs for techs to help them obtain the tools they need. Again, this can be risky, but it also shows your commitment to the long-term development of your techs.

Work/Life Balance

In conjunction with the respect spoken of earlier, it is important to recognize that your technicians are people first and employees second. They have lives outside of work, and (as much as you might want to ignore it), work is not the most important thing in life for most employees (nor should it be).

A major factor in job satisfaction is how it impacts all other aspects of an employee’s life. Create a working environment that allows time for life outside of work, and supports the good things people do outside of work. You still have vehicles to repair, and profits to be made, but they don’t have to be made at the expense of the workers who make it all happen.