The automotive industry’s well-documented technician shortage is a serious concern. For the 76,000 technician positions that are vacated annually, whether technicians changing industries or to retire, only 39,000 new techs are coming out of vocational schools. If the shortage hasn’t affected you yet, it’s probably going to very soon.
The challenge for human resources personnel and service managers isn’t just finding warm bodies that are willing – it’s finding qualified people to step into vacant positions. And because the job market isn’t flush with job-seekers with the training and certification to work the bench, creative techniques are required to recruit new techs.
The cold, hard truth is that you’re unlikely to fill every open position with an ASE-certified technician. There will be growing pains. But with open-minded hiring practices, you can ease the burden on your current team and take a step closer to being fully staffed.
Advertise ‘Bird Dog’ Bonuses for Current Staff
Like-minded people tend to congregate together – managers with other managers, salespeople with other salespeople, and yes, technicians with other technicians. Some team members would rather not get involved in recruiting friends and acquaintances… until they have an incentive to do so.
Make it open season for your technicians to help you recruit additional techs. Offer a small bonus for each lead they bring you that turns into an interview. Then, if one of their leads results in a hire, kick in a serious financial bonus.
As a suggestion, give $50 for every interviewed prospect and $500 to $1,000 for a tech that you hire.
Recruit from High School Programs
It’s long been suggested to partner with vocational schools to apprentice and hire your technicians. That ship is sailing off into the sunset as dealerships are quickly snapping up those students. Now you’ll have to go a step earlier yet and attract students graduating from high school.
Get in touch with instructors in local high schools that can make introductions with students who might be interested in getting hands-on in the automotive industry. Offer tuition reimbursement for students who apprentice with your dealership and a guaranteed position upon graduation.
These students are a long-term investment in your dealership’s future, but a necessary step to build your ranks.
Pull from Outside the Automotive Industry
Other industries have pilfered techs from dealerships regularly – the railroad and industrial mechanic positions especially. And you can’t fault the techs for going elsewhere when offered higher pay and more benefits. But you can take a page from their book and hire from outside your own industry as well.
Think about this: with today’s more advanced vehicles that are increasingly computerized, why not recruit from an industry flooded with applicants that are analytical and tech savvy? Many STEM-related graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) might be more suited to the technical aspects of an automotive technician role than automotive tech graduates themselves. Consult with a recruiter that can think outside the box to find candidates for your technician vacancies.
The underlying problem, though, still needs to be addressed head-on. The reason technicians leave – aside from retirement, that is – usually isn’t because of low wages. Most often, it’s a toxic dealership culture, the high cost of tools and training, and lack of trust and transparency from their management team.