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Your techs are the absolute lifeblood of your shop. We’ve written extensively about how to recruit them and how to keep them, as it’s a topic that’s near and dear to our hearts. Recently, Fullbay CEO Jacob Findlay and COO Chris O’Brien sat down to chat with our friend Jay Goninen from Find A Wrench. What followed was one of our most interesting webinars yet, focusing entirely on how to recruit and retain excellent technicians in today’s environment.

You can watch the replay here, or keep reading to learn some of the takeaways.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KEEP TECHS HAPPY?

The days where you could just pay your techs and consider your job done are over (if they ever truly existed). If your techs aren’t happy (or at least content) with their working environment, they will have zero problems leaving you.

So why does it behoove you to keep them happy?

  • There’s going to be a vacancy of 76,000 tech jobs per year. People aren’t just not joining the industry. They’re actively leaving it.
  • That’s a lot of empty roles to fill in shops. You are competing with thousands of employers for a dramatically reduced workforce.
  • The COVID situation has opened the eyes of a lot of techs. 78% are open to other opportunities. If they were treated well during this situation, they’ll stick around. If they weren’t, they’re realizing there are a lot of openings elsewhere.

HOW DO YOU RUN A SHOP THAT MAKES OWNERS AND TECHS HAPPY?

Next, the group moved on to the elements that contribute to a good working environment for techs and shop owners. They had some good points:

  • Develop clear expectations. Owners need techs that make customers happy; techs need owners that set clear expectations. Clear expectations can boost morale. A lot of techs like to know where they stand. Fullbay can help with this, by the way.
  • Communication is key. All too often – in any line of work – the only inkling you get regarding how well or poorly you’re doing is in a once-a-year review. Almost everyone would much prefer to receive performance feedback – good or bad – much faster. Keep a dialogue going in your shop. Let techs know how they’re doing. Are you tracking technician efficiency? If techs have real-time stats in front of them, they can see where their shortcomings are and work to improve them.
  • Be upfront. Share your “Break-Even Number” with your techs. Show them exactly what it takes to run a business – not just salaries, but utilities, mortgages, insurance, and so on. It can be eye-opening. Sharing this kind of information with your staff keeps things transparent and builds accountability. People want to feel like they’re part of something. Seeing how much of the shop’s well-being is in their hands can cultivate a sense of duty amongst your techs, leading them to go the extra mile again and again.
  • Treat your staff like humans. People tend to act the way you treat them. Do you give them food? Air conditioning? A nice bathroom that technicians don’t have to clean themselves goes a long way. If a shop owner thinks techs are a dime a dozen…techs are gonna leave that shop owner.

WHAT’S THE BEST PROCESS TO HIRE TECHS?

The answer to this is simple: Always be hiring.

Picture, if you will, a nice shop that operates perfectly. One day, their senior technician gets hit by a bus. He’s fine, but he’ll be out of commission for months. You’ve got to bring someone else in, and fast. When you “hire out of desperation,” at best you end up with someone who doesn’t fit in with your culture; at worst you might even end up with a toxic tech.

HOW TO MAKE AND KEEP A WINNING TEAM

Once you assemble your rock star techs, it’s on you to keep them where they are. Yes, things like salary come into play – no one is interested in working for free – but some of the takeaways were:

  • Call out the good stuff. Reward a job well done when the job is done. Don’t highlight it weeks or months afterward in a review. Do it now. Conversely, if someone’s doing something wrong, let them know when it goes wrong – that way they can prevent it from happening again.
  • Provide the right tools. Yes, your techs have their own tools, but there will be some you’re expected to have on hand. Make sure those tools are well-maintained; few things are going to irritate your techs more than trying to work around malfunctioning equipment.

WHAT DOES THE ECONOMIC RE-OPENING MEAN FOR THE INDUSTRY?

The COVID-19 pandemic permanently changed the way many industries do business. Repair shops were not spared; many of them had to shift the way they work. But the economy is starting to perk up again. What does this mean for shops? The guys touched on a few ideas, but here are two that stood out:

  • PMs are the name of the game again. Fleets that have put off PM work are descending upon repair shops. That’s a lot of new business a shop can grab.
  • Fully embracing technology. Lots of places have realized that doing things one way for years doesn’t mean you always have to do it that way. For example, numerous businesses have realized that they can get a lot done over Zoom. Jacob wisely notes that you can’t make a repair over a Zoom meeting, but the pandemic did introduce a lot more people to features like customer portals (not just ours!) and remote work.

SUMMING UP

How are you feeling about your own retention? Do you need to hire additional staff? If so, go ahead and watch the entire webinar for some additional great tips.

 

Ready to start looking? Visit our friends at Find A Wrench to start your hunt for good techs.

Suz Baldwin

Suz Baldwin got her start in the automotive industry, writing and editing for several motorcycle and classic car magazines straight out of college. In the years that followed, she’s written all sorts of copy for brands big and small while consuming enough coffee to paralyze a dinosaur.