A few weeks ago, Fullbay’s co-founder and CEO Jacob Findlay joined an industry roundtable to close out Find A Wrench’s TechMission 2020 – Diesel Virtual Event. This fascinating webinar summarized several of the previous discussions held over the course of the event, as well as discussed what those in the industry can do to ensure there’s a steady flow of techs for years to come.
Joining the discussion was Mark Wilson of Find A Wrench; HK Kashanipour of Diesel Forward; and Ray Clark of Truck Country. It’s an awesome roundtable, and we suggest you give it a watch or listen. But if you’re crunched for time, here’s a few takeaways:
We can’t produce enough technicians.
We’ve written and talked about the diesel tech shortage. It’s a topic that is understandably near and dear to the hearts of everyone in the industry. There are numerous reasons behind the shortage, from over-expensive schools to young people just not showing an interest in the industry.
Supplying techs to shops and dealerships in the future is going to require more creativity than we currently see.
Not everything has to be brick-and-mortar.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required a lot of changes – some of which are quite positive. Many schools are learning that not everything has to be done while inside a classroom or the bay itself. Software like Fullbay allows owners, managers, and techs to check in on work, order parts, or handle other administrative duties without touching anything or going into the shop at all.
We, as an industry, may need to provide free, or inexpensive online resources.
If a teenager wants to learn to rebuild engines, they can do some tinkering…but inevitably they end up pushed toward an expensive trade school, which may not be feasible for them financially or time-wise. Dealerships and shops may look toward pooling their resources and placing them online in an effort to get the attention of younger people.
There isn’t a magic bullet solution.
There unfortunately isn’t one simple fix that will lead to a sweeping, necessary change. One commercial isn’t going to make half of all high schoolers interested in working on heavy-duty vehicles. “There’s so much that can be done,” Mark from Find A Wrench says. “It’s okay to have one small thing. That one small thing does make a difference to the two kids that hear your message.”
Look toward non-traditional opportunities.
Diversity has been a hot topic in industries across the country. The group here came to a consensus: Hire the right person for a role, but remember: If everyone on your team thinks the same way, you aren’t going to get anywhere. That applies to the technician level, the management level, and everywhere else.
It’s critical to understand shop metrics.
This is shorthand for be transparent. Everybody in your shop should understand what makes your business tick. Techs may understand the basics (we’re charging this labor rate; this repair takes this much time), but too often they don’t understand how they get there.
Sharing how the business runs helps you share the burden. It also gives people a bigger stake in the company. “You can’t expect an employee to be loyal and take pride in their company if they don’t know what’s going on,” Mark points out.
Give people opportunities to advance.
Job applicants like the idea of a shop that promotes from within. The new generation in particular does not want to be pigeonholed into one role where they’ll stay forever, HK warns – if you do that, you’re going to face turnover.
With that said, you can’t just promote your best tech to a manager and expect a smooth transition. There’s gaps in education. That’s OK – “soft skills” like customer service can be learned. But you have to give people the opportunity to learn and grow into new roles.
All in all, it was a fascinating, far-reaching conversation, one that will hopefully lead to more ideas and communication. We’re thrilled that Fullbay was asked to attend, and if you do have some time to spare, head over to WrenchWay’s YouTube channel to see more of the conversations.