How to make sure you find, train and keep top talent.
Recruiting, retaining and training top talent is becoming increasingly difficult. With enrollment in technical classes declining at the high school level (according to the Institute of Education Sciences), and with skilled trades being the hardest job to fill in the U.S in 2014 (according to staffing firm Manpower), shop owners have to resort to unconventional methods to get new techs in the door, and keep them there. The increasing complexity of the cars on the road, and the training required to keep them there, makes training and retaining employees an important part of running a profitable business. Here’s how some top shops around the country make it work.
■ Work closely with local tech schools to make sure your shop is front of mind for techs just entering the industry. “We have a couple of days a year where students from the local technical colleges come by the shop,” says Romney. “We bring them in and put them on a bench with a builder and let them tear one down.”
■ Set expectations early. According to Chris Murphy, owner of Chris Murphy’s Automotive in Dallas, Texas, “you have to set the expectations early to help keep new techs from being unrealistic.”
■ Hire green talent fresh out of school rather than bring in someone from other shops. “Sometimes it’s better to get a greenhorn and train him the way you want, rather than try to teach an old dog new tricks,” says Bob Romney, president of Intermountain Transmission Exchange in Salt Lake City, Utah.
According to the IHS, both the age and number of
cars on the road are at a record high, which
means more required maintenance, and more
techs are needed to perform the work.
■ Make training a priority. “I require 40 hours of ongoing training per year for all my techs,” Murphy says. “I send all of my techs to training seminars. Even my guys who have been here 30 to 35 years,” he says. “You bet.”
■ Offer to pay for tech’s training. Keeping your technicians up to date on the latest technology is a must. “A lot of techs don’t want to go on their own time, or shops don’t want to take them out of service for a day to go to training, but I make sure they go and I pay for it,” says Murphy. “Your shop benefits exponentially from it.”
■ Utilize professional associations for training. According to Romney, the training put on by associations like ATRA and ATSG offers some great information. He utilizes as many as he can for training courses and seminars.
■ Keep offering training for your techs. Education never stops, and the speed of innovation in the automotive industry isn’t slowing down. Make sure that your techs stay up-to-date by continuing to offer these training opportunities and benefits. Keep the training accessible, and your techs will stay current, allowing your shop to complete more jobs.
■ Take some of the burden of commission based income off your techs. Murphy offers what he calls “hybrid pay.” In this structure, he offers a flat hourly rate for the techs when they’re on the premises on top of their usual commission. This helps his techs budget, knowing that even in a slow time at the shop they’ll be taking home a certain amount per week.
■ Be flexible. Murphy says he gives techs an hour-long window in which to show up for work and start their eight hours from there. “You might have a tech who has to drop the kids off at school in the morning and can’t get in until an hour later,” says Murphy.
■ Think outside the box. Sometimes it can help to be different. Offering untraditional benefits, like discounted health club memberships, can offer your techs something they may not find elsewhere, making them more likely to stick around if they take advantage of the offer. Think creatively and make the offer relevant to your tech’s lifestyles and you may retain top talent longer.
■ Pay attention to new employees’ feedback at the beginning of their tenure. “If somebody is a good tech and is trainable, they’ll let you know in the first few days,” says Romney.
Training and Recruiting Toolbox
Here are just a few of many organizations that can provide training, recruiting and education:
ATSG – www.atsg.us/atsg
ASE – www.ase.com
I-CAR – www.i-car.com
ATRA – members.atra.com
UTI – www.uti.edu
Career Builder – www.careerbuilder.com
Auto Max – www.automaxrecruitingandtraining.com