Before the pandemic, the perennial biggest problem in the automotive service industry was high technician turnover.
The good news is that’s no longer the case. The bad news is that now the biggest problem is there are no techs to hire in the first place.
The reasons for this well-known shortage are beyond the scope of this article. But we can shed some light on one thing we believe will give dealers a better chance of attracting and retaining more experienced, skilled techs.
But first, what makes employees leave for those proverbial greener pastures?
Moving the Ball
Dealers can’t be blamed if they feel they’re facing a unique manpower problem, but the current situation tracks with employee challenges in all industries.
A common question on employee surveys in a corporate setting is, “Do you have everything you need to perform your job?” This may not be asked very often in a dealer service setting, but maybe it ought to be. If it were, the answer would likely be something like, “I need whatever helps me do my job faster, easier and safer.”
That’s a reasonable request. There’s an old saying: “People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers.” Just as often, they leave their working conditions. Being a tech is hard work. Being a tech in a shop where obstacles to getting things done are common makes hard work harder.
Frustration caused by such difficulties can often lead down a familiar path. Employment studies consistently show that regardless of your job or industry, there’s one overarching need to be met every day: the need to feel that you’re making progress. That each day you’re moving the ball a little further downfield. Each day, you’re getting closer to where you and your business want to be.
When this sense of progress and accomplishment is missing, the result is employee disengagement. The result of employee disengagement is employee turnover.
A Quick and Simple Solution
To be sure, there are many aspects to creating and maintaining a great work environment. Eliminating toxic situations, careful recruiting, a thriving company culture and competitive benefits are just a few. And it’s true these things can take a tremendous amount of time, effort and certainly money to address.
Yet one of the easiest ways to add to a great auto service work environment is by providing high-quality techs with the high-quality equipment they deserve.
That’s because techs … are techy. They know capable equipment when they use it and appreciate it when they have it. They want to get things done the right way right now.
It’s no mystery why. Their livelihoods rest on demonstrating maximum efficiency. If subpar equipment requires 10 minutes to change a tire, efficiency goes by the wayside. When that’s the case, they’ll make the rational economic decision and look for somewhere they can use machines rather than fight them.
Or, as a recent commenter on one of our online videos vividly put it, “At the end of the day, when I’m sweating my butt off in a 90-degree garage, which machine is gonna help me the most and make my job easier?”
What Good Equipment Says
Moreover, techs experience what the quality of equipment can say about how the dealer values its employees and its customers.
Good equipment pays off in profitable production, keeping employees safe and happy, and superior customer service. Keeping employees happy is sometimes overlooked, even though the costs of high turnover — which range from painfully expensive at best to exquisitely expensive at worst — can be crippling to a business. Yet turnover is often among the most repairable problems a business can have, because it’s usually within its control.
Appreciating the connection between good equipment and good outcomes is something management cannot afford to miss. Employees will not.
Give Them a Reason
To increase the chances of employees staying, give them a reason to stay. If you want a highly visible and tangible way to say, “We care” and “This is a great place to work,” saying it with your equipment choices is the easiest one you can find.
It’s also likely the cheapest. The money “saved” by purchasing mediocre equipment leaks away with a week or two of lost revenue from technician turnover. Good equipment coupled with good techs not only rapidly pays for itself — it pays for everything.
Talented techs know the difference. Reliable equipment delivers results quickly, safely and without backbreaking labor. Investing in quality equipment allows you to invest in the great techs you have — and attract the ones you need.