Most dealerships face challenges when it comes to attracting quality applicants for service technician positions and other key roles in the service department. Many factors contribute to these challenges, including fewer Millennials seeking careers at dealerships, job seekers not understanding the opportunity service technician careers have to offer and Baby Boomer technicians rapidly retiring.
By rethinking your people strategy, your dealership can have a plan in place to stand out from the competition and hire quality service technicians, ultimately increasing the profitability of your fixed ops department. Consider the following tips to get started.
Elevate the Perception of Dealership Service Technicians
Part of the reason dealerships have trouble hiring quality employees across all roles is that less than 1 percent of job seekers would even consider working at a dealership. This means your dealership will need to put in the extra effort to reach top candidates from both inside and outside the retail automotive industry. One way to attract more qualified talent to your open roles is to elevate the perception of service technicians.
Many job seekers have the misconception that working as a service technician means changing oil and tires and other “wrench turning” tasks. In all your employment brand materials — including your career site, your job descriptions and any information that is shared at local job fairs — you should make it clear that working at a service technician is a much more skilled job than most think it is. With the modern technology in most modern cars, key responsibilities of dealership service technicians include repairing sensors, high-tech engines and other technology found in most new cars today. At least one dealer has even gone so far as to say today’s service technicians have similar skills to computer engineers.
Highlight Training and Career Growth Opportunities
Similar to the misconception about dealership service technician roles as a whole, job seekers often make the mistake of thinking technicians have limited long-term career prospects. But this isn’t the case and starting out as an auto technician offers significant career growth at successful dealerships. Some technicians even rise the ranks to dealership group vice presidents and other leadership roles, including a top group vice president at Toyota Motor Sales, who started his automotive career at a Toyota service department in Cleveland, Ohio.
Make sure your career path is clearly highlighted on your career site. You might even want to include a visual, showcasing what each step in the career path looks like for your dealership service technicians and other roles across departments, as well as employee success stories. Your career path can help prospective employees who are researching jobs online get excited about the career opportunities beyond entry-level service roles.
To let job seekers know you’ll support career growth, it’s also important to highlight training opportunities on your career site and in job descriptions. For dealership service technicians specifically, you can offer initial training during onboarding to help them hit the ground running, and then set aside a budget for continued education. For example, your dealership can offer reimbursement for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) classes, which enable aspiring technicians to become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. As vehicle technology continues to evolve, continued training is important to both employee career growth and the overall success of your service department.
Rethink Your Sourcing Strategy
Since service technician positions are so difficult to fill, chances are your HR team and service managers spend a significant amount of time and resources trying to fill open roles. In many cases, this includes posting to costly job boards in hopes of attracting a high volume of applicants when you have an immediate opening. But not only do one-off job boards eat up your recruitment budget, they are also a hassle to manage. The average time it takes to post a single job board posting is 1.5 hours and each post can cost hundreds of dollars. If your dealership has frequent job openings for service technicians or other roles, the cost and time spent on each job board posting transaction will get unmanageable quickly.
To be more efficient when it comes to hiring service technicians, consider enlisting the help of an automated sourcing tool to manage the entire process for you. Companies that specialize in recruitment have access to tools that into networks of applicant sourcing channels — including national job boards, organic search engine feeds, local classifieds, social media and other niche source — to source quality candidates from proven sources. While the recruitment campaign is being managed for you, your HR team and service manager can save time and dedicate get back to other important tasks.
In addition to saving time and money, an automated sourcing tool can help your dealership attract more quality candidates for service technician roles and other job openings. When you invest in one-off job boards and don’t have a process to only focus your budget on sourcing channels that drive quality candidates, your team might end up spending time and resources on poor applicants. But, by accessing automated sourcing tools, you can shift to only spending budget on sources that drive quality applicants who are qualified to advance to the candidate stage.
The shortage of dealership service technicians is likely to continue throughout the coming years and, without quality technicians in place, your dealership risks losing business to the competition.