The government statistics forecasting automotive and truck technician current and future needs is impressive. But, tech school enrollment is down, as well as the number of schools (particularly high schools) where a student can get a valuable dose of vehicle care. Phones and computers of all shapes and sizes have become the dominant interest for the younger crowd, with social mediums the icing on that cake. Not that you haven’t noticed.
At the same time the growth in vehicle counts and miles continues to increase along with the population of drivers. Stats claim some 260 million plus vehicles are now on the roads or waiting for the next jaunt to work, to leisure, a meeting, or to the bar (the other meeting). According to those government studies there will be some 1.2 million jobs available in the near future at a fill demand of 120,000 technicians each year – makes Snap-on happy.
So, where does that leave the struggling dealer service manager, always a tech or two short it seems? Surprising to some is that about two-thirds of techs work in the Aftermarket (versus franchises), while the annual SEMA/AAPEX Aftermarket bash is now hosting about 140,000 goers and growing nicely. The bottom line is that everyone is looking for competent technicians and the dealer body is a minimal player in the employment-demand pool.
Because of the dire need for dealer technicians, both maintenance and skilled sets, I most often find myself needing to help capture some acceptable players for my clients. When you figure average monthly stall expenses of some $10,000, and a potential for generating $18 to $20,000 in parts and service gross from a make-it-happen tech on that cement, what could be more important? And not only for the bottom line, but as importantly for customer satisfaction and retention too, not to mention getting those damn used vehicles on the lot quickly.
Over time, with much experimentation and waning budgets, we have developed a list of recruiting efforts to find that needle in the haystack so to speak. No one recruiting attempt was perfectly fruitful, but by using a combo of the following, we have had sweet successes without tapping the cookie jar too hard or eating up the clock.
- Message A Sandwich Board
People (you and me) will dislodge our necks to read a sandwich board note, and ignore a decorated $15,000 overhead sign. Recruiting on these portable message senders is cheap and with a simple memo, the job gets done. And the sign can easily be moved around to all-side streets and lots, to send the message to everyone passing by or visiting. You never know when Aunt Sara’s technician nephew Paco is looking for a better job.
- Message On The Parts Delivery Vehicle
A couple inexpensive magnetic signs will work just fine. These vehicles visit the perfect places to get technician referrals. How many peeps view this workhorse a day? And the price is right.
- Remind Your Own Staff & Family
Most dealerships have some type of internal program which includes paying a spiff for hired referrals. However, when is the last time that program was presented to your staff? And why not include their families and even friends in the referral program?
- Add To The Website Menu Bar
Is there a prominent “employment” link on your website menu bar? – probably not. This is an easy fix – consider how many individuals visit your site each day. Why hide the fact you are hiring? In some cases, this can even aid getting seen regarding employment searching. Too often I examine dealer websites and employment opportunities are hidden in the cellar.
- Recruiting Sign On Shuttle
Just like the parts delivery van, simple magnetic signs will work just fine. Sending the message out numerous ways is productive while taking little effort.
- Utilize Walmart And Other High Volume Locations
Take advantage of Walmart and other high volume locations by parking a wrapped (for instance) advertising vehicle (van) at the end of their lots. Move it to different locations to get great exposure, no sweating.
- Tap Tool Truck Owners
Tool truck owners gain tremendous exposure to what is happening in the local service market. In some cases you can offer a finder’s fee to him or her for referring a hiring opportunity from the Aftermarket – particularly the quick service outlets where turnover is perpetual. Let them know you can throw them off the lot if you want to – Ok, don’t go that far.
- The Military – from their website
“Nowhere else will you find a blend of job skills that include leadership, discipline, and pressure-based decision-making. In serving their country, veterans have trained to become your company’s greatest assets.”
Are you sick of employees exercising little discipline or caring about the work they perform? – look here. Who deserves a chance more than our veterans?
This website contained over 50,000 resumes (no kidding) from all over the country. Also, you can post jobs here. Pricing was reasonable starting at $199 for a 30-day post. This group also helps manage social media postings for you.
- Create Radio / Internet Recruiting Ads
Poll your technician staff to determine which radio stations they listen to, particularly during the day. You may find Pandora and other Internet stations are the predominant choice. Both radio and music stations offer advertising opportunities, which can be used for recruiting.
Affordable packages are available in mid-day when other candidate technicians are listening. It’s more effective to compact your message, i.e. once an hour for four hours rather than spreading it out over days.
- Go Get ‘Em – Grow Some
Years ago I was assisting a large Ford store which was suffering severely from a technician shortage. It was so serious that the manager and I went tech hunting one day at the local franchise (Firestone, Goodyear, etc.) shops.
We managed to hire three techs by studying individual work habits from the doorways, then asking selected techs to refer their tech friends to our preplanned evening interview and we would pay them a spiff. As hoped for, it was
those individuals who showed up for interviews. Sweet.
- Develop Tech School Relationships
A smart approach is to get closely affiliated with the area technical schools to find the top students in the graduating class. Offer to make an appropriate presentation for the teacher(s), who may love getting a break. Developing a relationship with the students and the teachers pays great dividends for finding and hiring the right personnel. Make time to take time. It’ll be worth it.
- Tap Your Data Base
How big is your database of patrons – 15,000, 25,000, 40,000? We have had success reaching out with email to a dealership’s database to find technician and other job candidates. After we thank our customer for their loyalty, we simply explain that we are looking for qualified candidates, and we know that they are familiar with good people they would like to see working at their dealership.
- Never Stop Recruiting
Never stop recruiting, always seek that special individual who fits the winner category. Typically smart managers will maintain a group of resumes, and they will stay in contact with potential and even past key players who may later join the team. Many find the grass isn’t so green over there after all.
The very best chiefs don’t get put in a corner by some employee’s ridiculous demands, or they will quit soliloquy. Rather, they stay prepared!!
Author: Ed Kovalchick
Ed Kovalchick is the CEO and founder of Net Profit Inc., Alabaster, AL, an international fixed operation consulting and training firm located in Alabaster AL. Mr. Kovalchick and his firm have assisted hundreds of dealers and manufacturers, and conducted workshops throughout the world for thousands of students since 1979. He has written columns for Dealer Magazine since its inception.