So, You Can’t Find Service Technicians?

Lee Newsletter PicI was making a 20 group presentation not long ago and someone said to me, “We need technicians and we can’t find them.” Wow! That was music to my ears. We are really starting to turn the corner it appears. Hopefully, we all have learned one thing from the last couple of years; it was the worst time we have seen in the car business, and, personally, I don’t care to participate in another and I’m sure you feel the same.

So what’s your game plan? How will you build your business to counter or minimize this experience? How will your business model be different? Let’s start with the customer. It’s simple; you can’t afford to lose a single one!

Soft new car and truck sales will have a severe impact on your business in the near future, unless you act now. Convenience is the future of your business. Convenience does not have to be a fully operating express service type of operation. It can be as simple as having your business structured to provide an accurate promised time to each of your customers. Knowing your production capacity is an integral part of accurate promise times. If you have more demand than capacity, your operation will continue to run around trying to survive the day. Three days in advance on appointments is not acceptable; at the least, you should be next day. You need capacity, but apprentice level technicians will be a band-aid on a major wound. You need experience.

The first step in hiring the cream of the crop is you must understand this is no longer an interview to see if you want to hire them. It’s not about what you want, it’s about earning consideration, and it’s about marketing. You must position your dealership to be perceived differently than the other stores in your market.

This approach requires a whole new mind set on the manager’s part. I ask managers this question, “What makes your operation different?” better yet, as a technician, “Why would I want to work for you?” “What makes you different?”

I usually get the same answers, “We pay the most in the area, we have tons of work, we have a 401K plan, we have a great working environment,” etc. Nothing mentioned is truly unique and separates the store from the others. When they all appear to be the same, it always falls back to pay – the amount per flat rate hour.

We have all seen the beltway jumpers, the ones who would sell their grandmothers for $.50 more per hour. Those are the ones you don’t need. The ones you want are the ones that are unhappy because of operational issues, not because of money. I have a dear friend in the business who told me if the employee is focused only on the money, it will never be enough. Now don’t get me wrong, we all work to maintain a level of living that is comfortable for our families. But, if the only reason we work is for the pay check, then he’s right.

Now consider this, if the money is my focus as an employee of your dealership, how does that affect customer retention? Who would need it more… me or the customer?

The following are what I consider as “also run” types of sales points that should be avoided in any type of print advertising:

  • Immediate opening
  • Fastest growing
  • Great environment
  • Strong customer traffic
  • Plenty of work
  • Excellent benefits
  • 401 K
  • Apply in person
  • Experienced need only apply
  • Paid holidays
  • Paid vacation
  • Performance bonus
  • Paid training
  • Paid medical (if less than 100%)
  • No phone calls
  • More work than we can handle
  • Highest pay rate
  • An amount per hour
  • Highest pay in…
  • Our top technician made $750,000 last year

Now the real work starts. I just took away 95% of some manager’s material. We need to focus on why a technician should consider your operation. Sales points, such as air conditioned shops, can carry a lot of weight in certain markets. Maybe sit down with your technical staff and ask them why they enjoy working at your dealership. These could be the sales points you place in your ads. Consider points that will truly set you apart, points that offer you a distinctive advantage over the others in your market. During the 20 group I mentioned earlier, the dealer who was looking for technicians had a unique sales point for his dealership, he had several tow trucks. I thought this was a great idea to move front and center in his marketing for technicians.

Points such as: Our trucks tow an average of xx vehicles from the highway, or, we have a built-in traffic builder.

It may not be for you, but it’s different, and that’s what we must focus on.

I have a selection of classified ads that we have used over the years and have had good success with. Send me an e-mail and I will be happy to share them.

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