Everyone is looking for technicians. No matter which manufacturer you’re talking about, there seems to be no solution for the shortage. We are seeing unprecedented technician wage increases and sign-on bonuses that could buy a new car. Whether you like it or not, it’s time for us to change.
This article is not about the flat-rate system. In fact, I think the flat-rate system is one of the best possible ways to pay a technician. The focus of this article is how to keep the technicians you already have from leaving you; the very technicians that you paid to train. Before you stop reading, think about this. Does any other employee have as much training, tools, and experience to perform their job in the dealership as a master technician? Can you charge over $100 per hour for work performed by a master technician? Does an employee gross you over 75% that’s not a technician? So why are we struggling to keep them?
A technician sign-on bonus is not a new thing. They have been around for years, but so have technician retention bonuses. A technician retention bonus is a way to incentivize your current technicians to stay with you for a pre-determined time. Some people pay them before Thanksgiving, and others might wait until the end of the year. The point is if the technician could lose a significant bonus for leaving before year-end, the technician might think twice before leaving.
Another option is wage increases. The first and obvious option is a tenure increase. Yes, I know your technicians peak out at a certain rate, but why? You have someone who is loyal to you and your business; isn’t that worth something? You’ve heard of businesses having quarterly price increases, why not have the technicians’ wages increase as well? If you increase your labor rate every 3 months by .50 cents, at the end of the year, that’s $2.00. If you give your technicians .50 cents of the $2.00 annually, you have given them 25% of your new rate as a tenure increase.
Referral bonuses are another thing to consider. Technicians talk to one another, and there is no better way to find a technician than a referral. Instead of paying a sign-on bonus, how about incentivizing your technicians to bring you someone? Wouldn’t you rather pay money to the people that already work for you?
Perks of the job are something rarely discussed. When you’re an employee of the dealership, you typically get a discount on parts and labor. But let’s talk about real perks, like trips and event tickets. Often the dealership has tickets to a game, but the technicians are the last ones to know. When the dealership wins a trip, is a technician considered to attend?
We are always looking for technicians. Consider how many technicians you lost last year and how much it cost to get another one. I think a couple of box seats is a small price to save their technicians. Why not make it official and let the technicians know that as well.