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The Ultimate Technician Onboarding Guide for Service Managers

As a Service Manager, one of the most significant challenges you may face is hiring experienced and entry-level Technicians who consistently show up on time and become long-term, productive team members. However, the success of your new hires is not solely dependent on their skills and work ethic; it also heavily relies on the onboarding process you provide.

Onboarding is a critical aspect of employee retention and satisfaction. It sets the tone for a new hire’s experience with your dealership and can make or break their long-term success. Unfortunately, many Technicians have reported not receiving any factory training even after six or more months of employment. This lack of training is especially prevalent among entry-level Express or Lube Technicians and Main Shop Mechanical Technicians.

The consequences of inadequate onboarding can be severe. Technicians who feel unappreciated, overlooked, and discouraged may seek employment elsewhere, leading to high turnover rates and lost revenue. The cost of replacing a Technician can be substantial, including the time and effort spent on recruiting, interviewing, and training a new hire.

To ensure the success of your new team members, it’s essential to review your current onboarding process. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How much time, money, and effort do we commit each time we hire a new employee?
  2. What is the average time it takes to replace or add a Technician?
  3. When was the last time the Management team reviewed the hiring and onboarding process?
  4. What is the turnover rate in the department over the past year or several years?
  5. Is anyone tracking this information?

The answers to these questions will vary depending on your dealership’s size and demographics, but they will provide valuable insights into areas that may need improvement.

Once you have selected a new team member and set their start date, it is crucial to ensure a smooth transition. Before the employee’s first day, gather all the necessary information and complete the following tasks:

  1. Prepare a Manager’s New Hire Checklist specific to each position.
  2. Provide the company Employee Handbook and obtain a written acknowledgment of receipt.
  3. Provide a written job description that includes position-specific responsibilities, expectations, shift days, and hours required. Obtain a signed acknowledgment form.
  4. Provide the written pay plan for the position and obtain a signed acknowledgment.
  5. Gather the employee’s valid personal email address for verification purposes when setting up access to training and manufacturer repair information.
  6. List all computer access points required for the position, including:
    • Dealer DMS (Defined position access, ID number, username, temporary password, and payroll setup)
    • Manufacturer site access (Defined job role, training access, and repair information access)
    • Any other necessary computer system access points
  7. Create and provide a written training path guide that includes each level of manufacturer Technician Certification, course descriptions, levels, and definite time frames for completion.
  8. Assign entry-level Technicians to a specific Mentor or Group with a leader responsible for guiding them through processes and ensuring their understanding.

One of the most overlooked items in the process is a defined training path from the date of hire. Technicians and Advisors often lack a sense of progression, a clear definition of success, and an understanding of how to advance in their roles. To address this, consider implementing online training from day one, providing a dedicated area away from distractions where employees can take required online courses.

The goal is to provide new hires with all the necessary access and training on their first day. Depending on the Technician’s experience level, it may be beneficial to spend a defined day or days orienting the new team member with a combination of Process, DMS, and Manufacturer training, rather than immediately assigning them to repair vehicles.

As a Manager, it is essential to include a guided introduction to the facility and a formal introduction to the team. Gather everyone together for a quick morning huddle to welcome the new hire aboard. This small gesture can go a long way in making the new employee feel valued and included.

Investing time and effort into a comprehensive onboarding process will greatly improve your company’s retention rate and overall employee satisfaction. In turn, this will drive improvements in customer retention and revenue. By setting your new hires up for success from day one, you are not only investing in their future but also in the future of your dealership.

The importance of effective onboarding cannot be overstated. It is a critical component of building a strong, productive, and loyal team. By taking the time to review and improve your current process, you can ensure that your new hires have the tools, knowledge, and support they need to thrive in their roles and contribute to the overall success of your Service Department.

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