Think Recruiting is Hard? Try the Retention Game


We. Need. Mechanics.

At Find A Wrench, we hear this desperate plea from shops every single day of our lives. It's why we have a rapidly growing business. The plea stems from the fact that they have waited for too long to start recruiting and are now in desperate need. Customers and staff are both frustrated.

It's not fun.

What typically triggers that initial conversation is something that happens every day. People leave their jobs. As younger generations grow, it happens even faster than ever. Technology platforms allow for easy access to opportunities and the 3% unemployment rate creates demand that for workers that we haven't seen in a long time.

For Mechanics, a red hot demand for their services along with a limited pool of candidates to choose from has resulted in the Technician world turning into the Wild West. This isn't just Mechanics either…In a recent Dealership Staffing Study conducted by Cox Automotive shows that Dealership turnover is at an all time high. The National Auto Diesel Association states that Annualized Dealership Turnover is currently at 46%. It's crazy to think that nearly half of your staff is going turn over EVERY YEAR. What might be worse is that the same study tells us that 1/3 of every dealerships staff is not engaged in their jobs. Which generation do you think has the least amount of engagement? In somewhat of a surprise, it tells us that only 58% of Generation Xers are engaged. This is the lowest engagement percentage out of all generations.

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Time to Change Expectations 

Based on the numbers, you can see pretty clearly that staff turnover is the new normal. Does it stink? Absolutely. Is it going to change anytime so? I really don't think so. The reality is that we need to face the facts that employee turnover is a fact of life at this point and you'll be better off to not only accept it but actually embrace it.

How do you go about embracing something that really stinks? Why in the world would you look forward to somebody you put a pile of training and effort into leaving you? Well, I hate to say it but it's going to happen whether you want it to, so you might as well figure out a way to make the best out of the situation. Understand that the world is changing and we need to adapt in order to run a successful business.

While not everybody is comfortable embracing this idea, I do think there are ways for all of us to drive Technician retention and promote an awesome employee experience. For example, take the time to understand what the Techs long term goals are. If they say that they want to open their own shop someday, encourage them to do it. Show them that it takes business skill on top of technical skill. Help them understand that it's a tough path but one that can be very rewarding.

Other opportunities to drive retention are to make sure you listen to what your Mechanics have to say. I often hear Techs talk about how nobody listens to their ideas or values their opinions. Can you imagine working in a place that openly shows that they don't care about your opinion? That would stink….and this is consistently a shared perception of the front office from the guys in the shop. Do you assume you understand what Techs think? I've made that mistake before only to have that blow up in my face. Ask, don't assume.

Another great way to drive retention with your Techs is to share your vision with them. Tell them where you see the business going in the future and how important they are to the future of that. Who knows, if they stated that one of their goals is to start their own shop, maybe encourage them by saying part of your vision is to open more locations and you'd be open to investing in their venture if you work successfully together. Not saying this is the right thing to do in all scenarios but it may open your eyes to other opportunities outside of typical retention methods.

Overall, recruiting and retaining staff is an expensive ordeal. The shift to far more demand than supply has us all in kind of a weird predicament. For many of you, this is a monumental shift in the way you handle staffing. Proactively adapting to a retention strategy on top of your traditional recruiting efforts is going to be huge.

Rather than fight it, I suggest you find ways to embrace the new normal.

Like this article? Check out these other articles that might be helpful to you!

The Technician Shortage is YOUR Fault!

Tips from the Football Field that you can use in your shop.

Selfish Reasons there's a Disconnect between Techs and Managers.

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