We continually hear, day after day, how difficult it is to find good help from shop owners across the country. "Can't find anybody that is reliable and can actually diagnose or fix things" is a common thought communicated to us…and in all honesty, it's really what drives our business. We help shops not only go out and identify potential candidates but try to communicate back to them that your shop has to be different in some way in order to attract top talent.
In conversations that I have with shop owners and managers, I routinely ask what their unique differentiator is. That is, what makes you different than every other shop that's out there? About 90% of the time, I get a common response.
"We've got a busy shop"
"We've got a good culture"
"We pay competitively"
"We have a great reputation"
These are all great things and are very valuable in driving a great employee experience. The only issue is that these are things that Techs are expecting every shop to have already in a highly competitive work environment. As the momentum pendulum swings to the side of Technicians as they become harder to find, the more a shop needs to understand what makes them different. It truly takes thinking and putting yourself in the shoes of somebody working in your shop.
So, what truly makes you different? Who better to ask than the people you work with or that work for you? Consider putting together a quick survey using SurveyMonkey, or some other type of program, to get honest feedback from the people in your business. Ask them what they feel is unique about your business and why they like working there. If they struggle to come up with answers, it might tell you that you need to really focus on improving your business internally, in some way. The idea would be to get a clear picture of what others truly think of the business. Whatever way you do that is probably dependent on your shop and the relationships you have with your employees.
If you follow some larger public companies such as Google, Amazon and Intel, they consistently use different forms of employee engagement surveying to track what's working and what's not. While none of us have the resources that they do as companies, you can easily put together a survey with some simple questions to pick the brains of those you work with every day. Ideally, you'd want to set a baseline of where you're currently at and start tracking it moving forward. Are you getting better or worse when you take another survey six months down the road?
The most important part of this is getting true feedback and taking a hard look at whether your differentiators are enough to attract new talent, on top of keeping the talent that you've already got. We've worked with shop owners and managers who thought they had a great culture and work environment, only to hear a completely different story from their employees. There's an additional layer to this is when there is management between ownership and the employees. Are your employees being treated with respect from Managers? It's really common to have owners get a smokescreen of what's truly happening in their shops from a Manager. I can't tell you how important it is to get the opinions of those working in the shop. Of course, you have to weed out the chronic "bitchers" from the crowd as they generally have some type of side agenda…but even they can have some valid points.
Are you willing to listen to people in your company enough to understand what you're truly good at and what you, well, suck at? Take an honest look and evaluate this. In my opinion, little things can go a long ways in showing that you care. Creature comforts such as schedule flexibility, air conditioning and generally great work conditions can go a long way. Maybe take them to lunch or pay for a tank of gas. Give them a day off when you know that they are having some family issues that need to be taken care of. These are really simple ways of showing you care.
On top of all of this, you should get to know your people at a different level. Have them take some form of profile assessment such as the DISC assessment or, my personal favorite, 16personalities.com to truly understand what drives each individual. Talk about driving employee engagement to another level! At that point, you're not only trying to drive employee engagement, you're starting to understand that each person is very different and the factors that make them happy are different as well.
I don't see a whole lot of shops doing what I explained above, electing to instead stick with what they've always felt their unique differentiators were…or even worse, thinking that employees are lucky to have jobs with you. If you're in either one of the mentioned categories, you might want to make some proactive adjustments to hear the voice of your employees. Being able to look in the mirror for an honest evaluation is a true differentiator in my mind as very few shops do this. It's not because they don't care, it's because they don't make time to understand this at another level. Remember, customer satisfaction is never greater than employee satisfaction. In order to understand what drives satisfaction, it's time that you listen to what your employees value. Once you understand that, do it extremely well and then promote the hell out of it.