Do you know the reasons why your technicians leave?

Some thoughts on technician retention


There are a multitude of reasons why technicians leave their place of employment.

Do you have any clue why your technicians quit your place?

I’ve come up with an idea that will help you retain your people and, at the same time, help your operation better its bottom line.

A Narrow Focus

Vehicle maintenance and repairs shops typically have a dedicated technician recruitment department or person, and invest a significant amount of money to advertise and recruit qualified technicians.

There is usually a well-defined program to drill down to the type of individual, with the necessary knowledge, skills and experience, to be a good fit for the shop.

Once a technician is hired, the shop’s training department or dedicated training personnel take over.

Here again, there is generally a thorough program to get the new hire quickly acclimated to the policies, procedures, methods and equipment at his or her new company.

As time goes on, the shop keeps its promises to its new technicians, especially about such important things as working hours and conditions, compensation, time off, etc.

The result of all this: A technician that is loyal to his/her company and will not leave unless there comes along one of those I’ve-got-an-offer-you-can’t-refuse job opportunities.

If only this were the case.

Technician Opportunities

Technician turnover is an expensive issue which no shop can afford in today’s business climate.

Consider this: The employment of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians is expected to grow 16 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Department of Labor estimates that approximately 110,000 new positions will be added by 2016. Meanwhile, automotive technology is becoming increasingly complex, sophisticated and technical. Those technicians who have remained informed about new developments and have the right training will not have a difficult time finding job opportunities.

Can you afford to have disgruntled technicians?

The investment has been made to find and train qualified technicians, so why not bankroll a concerted effort to keep them?

New Management Position

Here is my idea: Shops create a position called Manager of Technician Retention. This person - who ideally would have experience as a technician, plus exceptional people skills - would be given the responsibility and authority to take the steps necessary to retain technicians.

The Manager of Technician Retention’s first order of business should be to learn the main reasons why technicians are unhappy and leaving. This is not a daunting task. Simply ask technicians what is bugging them and they will tell you.

However, I recommend this be done through anonymous surveys or questionnaires so technicians can detail specific concerns without fear of reprisal.

Survey findings need to be analyzed and then programs put in place to address the discovered problems and concerns.

Here’s another piece of advice for the Manager of Technician Retention: Conduct exit interviews. These are helpful in learning the reasons why an employee leaves a company.

Here again, as with technician surveys, exit interviews are pointless if the lessons learned aren’t put into action.

Improvement Programs

I encourage the Manager of Technician Retention to create programs and initiatives to “improve” working conditions for technicians. These can be such simple things as rewards for attendance, safety contests, performance contests, wellness programs, nutrition programs, gift cards for “catching” someone doing something right, rewards for money-saving ideas and so on.

Having effective technician recruiting along with technician retention programs is a win-win situation for both technicians and their companies.

Such programs help make for happy and loyal technicians. The more content and faithful technicians are to their company, the less likely they are to leave.

That means a better return on investment in recruiting and retention. Consequently, there will be more money available for other things, like compensation, benefits and newer shop equipment.

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