Guest Blog: How to retain technicians and boost technician satisfaction

Jan. 8, 2021
The foundational piece of a good technician recruiting program is to ensure that you have a good place to work.
Image by Radosław Kulupa from Pixabay
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The foundational piece of a good technician recruiting program is to ensure that you have a good place to work. The better your offerings and your shop, the easier it will be to pull talented technicians into your business.

One of the best ways to ensure you have a place that technicians like to work is to first understand what frustrates them. At WrenchWay, we wanted to know about what types of things irritate technicians at work, and there is no better way than to ask them directly.

Through our WrenchWay Insiders app, we were able to ask technicians what their feelings and frustrations were on the job. It’s great to be able to get good, candid feedback from our “Insiders” (as we like to call them) to give us a true pulse on the industry. Some of the answers were expected, while others were eye opening.

What are technicians’ biggest frustrations?

It was no surprise that 29.8 percent of technicians listed salary was their biggest frustration at work. From the feedback received, there were a few different reasons as to why pay was the number one struggle for them. For some, it was focused on their actual hourly rate of pay. Others were more concerned with how they were paid. Finally, not surprisingly, there were a lot of concerns around flat rate. 

The second largest frustration was lack of career advancement options (25.8 percent). Surprisingly, technicians were almost as frustrated with career advancement limitations as they were with pay. There was a major concern, especially for techs in independent shops, that shop owners and managers didn’t have a formal career development plan in place for technicians at their shops.

While our focus for this article will be on the top two frustrations, other frustrations noted by technicians included:

  • Schedule/Lack of flexibility: 19.4 percent
  • Tool investment: 19.4 percent
  • Other (i.e., recruiting, reputation/perception, etc.): 12.1 percent

While none of the technician frustrations were overly surprising, it does give shop management a good idea of where to focus their time and effort in order to increase technician satisfaction and retention

How management can start to address technician pay

Starting with the top frustration of technicians, let’s get one thing straight about technician salary: If your shop’s pay isn’t at least competitive in your local market, you’re not going to recruit or retain great technicians. There simply aren’t enough techs to fill all of the open roles that are out there, and this gives techs all the leverage.

I highly recommend doing regular market research on what shops in your area are paying their techs. This doesn’t mean you have to pay based on what other shops are paying. However, you need to know where your shop stands. Something else to keep in mind is that shops will tend to reach on pay if they are desperate. This means that even if their current pay scale isn’t competitive to yours, shops will consistently go out of their normal range to get somebody they like. 

One of the most important pieces when it comes to technician pay is to have candid conversations with your techs to get a clear understanding of how they feel about their pay. Not saying that you’re going to change to whatever they want, but it helps get an understanding of where they want to be. If anything, this gives you the opportunity to educate techs on why you structure pay the way you do and what other expenses you incur as a business. 

Having these candid conversations around pay can be awkward, but the more you have the conversations, the more you understand your techs and the more they understand your business.

How management can start to address technician career development

As we learned from the feedback we received in the WrenchWay Insiders app, technicians are also frustrated with lack of career development opportunities in the shop.  

To start addressing this issue, make sure you’re communicating your vision for the shop with your technicians. Not only will this help technicians get a better understanding of their role in achieving your shop’s vision, but it will also help them see the future opportunities available to them as the shop grows.

Next, while some techs will be perfectly content staying where they’re at, others will want to  know what steps they need to take to advance their career as a technician. Oftentimes, this goes hand-in-hand with salary. Technicians want to make more money, and they want to know exactly what needs to be done to get it. Other technicians may be interested in moving into different positions such as management, and want to know what steps they can take to gain more experience in that area. 

Regardless of where a technician wants to take their career in your shop, the key piece of this is they want you to tell them exactly how they can get there. Developing career development plans for different roles in your shop can take some time, but it is imperative in order to recruit and retain your technicians.

The overall theme: Open communication 

Like everything else I preach, having open lines of communication with your technicians is a vital piece for creating a great place to work. If you don’t have a great place to work, talented people simply aren’t going to choose to come work for you. Not only does creating a great place to work make your life easier, it creates a culture that superstars want to be a part of, and that is the ultimate foundational piece to any successful strategy for recruiting and retaining technicians.

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