I recently got an email from a reader that made me think a little bit. His question was: Do you have any good ideas on how to keep technicians?
In my 35-plus years in the industry, I’ve counseled hundreds of shops and have had the good fortune of meeting thousands of techs. Not that this makes me any kind of expert, but I’ve developed clear opinions from these relationships and experiences. So here are my thoughts.
First, let’s get the No. 1 complaint off the table: compensation. Remember, the market sets the rate. If you try to discount that rate, you’ll lose people constantly. It’s important to evaluate your market regularly and have a competitive compensation plan. Don’t do what you hear people are doing three states away or in a different market. Your business model needs to include rates in your local area that are competitive. The exception is if you wish to run a noncompetitive shop and provide less than what customers in your area expect. Evaluate your employees’ skill sets and experience and pay them accordingly. If you don’t, you’ll never get past that first hurdle of retaining good talent.
The next issue is a little less clear. Since most of us out there are Baby Boomers, it’s even grayer. We were taught that we were lucky to have a job and should be grateful for a paycheck. That’s all changed. Today, it’s, “Is my shop a good place to work?” What type of environment is it?
Start by looking at the office. This is as good as it gets in most shops. If you see things you don’t like, it’s only worse in the shop.
Remember, you set the example in the shop. If you let things slide, so will your employees. This sometimes leads to a not-so-good-looking environment. Your employees spend at least one-third of their life at work and want it to be a desirable place to be.
What’s the demeanor of the shop? Do people get along, and does it foster a team environment? If not, people get petty and riffs will be ongoing. Do the workers feel valued? Positive reinforcement and a thank you go a long way.
Do your people have the training and equipment they need to do their job to the best of their abilities? This is one area many owners overlook because it takes an investment to stay current. Remember, an updated item of equipment can many times pay for itself quickly in efficiency gains. New, shiny equipment at the shop across town can look pretty good to a tech who’s suffering with old technology.
On the training subject, if a tech is well-trained and confident, he or she will be more efficient at the repairs.
It really starts with us. People stay with organizations they like. Of course, they have to have the right skill set for their job, but we need to ensure they have a good environment to do that work in. It’s a fact that some will go just because they’re nomadic individuals. You can’t stop this behavior. The others who are good need to stay in our organizations. Be sure you’re paying attention and asking the question, “Is this a good place to work?”
Remember, people are our most valuable resource. See you at NACE!