Like many other fields, the automotive industry has been hit by a shortage of qualified workers. That isn’t just due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the “Great Resignation,” either. Many other factors have contributed to the industry’s current predicament, from the dwindling interest in “car culture” among teens and twenty-somethings to a decreased emphasis on auto shop classes in public schools.
It’s far from surprising to hear that the automotive industry would be about 642,000 auto, collision, and diesel technicians shy of demands from 2020 to 2024. Meanwhile, baby boomers still employed as technicians are retiring en masse, to the point where some sources claim their annual retirement rate is approaching 9%.
While most things contributing to this problem are out of your control, you can do one big thing to encourage technicians to work for your shop and motivate them to stay there–continue training efforts. Learn how your auto shop can attract new employees and retain current techs with career development.
Career Development Should Be a Priority
The increasing retirement rate of baby boomer technicians has had a noticeable impact on auto shops nationwide. And with millennials starting to take the industry’s reins, you’ll need to consider that one of their highest priorities is career advancement. In fact, a recent survey found that 91% of millennial professionals consider the chance of progressing their careers to be of vital importance when finding new jobs and 53% of respondents were “disappointed” by subpar personal training options at new jobs.
When you look at these findings and combine them with the current employee turnover rate, you might conclude that companies are falling over themselves to enhance their employee training programs. But you’d be wrong, as a mere 15% of employers believed personalized training was essential for employee engagement. That means your auto shop has a unique opportunity to attract and retain solid talent through training.
How to Help Techs Grow
Now that you know why professional training opportunities are necessary, it’s time for the next step–figuring out how to add new training programs to your shop or enhance the programs you already have. These ideas may be just what you need to get started:
Conduct Regular Training
In any business dealing with technology, the only true constant is change. That’s definitely the case for the automotive industry, so it’s a good idea to make sure your technicians can keep up by holding quarterly training sessions.
These sessions can cover all sorts of areas related to your business–from new marketing initiatives to part core management. Additionally, consider enlisting the help of your veteran techs–ask them to teach new employees tricks to improve efficiency or inside tips they’ve learned over the years. An important component to remember is including management training for those interested in climbing the ladder or owning their own shop one day.
Pay for Classes
When your technicians are learning more about their industry, they’re becoming more valuable employees and actively adding value to your business. Consider making this education process worth their while by paying for them to take a class annually.
Depending on the resources available where you are, these classes could take place at local trade schools, at nearby community colleges, or even online. If you find that this strategy works well for you, it may be wise to make ongoing education mandatory for technicians at your shop.
Create a Mentorship Program
Your most experienced technicians know the ins and outs of your auto shop better than just about anyone else. That means these technicians are the perfect choice for training new employees. Make it official by teaming newcomers to the shop with workers who have proven themselves over the years.
This model doesn’t have to be limited to bringing new technicians on board, either. You can also use it to help grow the management side of your business.
Go One-On-One With Technicians
It may feel like you have to be a mind reader to figure out what your technicians want from their workplace. But that’s not the case–simply ask. By talking directly to your employees, you’ll be able to ensure your shop’s new and improved training programs actually meet their needs.
A great way to make these conversations feel as natural as possible is to hold regular one-on-one meetings with the technicians working at your shop. There, you’ll be able to ask them how their jobs are going and what you can do to make it a place they’d like to stay.
Empower Techs with Consistent Work
By now, it shouldn’t be hard to understand how important a career development program can be in attracting and retaining new technicians. Still, training alone isn’t enough. To keep your technicians happy, you’ll also have to offer them a steady flow of work. Without that, they won’t be able to put their training to use while building experience on the job.
That’s where a solid marketing strategy comes in. Many of today’s auto shops rely on automated marketing software like BayIQ–and for good reason–BayIQ can streamline your marketing efforts and get more cars in the door.
Built by experts from the auto industry, BayIQ provides easy-to-use features like email and SMS text marketing, a loyalty reward program, automated appointment scheduling, solicited online reviews, and more to create a cohesive marketing strategy–one that will keep customers coming back and technicians busy.