GUEST BLOG: How Shops Can Retain Diesel Technicians
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average of 28,100 openings for diesel technicians each year over the next decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers leaving the industry or retiring.
While we, as an industry, can’t do much about baby boomers retiring, what we can focus on is keeping younger technicians in the industry. ASE Education Foundation estimates 41% of technicians leave the industry within the first two years. Clearly, this needs to be a focus area for shops.
At WrenchWay, we recently hosted a two-day virtual event, TechMission, where technician retention was a hot topic. Here are the three big focus areas we discussed in order to keep technicians from leaving the industry.
3 Focus Areas for Shops to Increase Technician Retention
The first couple of weeks set the tone for the duration of a technician’s career at your shop. It’s imperative they get started on the right foot. The key to successful technician onboarding is to have a clear plan in place. Some onboarding tips for shops include:
- Onboarding begins before the first day. Before a technician’s first day, give them as much information as possible up front. Simple things such as telling them where to park and what they can expect to do on their first day will help them feel more comfortable entering the shop on day one.
- Try the buddy system. It’s also a good idea to “buddy up” new technicians with another tech who has worked at your shop for a while, so that they can have an additional person to go to with questions. (Just make sure the other technician knows they are “buddied up.”)
- Set expectations. Obviously, it takes a while for a new technician to get acclimated in the shop. New technicians should have a very clear idea of what is expected of them 30, 60, and 90 days into the job.
Unfortunately, employee recognition is an area where we see a lot of shops fall short. Employee recognition is key to making your technicians feel appreciated. Some employee recognition tips for shops include:
- Get to know the team. First and foremost, get to know each individual on your team. Each employee is going to want to be recognized in a different way. While one technician may appreciate a shout out during a team meeting, another may prefer to be told they’re doing a great job in a one-on-one setting. The only way to figure out individual preferences is by getting to know each individual.
- Don’t wait for the annual review. Recognizing employees shouldn’t just be something done in an annual performance review. Employees, especially those from younger generations, want to be recognized regularly.
- Highlight the impact. Employees want to know they are an asset to the team. Make sure when you recognize them, you explain how their work is directly contributing to the overall success of the shop.
Career Development & Training
It’s pretty simple — if technicians can’t envision a future at your shop, they’re going to leave. Technicians are looking for a shop that has a clear path for career growth. Some tips for shops include:
- Understand career goals. It starts with a conversation — ask your technicians what their career goals are and where they’d like to see their career in 5/10/15 years.
- Identify skill gaps and create a training plan. In order to determine what additional training is needed to help technicians reach their career goals, you must determine where there are skill gaps. Once gaps have been determined, you can create a training plan.
- Communicate often. Make sure to check in often with technicians to see what progress is being made, and what, if anything, is preventing them from moving forward and reaching their goals.
WrenchWay's mission is to help solve the technician shortage in the automotive, collision, and diesel industries. Our software solutions are used by technicians, schools, and shops with the goal of attracting new people into the industry and making improvements for existing technicians. Learn more at https://wrenchway.com
Author: Sara Kerwin, Director of Marketing, WrenchWay