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5 Ways to Improve Your Shop’s 2024 Technician Recruiting Strategy

The automotive industry isn’t just facing a technician shortage—they’re facing a technician crisis. Projections from the TechForce Foundation paint a daunting picture, estimating that the demand for new technicians is set to soar well beyond 900,000 through 2026. A demand the industry is in no position to meet.

Just as concerning, according to WrenchWay’s 2023 Voice of Technician Survey Summary, nearly half of technicians have contemplated leaving the industry, and only 21% would recommend the profession to a friend.

Shops need to step up their game if they want to keep their bays fully staffed. Whether they like it or not, this is going to require making changes to their technician recruiting and retention strategies.

How Shops Can Improve Technician Recruiting & Retention

Change Up Your Recruiting Efforts

In a market where the majority of technicians are already employed, your shop has to vary its recruiting efforts. Relying on a job board ad doesn’t work as well as it used to. Shops need to cast a wide net across various platforms to not only get in front of technicians who are actively looking for work, but also the technicians who are employed but open to new opportunities.

Here are some places your shop should be recruiting for technicians:

  • Major Job Boards: Post on popular job boards to reach a broader audience. Platforms like Indeed, Monster, and ZipRecruiter help get your shop in front of a large pool of job seekers, albeit not always the quality of candidates you’d like to see. 
  • Industry-Specific Job Boards: Leverage specialized job boards tailored to the automotive and diesel industry. Platforms like WrenchWay cater specifically to our industry. You may not get the quantity of candidates you’d get from major job boards, but the quality will be far higher.
  • Social Media: Extend your social media presence beyond connecting with customers. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can be powerful tools for reaching potential candidates. Share engaging content about your workplace culture, and show technicians why your shop is a great place to work.
  • Dedicated Careers Page: Create a dedicated technician careers page (or link to your WrenchWay Top Shop page) to give technicians a detailed look at what it’s like to work at your shop before they apply.

Work With Local Schools

Shops and dealerships can play a vital role in addressing the technician shortage at the local level by connecting with schools. There are various ways shops can get involved with schools. Here are a few ideas:

  • Attend Career Fairs: Participate in local career fairs to engage with students directly and showcase the exciting opportunities the industry offers.
  • Volunteer for Advisory Committees: Offer your expertise by volunteering for advisory committees at local schools to help them align their programs with the demands of the job market and more.
  • Offer Shop Tours: Open your shop's doors for school tours to give students a firsthand look at the working environment and the diverse roles available.
  • Provide Work-Based Learning Opportunities: Offer various work-based learning opportunities, such as job shadowing and internships, to allow students to gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting.
  • Become a Speaker: Visit schools to speak directly to students about the different career paths and earning potential within the industry.
  • Donate Equipment/Tools: Ensure that students have access to up-to-date resources that reflect the latest industry standards.

WrenchWay makes it really easy to connect with automotive instructors at over 600 schools across the country. On the School Connect platform, instructors list out the help they could use from local shops, and shops can reach out directly if they can provide assistance.

Reevaluate Your Shop’s Technician Benefits

To not only retain your current technicians but also attract new ones, it's important that your shop offers competitive and appealing benefits. According to a recent survey, the top three factors that are most important to technicians when evaluating a potential employer are proper equipment in the shop, paid vacation, and paid training, respectively. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate things and think outside the box when it comes to perks to attract new and top talent. Things like having a written career path, providing tool allowances, implementing hybrid pay plans, and more go a long way with technicians.

Implement Digital Vehicle Inspections  

Digital Vehicle Inspections (DVIs) present a significant opportunity for auto repair shops to attract and retain top-tier automotive technicians amidst the current technician shortage. If you are unfamiliar with digital vehicle inspections, DVIs enable technicians to record all vehicle findings on a tablet, including pictures and videos of their findings. After performing the inspection, service advisors can then send a detailed report of all technician findings along with educational notes and videos to the customer. This improves inspection efficiency and consistency while boosting approvals by over 70%.  

Digital vehicle inspections can help you recruit the best technician, because DVI increases the number of billed hours sold per technician, making shops and technicians more profitable. According to data from AutoVitals, the industry leader in digital inspections, shops that effectively implemented DVI see, on average, a $300 higher Average Repair Order (ARO) than those who do not.Ultimately, a higher repair order value translates to higher earning opportunities for technicians. Additionally, digital vehicle inspections support a stable and profitable shop. Because technicians are looking for job security, digital inspections prove your shop is committed to excellence and profitability.

Additionally, digital vehicle inspections enhance your shop’s customer experience, in turn increasing technician job satisfaction. DVIs improve the customer experience by providing detailed insights into vehicle conditions along with consistent communication via email or text. In-depth inspection reports that show the customer exactly what the technician is seeing establish trust in the shop from the customer. When customers trust your shop, they are more likely to approve more work. This aspect is crucial for technicians who seek to work in environments where their expertise is valued, and they can engage in meaningful, high-quality work. A high recommendation-to-estimate rate indicates a shop’s commitment to professional integrity, attracting technicians interested in meaningful repairs​​.

Lastly, digital vehicle inspections support a clear and consistent inspection process for technicians. This clarity and consistency enable technicians to perform their work more effectively and with less error, leading to better customer outcomes, increased job satisfaction, and a sense of security. This environment is appealing to technicians who pride themselves on precision and structured work environments​

Improve Internal Communication

As the old adage goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That is true for every aspect of life, including your first interactions with a prospective technician. When a technician calls or visits your shop to discuss an open position, they are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. If you are constantly being interrupted by technicians, service advisors, and/or customers, this gives the impression that your shop is unorganized or poorly managed. Implementing internal shop communication and workflow tools can reduce interruptions and streamline processes to help your shop operate like a well-oiled machine. 

AutoVitals' internal chat function is designed to reduce daily interruptions and ensure that everyone in the shop is on the same page. From AutoVitals, chats can be tied to a specific vehicle. That way, any information regarding parts ordering, vehicle status, and more is readily available from the technician's tablet and from the service advisor's home screen. This allows service advisors to stay at the front counter, helping customers and technicians to stay in the bays working on vehicles. 

Communicating digitally improves every member of the team’s productivity and demonstrates that your shop is in control and organized. From their first impression, technicians will notice the difference between you and the competition. 

Although the technician shortage is a daunting challenge for the automotive aftermarket, there are many things your shop can do to improve your chances of hiring the best technicians the industry has to offer. Spread the word about your available positions by recruiting on all major job boards, social media, and your website. Partner with local schools and trade programs to make your shop a recent graduate’s first choice. Last but certainly not least, differentiate your shop from other shops by offering competitive benefits, digital vehicle inspections, and top-of-the-line shop management. 

About WrenchWay

WrenchWay is an online community dedicated to promoting and improving careers in the automotive and diesel industry. We highlight the best shops to work at, connect shops with schools, and give technicians and industry professionals a voice. Visit wrenchway.com to learn more.

About AutoVitals 

AutoVitals is the only complete shop success solution driving profitable growth for the independent auto repair shop industry. AutoVitals solutions include digital vehicle inspections (DVI), workflow automation, CRM, websites, and digital marketing. See how AutoVitals solutions can help your shop sell more recommended jobs, manage a greater car count, and maintain your highest standard of customer service at www.autovitals.com

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