Auto technicians have been in high demand for years. Tech school enrollment has been declining, while at the same time, the number of cars and drivers on the road continues to increase. And the recent post-pandemic labor shortage has only exacerbated this need. Folks have also reprioritized their work/life balance and mental health and for many workers, technician roles are often associated with low pay, inflexible hours, and poor working conditions.
In fact, according to the Techforce Foundation, demand for new technicians has nearly doubled since 2020. And the auto industry will be short roughly 800,000 technicians by 2025. This will have profound effects on many dealerships financially. Fixed operations revenue represents a large portion of your bottom line — even more so now as the new car chip shortage continues — and without technicians, this stream of revenue will take a hit.
So what can you do?
The good news is that there are people out there with the skills and desire to be great auto technicians, and according to a recent Hireology study, workers today are generally not loyal to their current employers. This means there is opportunity to connect with and attract great talent for your roles. You just need to take some time to re-think your recruiting strategy and adopt some fresh techniques to make these roles more desirable for your current workforce.
At Hireology we work with thousands of dealers. We asked some to share what they’re doing in order to build a pipeline of great technician talent:
Connect with local tech schools
There are millions of young people entering the workforce every single year. Why not form relationships with these folks early on in their college careers so that when they are ready to work, they’re familiar with your dealership, and interested in your technician roles?
We have one customer who regularly connects with relevant programs at its local tech school in order to educate young talent on this type of work and what they offer as a dealership. They also work to form relationships with the students individually — even inviting them to events on-site at their dealership. Not only do these efforts give this dealership a leg up, but they also are great for further changing the perception of technician work among the workforce.
A big reason why hiring has been tough in the post-pandemic market is because workers have reprioritized their work/life balance as well as their personal health. People want the flexibility in their schedules so they can do things like pick up their kids to school or care for an ailing parent. And the automotive industry has traditionally lacked that degree of flexibility.
Of course for many companies providing more flexibility comes in the form of remote work, which isn’t possible in the automotive space. But that doesn’t mean flexibility isn’t an option. Some of our customers have changed their scheduling process so that folks have more of a say in the hours worked. Some have even experimented with giving employees the power to schedule themselves each month. And others have offered increased flexibility by offering more paid sick days or personal time off.
Build out career paths
Another reason why folks with the skills and interest in being a technician decline these types of roles is because they don’t see a future of growth for themselves. Traditionally, the automotive space isn’t known for offering professional development opportunities — particularly on the fixed operations side of the business.
But why not? Technician work is complex and difficult. It’s something that should come with years of training, mentorship, and development. Some of our customers have taken the time to create different levels of roles within their service side that come with different training and educational opportunities. As folks move up, they could gain training in people management or on the sales side of the business, for example. That way they can diversify and expand their skill sets. And it paints them a future they can aim for.
Attract non-traditional auto talent
Auto technician work is not simple. And as cars get more advanced, the skills required to service them advance too. In fact, today’s top technicians have similar skill sets to software engineers. This means that if you’re targeting traditional auto dealership talent pools, you might be missing out on highly qualified and skilled workers from outside of the industry for your open technician roles.
The key to expanding your talent pool and attracting non-traditional auto applicants is to rewrite your recruitment marketing materials — namely your job descriptions and career site copy. Simply put, people from outside of the industry won’t know they can apply to your roles if you don’t make that known. Many Hireology customers have chosen to include a wider range of skills and experience required for their roles and have made it clear in both job descriptions and on their career sites that anyone with adjacent backgrounds are welcome to apply. Be sure to mention any training opportunities that you offer as well.
Not only does connecting with non-traditional auto talent give you more talent for your pipeline, but it is also extremely beneficial to the success of your organization long-term. Teams with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives almost always deliver better outcomes than those with less diversity.
Update your employee referral program
Lastly, breathe some new life into your employee referral program. Employee referrals are consistently the top source of new hires among Hireology customers. This is especially true in the automotive industry where individuals often rely on word-of-mouth through friends and peers when looking for work. This type of employee-based recruiting also contributes to changing the perception of the profession among the workforce. Folks are much more likely to change their opinion about working in the space when they hear about it first-hand from a trusted acquaintance.
But of course the key to maximizing the results of your referral program is to make sure your program is set up for success. The biggest change many Hireology customers have made is rethinking what they offer for a reward — either increasing the total sum or restructuring it as an hourly wage increase. Others have added elements of competition to encourage existing employees to participate, like giving additional awards to folks who share the most roles on social media. And some have increased the frequency or changed the message of their internal email and SMS campaigns to garner more interest.
As today’s workers re-evaluate what they want out of work and more young people enter the workforce looking for greater flexibility and work/life balance, there is an opportunity to attract more talent to the auto technician space. Put in the time now to make real and lasting changes to what you offer your technicians and how you market and communicate your open roles, and you’ll find that great talent is out there.
Hireology is here to help. Our all-in-one hiring and HR platform is trusted by one in four dealerships nationwide. Schedule a free demo today to learn more.