Finding automotive talent is only half of the staffing battle — in order to keep operations moving smoothly, you need to keep an eye out on your retention rate as well.
While material shortages dominated headlines over recent years, the lack of qualified talent to fill pivotal positions in the service bay is the next obstacle heading to retail automotive dealers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dealers can expect to see around 67,700 automotive service technicians positions opening annually for the next decade due to a few key reasons. The biggest trends include people leaving key industries like retail automotive due to more options for work than ever before, boomers retiring, and younger people being uninterested in these roles thanks to the manual labor aspect.
While hiring managers have been focused catering to the candidate’s experience during the hiring process, special attention still needs to be paid to the members already on your team. You’re hiring so you can keep your crucial operations running smoothly; the last thing you want is to lose top performers from your team.
There is, however, an upside here. The same actions you’re taking to recruit top talent can be very influential in keeping the staff your dealership also has. Read on to learn how to optimize current human resources trends to keep your best workers on your crew.
5 people strategies to increase retention
At the core of your retention strategy should be your people. Consider whether the following people strategies would enhance your current efforts and how you could implement them at your dealership.
Make retention an onboarding goal
The ultimate goal of your onboarding process should be to gather and share all of the information necessary for your dealership’s newest hire to join your team — but this period is also crucial for your retention efforts. Your onboarding process is the first introduction a new employee has to your dealership as an employer.
As with meeting a new acquaintance, you should want to give the best first impression you can since this will impact how they view you in the future. In our 2023 State of Automotive Hiring Report, we found that 85% of the automotive workforce who had a positive onboarding experience said that they are loyal to their employer. Your onboarding process should then be to pre-board talent so they stay engaged before their first day at your dealership. This can be accomplished with digital onboarding and checking in with new employees periodically before their start date. By getting this tedious work out of the way, you can get new hires into the service bay faster so they can spend more time with their coworkers and to productivity that much faster.
Rehire your current workers
Your dealership has likely adopted new policies designed to make you more attractive to prospects; have you extended these perks to your existing employees as well? Feedback from dealers has indicated that animosity can grow when new hires are given preferential perks in recruiting.
To combat this trend, you need to make efforts to rehire your current staff. Keep perks equitable across the board. If new hires are given more PTO or opportunities to develop professionally when starting, make sure that your senior staff are equally compensated for their employment. You need to constantly be recruiting your team if you want to keep them with you. Competition is steep for qualified automotive technician talent and your workers know it — so show them that you value their dedication and decision to work at your dealership just as much as new team mates.
Show employees a future with the company
Uncertainty breeds anxiety. It’s human nature to go with the path of least resistance, and if a future at your dealership isn’t explicitly clear to your team members, you’re doing more to deter retention than to improve it.
To curb this tendency, it’s crucial that you develop clear career pathways at your dealership. By communicating potential opportunities for advancement, you can motivate employees to maintain a standard of performance and learn more skills to earn a promotion. While this obviously benefits your staff, it also leads to more experience on your team — and lowers your recruiting costs for pivotal positions. Career paths give employees a reward for hard work and dedication while playing to their sense of loyalty. When workers feel like they’re fairly compensated for their work, they’ll be more likely to speak highly of your organization and refer former colleagues or friends with shared interests to shop at and work at your dealership.
Pair promising talent with mentors
Training isn’t just for new hires. Your team’s educational pursuits shouldn’t end just because they achieved their ASE certification. Giving your employees the opportunity to pursue learning opportunities is very important if you want to earn their loyalty.
In our study from earlier, we found that the second leading reason for automotive applicants to accept a lower paying offer was career growth. You can create a space for this to organically happen for your employees by establishing a mentoring program at your dealership. To do this, you’ll need to pair senior talent with employees who want to grow in their career. These arrangements will allow your workers to develop relationships with other team members that can help improve retention. People want to work with people they like and, unfortunately, it can be difficult for these friendships to grow with other departments if workers are isolated in the service bay or parts department.
Show your appreciation
Finally, make sure your techs know how much you appreciate them. People like hearing thank you, so make sure to regularly plan ways to express your gratitude.
Simple gestures like hosting luncheons or gifting branded SWAG can go a long way with your team. If you want to go the extra mile, come up with relevant awards to disperse among your team mates for superfluous characteristics or work anniversaries. Share your team’s accomplishments on your social media profiles as well, to demonstrate your employer branding to potential applicants as well.
Sourcing the automotive technician talent you need is already difficult — save yourself some hardship in the future by improving your dealership’s retention rate. There are multiple ways you can encourage your team to continue their career with your dealership, five of which we’ve outlined above. To learn more about how you can make your dealership a place where job seekers want to be hired at and stay, download our 2023 State of Automotive Hiring Report for a look at what workers in this industry want from their employers.