Two contrarian realities can exist at once. If you need proof, just look at the retail automotive industry.
With the way that the American public is buying cars off the lot, you wouldn’t think that we’re currently in a recession — but believe it or not, that’s the case. According to Autoweek, people are still buying at a rapid pace this year, with 800,000 more new car and light truck sales in the first half of 2023 compared to last year.
Despite this, the rest of the economy is facing a stark reality: inflation has caused many to cut back. For the younger generation, this means skipping college and the astronomical student loans to go directly into trade work; after all, why would they rack up debt when they could be making significant money?
While vehicles are selling like hot cakes, dealers like you still can’t source the automotive technician talent needed to meet the current imbalance between supply and demand. Despite this shift in how employees think about work and life, investing in auto tech talent is still an uphill battle.
Changes in auto tech hiring from the recession
The economy is ever-changing, and along with it are changes in how your dealership finds and hires the auto tech talent you need. Below, we’ve listed the major changes we’ve seen reflected by job seekers in the retail automotive industry.
1 More high school graduates are skipping college
Like we mentioned earlier, one of the major trends we’re noticing is that high school graduates are forgoing higher education to join the workforce to make money instead of going into debt. There are three ways that you can use this to your advantage to hire automotive technicians.
For starters, you need to strengthen your existing relationships with local high schools and technical centers. As you know, these programs are designed to give graduates a foot in the door to the automotive industry and are the perfect way for you to connect with auto tech talent that haven’t even hit the hiring market yet. This is key, as talent gets hired fast. In fact, our 2023 State of Automotive Hiring Report found that 61% of job seekers in this industry accept the first offer they receive.
Secondly, you need to put people in booths at in-person job fairs. Yes, this is an old-fashioned recruitment channel but having a physical presence (and being able to answer questions on the spot) is pivotal to making a great first impression on candidates. Just like applicants need to put their best foot forward, you need to as well; after all, you are in competition with every other dealership in your community to hire the best of the best.
Finally, consider if there’s a way that you can establish an apprenticeship program at your dealership for talent who may not have the technical training or certifications that you’re looking for but are willing to learn. As this talent pool continues to dwindle, it will become more and more important to offer opportunities for workers to gain the skills they want and you need in order to adequately serve your customers. With an apprenticeship program, you can get more bodies in the bay that you pay less for than regular talent; the trade off is that what you’re not giving them in monetary value, you’re offering them value in terms of on-the-job experience and training.
2 Loyalty can be earned
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can help you earn the employee loyalty you want if you use it to fund digital onboarding. That report from earlier also found that 85% of automotive workers who had a positive onboarding experience said they are loyal to their current employer, which is great news after the wave the Great Resignation made.
Other than onboarding, you can (and should) build career pathways for your auto techs. When it comes to choosing an employer, this wave of workers wants to know that there are opportunities for advancement and further education. All you have to do is provide workers with the opportunity to grow and develop their skills — seems pretty simple, right? In a time when auto techs are hard to come by, you should be doing everything you can to earn their loyalty. It all begins with your new hire’s first experience with the company during onboarding!
3 Earn referrals from your employees
When you treat your employees right, you can do more than just earn their respect: you can earn some great referrals for other workers as well! Birds of a feather flock together, and in this case, gearheads know other gearheads. In our recent study, we found that 83% of automotive workers would refer their friends to previous employers if their experience there was a good one. Referred candidates are, on average, hired faster, stay longer, and are more engaged than other applicants. Additionally, this strategy reduces hiring costs and significantly reduce time-to-hire, making it a cost-effective and efficient solution for dealer staffing needs.
Tapping into your employees’ existing networks of former colleagues, friends, and family is made easier when you use an employee referral platform. Forget manually tracking who referred who and payout schedules — you can keep all of this information and more in one location with a modern employee referral program. This software should integrate seamlessly with your applicant tracking system so you can further eliminate room for human error in the hiring process.
Automotive technician hiring in the current economy
With so many cars driving off the lots, making sure that your dealership has the auto tech talent you need to keep customers happy is a priority. While the retail automotive industry may not be feeling buying constraints, the workers you want feel it — and they’re altering their approach to interviewing and hiring.
If you’d like to return your focus to keeping your inventory rolling, let’s connect to show you an easier way to hire better talent faster.