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I'm trying to hire, and literally cannot find anybody. Ideally I'm looking for a full time parts hanger. Somebody that has little or no diag experience or isn't comfortable with electrical work, but can do the basics on their own. Where do I even try to look? I've tried CL and Facebook to no avail. I've called both of the local community colleges with automotive programs, and it's just crickets. I don't even want to pay them flat rate, I'll more than happily pay them hourly.
And PLEASE, for the love of god, I don't want to hear the lecture on 'you need to hire nothing but master techs'. That doesn't help me, nor fix my current problems. I know what I need. I just need help trying to figure out how to find it. Nobody becomes a mastertech without doing basics first anyways.
Free webinar for all members hosted by @Ron Ipach from Captain Car Count!
As you already know, finding good, qualified technicians isn’t as easy as it was in years past. Gone are the days of simply placing a few ads online or in the newspaper help-wanted section.
When you combine the fact that more shops than ever are in the hunt for qualified applicants, with the ever-shrinking pool of technicians to draw from, it’s no wonder so many shop owners are frustrated with their search.
Attracting good technicians today requires a radically different approach, and on this highly informative online training event, Ron Ipach, president of Repair Shop Coach, will walk you through the same strategies that his clients are using to attract lots of highly qualified to their shops on a consistent basis.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Time slots vary and are held weekly:
Please reach out to @Ron Ipach for additional information.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
If there is one thing our industry has done since the very beginning, it’s put technicians into the role of service advisors. The rationale is that they have a good understanding of automobiles, which will enable them to be competent advisors. Unfortunately, that’s the furthest from the truth. Although an in-depth understanding of automobiles can be an asset, there are a number of other things you should consider before offering a service advisor position to one of your techs.
First and foremost, you need to consider why they want the position, or why you are offering it to them. If they suggested they would like to become an advisor because it has become difficult to work on cars at their age, then they may very well be the wrong person, because they are looking to become an advisor out of necessity rather than interest. The same is true if you are looking to move a tech into an advisor position when that tech has shown little interest in becoming an advisor in the past. Two of the most common mistakes we see at Elite are shop owners making this hiring decision out of necessity rather than interest, or out of desperation rather than inspiration. In either case, there is a high probability of failure.
Another major mistake we see made by shop owners is they put far too much value on the technician’s technical skills, and far too little value on the tech’s natural people talents, and their passion for the position. Unfortunately, these owners don’t understand just how important the people skills component is to an advisor’s success. So here is what I am going to encourage you to consider before you offer one of your technicians a service advisor position.
First of all, when it comes to selling auto repairs and services, bear in mind that natural talent trumps technical skills every time. Talent can’t be taught, but skills can, so if your tech doesn’t naturally smile, doesn’t have a positive attitude, or is not quick-witted and articulate, then they may do a fair job for you, but they will never be the advisor that keeps you ahead of your competitors. You will find there are a number of companies that offer online behavioral assessment testing to evaluate the sales potential of candidates, and I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this type of testing. You will more than likely be surprised with what you discover.
Secondly, you will need to evaluate how well he or she will be accepted in the advisor role by your other employees. If the candidate has a good relationship with your other employees, and if you feel your employees will be willing to take directions and orders from the candidate, then they may very well be a good fit for an advisor position.
The third thing you will need to do is avoid overselling the position to the candidate. In addition to knowing the benefits of the position, they’ll need to know all of the negatives as well. In essence, you want to make sure that there are no surprises. We also encourage all of our clients to get the significant other of the candidate involved in the decision making process. As we say at Elite, “When you hire Larry, you get Mary”, so you will need to ensure that their spouse is also onboard with the new position.
Lastly, I hope you do two other important things if you decide to have one of your technicians take on the role of service advisor. First of all, take them for a test drive by having them help you on the counter, and pay close attention to their people skills, how well they are able to manage their emotions, and how they deal with difficult situations. Secondly, if and when you put that tech on the service counter, remember, training trumps productivity. What that tech will need more than anything is professional sales training, encouragement from you, and the opportunity to become… a superstar.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
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On going battle between my Manager and Tech staff. They like to look up about everything online before doing the work. When a RO says 'Specialty Tool' they think they need the tool to complete the work. For example, a recent 2009 Lincoln MKX had a RF axle seal leak. Pretty common problem. Tech doesn't want to do it without the tool kit. Took kit would cost more than the job.
We all have seen mechanics who can fix and think their way around an obstacle. I've got a shop full of parts hangers. Perhaps the Lincoln is better suited for a drive line shop or dealer but I figure we can figure it out and get it done like we've usually done. I've had Techs make their own tools and solutions and lately the younger guys just give up if they don't have YouTube instructions and specialty tools.
First, The basics Let’s talk diagnostics. Do you follow any kind of diagnostic procedure, or do you just throw darts on a wall, or play “pick-a-part” and hope you fix it before you or the customer runs out of cash. I hope you don’t do that. That might work some of the time, but it’s not a good way to get to the source of problems quickly or accurately. One of the tire shops that I do business with dropped off a 2003 F450 with a 7.3 diesel for me to look at. It’s one of their service trucks that died on the highway. These guys are super, I’ve known them for years, and they’ve got a great reputation and excellent work force. In fact, I buy all my tires there, and they do all my alignments. They try to fix their own trucks “in-house” and sometimes, well……the repair/diagnostics are a little out of their comfort zone. This was one of those times. Now, they don’t try to keep up with the scanning or diagnostics on most cars and trucks. It’s a tire shop that specializes in tires. They stick to what they do best, tires, wheels, and undercarriage stuff. The only “techy” stuff they get into is with the TPM systems. Most generally, when it comes to their vehicles they’ll go with the tried and true…”throw a dart and whatever it hits we’ll change.” Of course they’ll ask around first, but you know, second hand information hardly ever gets the job done these days. They had it at one of their stores in another town for about 3 weeks trying to solve the problem. When that didn’t work they decided to tow it up to another one of their stores, and see if the guys there had a better dart. Another couple of weeks and several darts later, all they had were holes in the wall and no truck running. Then my phone rang. “Can you program a PCM on a F450?” the shop asked. “No, sorry I don’t do those, but I know who does. I’ll call him and see if he can come over and do that for you,” I told them. A day or two went by and the phone rang again. “Hey, this thing still doesn’t start. The guy that programmed it said it sounded like an electrical problem”. Ok, somehow, I’m getting involved now. “Sure, bring it over,” I told them. Well, they towed it over with a strap pulled by an F250 diesel truck. The F250 looked like a toy truck compared to this behemoth. With a push and a shove from the F250 the guys got it lined up and into one of my service bays. The big concern was the IDM relay, it kept chattering like a machine gun. Instead of checking codes I thought it best just to start with a complete wire to wire check to determine if there was some lost signal that was causing the problem, or a wire that was scraped and grounding out. Removing the inner fender on the driver side I could gain access to the Injector module (IDM) and the PCM (Power control module). Seemed easier to start here than any place else. It didn’t take long before I tracked down a problem. On pin #71 of the (new) PCM there should have been 12 volts from the ignition. No voltage at the terminal. Tracing the wiring diagram thru its maze it led back to the in-car fuse box on fuse #22. I grabbed my test light and checked the fuse… (Rolling my eyes about now) the fuse,… oh man… the fuse is blown. Good grief… all this for a blown fuse. Well, I better change the fuse, and see if it starts. Sure enough; it fired right up… sounded great, good throttle response, and no service lights. Now the big challenge, what blew the fuse in the first place? Following the wiring diagram again…. I traced out all the components on the fuse circuit. There was one that caught my eye as the likely culprit. The brake cut-off switch mounted on the master cylinder. (It’s the one that had the big recall a few years ago.) The updated replacement piece was in place but somebody forgot to secure the wires. The replacement piece has a newer style connector and an adapter connector to allow you to attach it to the original style fastener. Which makes it a little longer than it originally was from the factory. It was hard to tell where the new wire and connector started, and the old one ended, because the whole thing was lying on the exhaust manifold, and had melted down to a glob of wire and plastic. Looking around under the hood there were all kinds of new parts installed. The nicest part……they were all installed correctly. There were no other wires out of place, or any signs of scraps or melted wiring. The important thing is that it runs, and the truck can go back to doing what it needs to do. I think the biggest thing that threw everyone on this job was the chattering relay. It sounded bad, sounded expensive… but, all it turned out to be was a loss of proper voltage to the PCM, because a fuse blew from a lead that grounded out. This was due to the improper installation of one small component. The PCM couldn’t spread enough voltage and ground signals to all the necessary systems when it was missing the voltage it needed. As the relay would engage, the voltage drop was too much to keep the relay engaged. The IDM would pull more signal voltage as the relay would come to life. Then the PCM would have to drop the ground signal to the IDM relay to compensate for the loss of voltage. All this was going on very rapidly … on and off, on and off… making the machine gun sound coming from the IDM relay. The guys at the tire store were extremely grateful that I got the job done, so they could use the truck again. For me, it’s another day at the shop. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the guys at the tire shop. Hey they tried, I’ll give them that. But one thing I wish they would do next time --- CHECK THE BASICS—BEFORE BUYING PARTS! It’s cheaper that way…
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By Joe Marconi
Perhaps the worst time to look to hire a technician, is when we lose one. At that point we go into “Crisis Hire” mode. We most often settle for anyone, rather than taking our time to find the right person.
We need to take a lesson from large organizations and sports teams. Their strategy? They continually recruit. I did not say continually hire, I said continually recruit.
You need to be on the look out for the talent in your community. Find where the best of the best are working now. Reach out to these people, get to know them.
Make is part of your overall business plan to stay in touch with trade schools, the military for returning vets, and any other employee agencies. Identify key people in your local auto community and ask questions; where are the best technicians? How can I contact this person? Who knows this superstar tech?
In other words, allocate a significant portion of your time in the area of recruiting. Your goal is to have people in the pipe line. So when you lose an employee you have a list of contacts to reach out to.
In the book “Work Rules”, a book about Google and its employee strategies, the author states that Google follows this rule: “Hiring is the single most important activity in any organization"
By Joe Marconi
One thing I see different with young techs today from years back is the lack of hands-on experience. In my era, mechanics got their start pumping gas, working with their father on the family car and helping friends. By the time you landed a job in a garage, you had the basics under your belt.
I am firm believer in hiring entry level techs, always have been. I contact the trade schools; Lincoln Technical, Universal Technical Institute, etc. I have to tell you, the last few years have been a bit discouraging.
When I look at their resumes I am shocked that they never worked in a repair shop. Oh, they have worked as a camp counselor, at the local deli, at Rite Aid and Apple Bees. But no hands on mechanical work? Some of them never worked on car other than what was required at school.
These schools are pumping out techs by the thousands. Are they all like this, and where are they too?
Our future is dependent on a strong entry level workforce. I think we need to rethink the process. I also think that trade schools should adopt a concept similar to the medical field. Nurses and doctors must go thru mandatory work at hospitals while still in school and then go thru internship programs. You would never put a doctor in an operating room, fresh out of Med School with no hands-on experience. Would you?
By Joe Marconi
I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day. He's a high school math teacher. He asked me if the Hi-Tech cars of today and tomorrow will attract more young people to the automotive trade? I never gave it a thought, but it just might.
What are your thoughts, will technology help to bring more talented people to our industry?