Ask a typical shop owner what the best way to keep techs loyal is, and the most common answer will be “money.” But this isn’t entirely true — it’s been proven wrong countless times in other industries.
What will keep techs loyal to YOU?
1) They want to feel respected by their managers.
2) They want to feel important to the company they work for.
3) They want to feel like their work is meaningful — that it makes life better for somebody.
When you provide ongoing training, you help meet those needs. But shops that ignore their techs and treat them as disposable will find their technician turnover rate is very high, and very costly.
Having check-ins, conversations and promoting good behavior is a great start to have your techs feel respected, valued, important and meaningful. Just as anyone would love positive affirmation, your technicians receiving that from their managers really goes a long way.
Benefits of training techs
By raising the skill level of all your techs, your shop will get more work done, more efficiently, and with fewer cases of misdiagnosis. Your shop is seeing more of a profit, and it overall reduces your stress level, and increases the health of your business.
This will also let you expand your opportunities to capture even more business. For example, some techs don’t feel comfortable with wheel alignments, perhaps because of all the math involved. Train them well, increase the number who can do alignments, and you’ll probably find more legitimate reasons to recommend alignments to your customers. This applies to other types of repair jobs, as well.
In addition, your techs will feel more confident in recommending other work. Leave them at their present skill levels, though, and they won’t let you know about those other potential sales. That’s simply human nature.
Continually training techs will encourage them to keep working for you. Most independent shops don’t provide structured, formal ongoing training. If you do, then you’ll have an advantage in attracting and retaining the best techs in your area. You will also have the future possibility of getting tech referrals since the techs you have are so happy to be working for your shop.
Reducing tech turnover reduces inefficiency, mistakes and lost sales that happen every time you spend time looking for new techs to hire.
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Training costs next to nothing
It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Many shop owners rose from the ranks of skilled technicians, as perhaps you did. So, it can be as simple as sharing your knowledge and experience. Here are some inexpensive (and maybe fun) ways to train your techs.
- Collect online articles that expand on weak areas your techs seem to have. Somebody can’t get air conditioning systems charged to just the right level? Give him three articles to read, then go over the material with all your techs.
- Collect trade journal articles on subjects that seem to come up regularly. Build your tech library for them.
- Realize that some techs learn better by reading or by doing things hands-on, rather than by being lectured. Don’t lecture; lead instead.
- Invite your local trade school teachers to deliver classes to your techs on advanced subjects, maybe once or twice monthly. Pay them their nominal fee.
- Have a weekly “lunch and learn” for your training sessions. Don’t take calls during that hour. Encourage note-taking. Make your techs realize that their skills are valuable to your shop’s financial health.
- Each tech seems to know things the others don’t. Consider having techs take turns sharing their knowledge on their favorite subject with their peers. Everyone wants to feel important at work — it builds morale.
Lose the old-fashioned attitude that if you’re training a tech, it means they’re in trouble or not as good as the others. The more your techs know, the more valuable they’ll be to you, and to your team.
Which subjects should you train in?
When your techs take their ASE tests, use their lower-scoring areas as guidelines on what training they need. Track comeback patterns in your shop. The fewer mistakes that get made, the more profit for you.
Here’s one method: Get an artist’s easel from your local art supply store. Buy a pad of 24-by-24-inch sketching paper for the easel and several colored markers. That’s your visual aid. When the class is done, let your students keep the pages most important to them.
You can even keep the easel set up in your waiting room. When you have a diagnosis to discuss with a customer, draw it out on the sketch paper, then give the customer the page. This one tool can help you build trust and credibility with both your customers and your techs.
Create a Mentor System
As new techs are entering the workforce, have them buddy up with a more senior tech so that they absorb as much knowledge as possible. Creating an employee training program for their professional development, they will start to narrow those skill gaps on certain types of repairs.
If you can provide them reassurance and confidence with on the job training, you will retain your techs. Retaining techs is one of the many key factors in your shop’s bottom line, and establishing a training budget will prove a very fruitful return on investment.
If you are looking for ways to optimize your shop’s performance with retaining techs while gaining new business, consider becoming RepairPal Certified. Repairpal has many partners and programs that can help establish your presence as a top tier shop that will impact your tech’s happiness.