Posted to Shop Management Forum on 1/25/2014
Finding A-level Technicians
Sorry folks, this may be another of those dangerous posts
where I throw out what's been rattling around in my head. I
was looking at the classified forum today and seeing
everybodys "A-level tech wanted" "ASE Cert. tech wanted"
"must be able to do all repairs" and even an ad for a
service writer who can do repairs, or a service writer who
knows HTML programming. These ads are from all over the
country. So, I came to a couple of conclusions.
1. Lack of A-Level or Master techs is not a local problem,
it's industry wide.
2. Most businesses don't seem to know what they really want
so they look for a guy who can do everything
Now, it seems to me that if we just keep posting the same
ads all over the place with the same "we're a busy shop, pay
depends on experience" it's probably not going to get any
better results than what we have gotten in the past. I
responded to roughly the same ads when I was turning
wrenches 15 years ago.
Is it even realistic to find somebody who can be everything
to everybody in an independent all makes/all models
environment? I'm sure there are some out there, but they are
few and far between.
Maybe, before we go off looking for that one guy who can be
our go to guy and save us from ourselves, we should take an
honest look at what our business is and what do we need.
Step one - honestly evaluate where you are in the market -
are you at the upper end competing with dealerships and
specialty shops? are you at the bottom competing with
craig's list? or are you somewhere in between. Where you are
is going to determine what type of cars and customers you
will be dealing with.
Step two - honestly evaluate what you need. Do you need a
guy to do 40 hours of VW driveability work a week? Do you
need a guy who can primarily do brake jobs with an
occasional check engine light?
Step three - Can you pay competitively? If you can't, don't
make promises to people you can't keep.
Step four - Think about what your vision for the company is
and what your future plans are. Don't hire for what is in
the parking lot today, hire for what you want to be in the
parking lot tomorrow. For example, after you evaluated your
market position and needs, you've decided that you want to
take the car in the direction of a VW specialty shop. You
are no longer looking for an all makes/all models/do
everything A-Tech, you are now looking for a VW tech who can
work on some other things during the transition. Advertise
accordingly. Maybe you've decided that you just can't afford
that super tech and it makes more sense for you to focus on
the jobs that you can do and let somebody else do the other
Maybe what you really need is to re-evaluate the way that
you are doing business in general. If the cars are not
getting fixed quickly because your techs are busy running to
the parts store, maybe you need to hire a parts runner, not
A highly skilled, highly qualified A-level technician is
probably going to be the most expensive employee that you
hire. You may have to hire three or four of them before you
find one that really is what he says he is. Finding this guy
is going to be a time-consuming and expensive search because
there are very few true master techs out there. Before you
go through that, it might be a good idea to see if there is
another way to do things, or if you really need that guy.
I look at this industry - between what I read here, people I
talk to, and my own experiences as a tech/service
writer/service manager and I believe that the single biggest
problem we have is poor management and poor training in
general. Too long we've stuck with the outdated idea of "If
you build it, they will come." and an idea that you just
hire that "do everything" guy and everything will work out.
Maybe it's time to adjust to the idea that the "do
everything" guy just doesn't exist anymore and we need to
properly organize a shop to effectively use the skills of
the people that do exist. Think about the construction
industry --- in general they no longer have the craftsman
who handles the entire construction of a house, they call in
various specialists to do specialized tasks.
Sorry for the length and the ramble.
Nathan from Colorado
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