If I Could Just Find a Few Technicians
Techs, Like Snowflakes, Are Unique
Every day I hear someone say, “If I could just find a few technicians.” The techs from today are not the same from yesterday. Jane Doe and Joe Q. Employee are not
from your grandpa’s generation. They are a new breed of employee that is taking the motorcycle world and turning it upside down. So, when you say “If I could just find a few technicians,” note your problem is far more complex thanyou realize or might care to admit.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), themedian annual salary for a moto mechanic/technician in2017 was around $39,550 per year. The hourly rate ranged from between $10.75 to $27.09 and on average was $19.02 per hour. The employment outlook for the position showed 6% growth anticipated from 2016-2026 — which is about as fast as the national employment average. So why does it seem like we can never find good techs in this business?
More importantly, what do these numbers mean for potential employers, current employers, job seekers and current motorcycle technicians? First, for potential job seekers, it means qualified applicants should have a lot of opportunity. That’s good news for them.
However, it is NOT so good news for employers. It means they will be competing with other potential employers for quality employees. It also means employers should be trying to figure out how to KEEP those employees they already have! It costs on average $4,000 to hire a new employee (and that doesn’t even include training time), as well as an average of 52 days to fill a position, and mechanic positions
can take much longer depending on the skill level. Every time a technician leaves a company, it costs not only moneyto retrain, but also creates a potential backlog of work that could put your shop almost two months behind (and that assumes a new hire is up to speed and fully capable/ experienced at the start).
As an employer, it’s difficult to know what to do in order to obtain and retain employees. But here’s the bottom line: how you treat your employees will make all the difference in the world!
Let’s talk about training your current techs and grooming them to be “A” level techs. If you don’t have enough “B” level guys now, imagine where you’ll be if or when a few more decide to leave? Today’s Joe Q. Employee wants to be respected, needs a work-life balance, desires a flexible schedule, wants recognition for good work, and doesn’t care only about making money but also about psychological wellness and working with a purpose.
Wait… What? Does an employee need more than a paycheck? You bet they do. And here’s the rub that employers need to understand: Joe Q. Employee is willing to leave any job that doesn’t fulfill his wish list completely. And guess what? Joe also wants a solid paycheck — one that doesn’t feel like he’s in a constant state of “feast or famine.” He wants stability in all aspects: financial, mental and physical.
The Washington Post recently wrote an interesting article based on a survey conducted by Mental Health America and the Faas Foundation. That article said 71% of the people surveyed were looking to change employers. WHAT! 71%? That’s crazy. But you want to know what’s even more shocking? The REASON so many people cited they were looking to leave: a lack of recognition. So you see, simplycutting a paycheck isn’t going to cut it anymore. You need to provide so much more.
Some of you just said “damn snowflakes” under your breath, didn’t you? When employers go looking for a master “A” Level tech who is certified in BMW, Ducati and can do a job in 2/3 of the billable time, then it’s like looking for a snowflake with a specific pattern. If that tech is perfectly happy because his current employer cares about him and treats him well, it makes it that much harder to find your next snowflake.
This is the exact reason recruiters are charging over $10,000 to find a motorcycle mechanic. They are that hard to find. Joe Employee needs to be satisfied with what he’s getting from an employer. And we’re not talking about only what he’s getting in the form of cash in the bank, but how he FEELS about the work he does and whether that work is proving him with what he needs as a human being.
Frightening? As an employer, you need to be able to recognize what your employees need and provide it. So, if Joe Employee wants recognition, you’d better give it to him!If you don’t, Joe’s gonna head over to that other motorcycleshop who DOES provide him with what he needs. And Joe won’t feel bad about it at all, even if there’s a slight payreduction.
Here are some things you can do to provide purpose toyour employees:
• Show recognition
• Express gratitude
• Share success stories
• Help employees understand how they impact the company and customers
• Provide flexibility regarding scheduling
• Don’t keep employees in the dark aboutchanges and ask for their input
• Pay employees what they’re worth
• Promote work-life balance
• Help employees find and work on their strengths
• Improve the company culture (define or refine one)• Listen to your employees
• Respect one another
• Provide a reasonable, fair pay
• Money: it’s not ALL that matters!
Employers need to be proactive and ensure their work environment is providing what employees need, or surely some other employer will… and then who’s going to be left to service customers? The replacement employee who doesn’t know much about motorcycles and just cost you $4,000 to hire, $10,000 worth of equipment and training, and then there’s the 52 days of backlog getting him up to speed. Guess what the replacement employee wants? Respect, gratitude, a flexible schedule and a reasonablepaycheck. You see where this is going? If you don’t start making changes now, your shop could bein an endless state of flux… and you’ll suffer. Joe Q. Employee and his replacement won’t suffer at all, because they’ve got plenty of options in this market. Remember you need them, they don’t need you. If you need to be reminded of that. Lets just talk about the estimated 24,000+ technicians that have left or retired the workforce in the last 4 years. If thatdoesn’t make you realize there is a tech shortage, there arecurrently 47,823 jobs available for technicians. Lastly is the economy. I hear that the service department is where the dealers are making the most profit. It only makes sense to take care of your mechanics, because like every snowflakefalling from the sky, good techs are unique. I’ll leave youwith my favorite quote. “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” ~ Sir Richard Branson