The more modern and friendly we can make our shop operations to attract young people into our vocation, the better off we are,” says Dwayne Haug, principal owner of DOH Consulting.
A shop that you “would be proud to bring your spouse to,” is the way Lew Flowers, president of Flowers Fleet Service, describes it.
Fleet consultants see the condition of the shop as one key component in attracting and retaining technicians. It’s important to remember that fleets are not just competing with each other for techs; they also are competing with other industries that need technicians.
“[Fleets] are going to have to make life more pleasant, more professionally satisfying and make it easier for technicians to do their jobs if they want to keep them around,” says Jack Legler, technical director at the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations.
Making a technician’s job easier means having current technology tools available for him or her to use when maintaining, diagnosing, and repairing. In fact, if a fleet wants to get young people to come to work for it, it better have invested in technology. The younger generation expects to have access to technology in the workplace. This can take the form of scan tools, laptops in the service bays, etc., but also could include things such as service management software that electronically tracks maintenance and repairs in real time. And it means being prepared for new developments on the horizon, such as augmented reality tools that will be coming down the pike soon, if Legler is correct in his assessment of where vehicle repair is headed.
The last piece of the hiring equation is providing professional satisfaction. Bruce Stockton, president of Stockton Solutions, says fleets need to develop career paths for their technicians.
“You have to have step levels of progress, not only from a compensation standpoint, but also from a challenges standpoint.” While there are some technicians who are content to do the same thing day after day, there are others who enjoy being challenged. As Stockton sees it, “A really great technician looks at an electric problem or a software problem as a real challenge and wants to learn from it.”
Stockton contends that even the smallest shop can develop career paths for its employees. A good place to start is to look at the repairs you are outsourcing. Determine what tools you would need to invest in to complete those repairs. Find out about training and educational opportunities you can send your technicians to so they can get the skills they need to successfully complete those repairs. Then slowly start bringing that work in house and allowing your technicians to handle it.
“This investment in your people shows them loyalty and helps them build trust, pride and professionalism.”
A decent place to work, modern technology tools, and a path for professional growth.
There is one overriding theme here, and that is how fleet management views its technicians. Stockton says all too often, technicians are treated like second-rate citizens and are not included in corporate-wide events. Fleet managers need to do a little self-reflection and ask themselves if they see technicians as an integral part of their team, or as a necessary evil.
If you want to keep your trucks on the road tomorrow, invest in your technicians today to make sure they see your shop as the place they want to be.