“Each month we add new questions and modify questions that might be a little shaky,” says Radcliff. “We draw a report on the most commonly missed questions, and then look carefully at the question to make sure it’s not worded poorly, or change our training based on what testing shows us is a commonly unknown answer.”
Hosting online teaching and testing can also be a selling point for dealers who fear technicians attending update schools will be approached by other dealers in search of a qualified tech.
“Dealers are sending as few people as possible, and many times they themselves are the ones that are certified,” says Mack. “They fear that their technicians are going to move around from dealer to dealer, and the dealer wants to keep that certification. The problem is that the dealer isn’t always the one working on the machine. Dealers as well as technicians need to see the value in the certification.”
Despite their fears, it is important that dealers understand the importance of keeping their technicians certified and treating them as lifelong learners of the trade. The dealer push for certification is a great help to the industry’s overall efforts.
Attracting and retaining younger technicians
For dealers, attracting the right technicians and keeping them can make or break the service department. What attracts technicians to a dealership is changing as the tech pool ages. Dealers are also getting better at recognizing what it is that technicians are looking for in an employer—and how to provide it.
“Dealers have changed and become professional businessmen who know how to hire the right guy and provide the right benefits and pay,” explains Roche. “The technician’s benefit is that he is going to be working for a more professional boss who is going to know what he needs. Why would a technician go to a dealership? It has to have something he needs.”
Technicians are looking for many of the same things they always have: insurance, a 401K, good pay and all the other things that add to their quality of life. But as the age of technicians changes, so do their needs and desires.
“As we move through the generations, the dealers who are progressive understand what is meaningful to the technician that may not be meaningful to the owner,” says Radcliff. “It could be vacation time, health care or any number of things. Some younger employees would value vacation time more than an additional 25 cents an hour.”
These benefits are a great way to attract techs, but some dealers are having trouble meeting these desires as sales have slowed for most.
“Dealers are stuck right now. It is difficult for the dealer to charge more so he can pay better in the service department because he has competition too,” says Mack. “Until the industry picks up, they can’t charge more and get away with it.”
Being progressive as dealers and flexible about compensation will help dealers greatly in the pursuit of the right tech for their shop. Additionally, technicians also want to be in an environment that provides ongoing education and a culture that encourages input. Having a technician who is more vested in the dealership’s success is to the dealer’s benefit.
“Those technicians who are now coming out of the schools are feeling like they are trained professionals—and they want to be viewed that way,” says Roche. “As that permeates we are seeing dealerships improve as well. Technicians and dealerships are together becoming more professional and efficient in the way they do things.”