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Richard Holland

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Why Employee Retention in Service Is More Important Than Ever

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A recent Automotive News article covered the decrease in trained automotive service technicians graduating from vocational schools. Not only are the vocational schools producing fewer graduates in the automotive repair field, but the training they receive is dated. Many vocational schools cannot afford the high tech equipment that today’s modern vehicles demand. This results in students that are ill equipped to smoothly transition from school to a career as a technician.  Additionally, according to the article, some OEM training programs also “aren’t providing enough updated, hands-on training.”

On the flip side, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting an increase of 9 percent in the automotive repair sector from 2012 to 2022. Given that demand is expected to increase and, at the same time, schools are producing less qualified students, dealerships need to start thinking about steps they can take to ensure retention of the trained technicians they DO have.

In many fields where a shortage of workers exists, businesses find that they are forced to either lure workers away from competitors, or hire less qualified employees. In many stores, the service department accounts for a majority of the dealership’s revenue. The last thing any dealership needs is to open itself up to is increased liability for poorly completed repairs or dissatisfied customers due to long wait times or repairs not fixed right the first time.

Here are a few things that can be done to improve employee retention:

  1. Ensure that employees know what you expect from them. Many employers don’t adequately explain the tasks and productivity expected.
  2. Ensure and demand that managers are involved with all employees. Hold regular meetings with them individually and as a group to gain feedback and hear grievances.
  3. While many dealers say that they have an “open door policy,” not all employees will feel comfortable sharing feedback with their direct supervisors. If possible, provide a neutral third party which employees can communicate with anonymously to express concerns.
  4. Make continuous training and development a priority. It is paramount to ensure that employees stay up-to-date with rapidly changing and increasingly complex automotive technology. Staff development also illustrates to your employees that you value them and want them to improve.
  5. Incentivize employees through spiffs and contests. This provides a goal for employees and helps to keep them engaged, while increasing production. This applies to both sales and service personnel.
  6. When management positions become available, make sure to look internally for potential candidates before seeking a new employee. Otherwise you could run the risk that an excellent employee leaves due to feeling that your dealership will not provide advancement opportunities for them.

The need for experienced technicians is only going to increase while the pool of available workers decreases. Keeping your current employees happy is much less expensive than replacing them. Especially when there isn’t anybody to replace them with.

Don’t get left empty-handed in your service drive. 

Ali Salman
Dealerships have never calculated how much it actually costs them when an employee leaves them. High staff turnover actually hinders the business growth.

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