Trouble in tire technician town?

Trouble in tire technician town?

There’s no simple solution to the technician shortage, but tire dealers have the tools to calm the waters surrounding the issue.

In the past three months, more than once I’ve had an interview scheduled with a tire dealer who had to cancel at the last minute because his shop was too busy and he didn’t have enough help. One of those told me he recently left retirement to start busting tires again because he couldn’t find a solid technician to hire.

I’m not sure if it should be comforting or disheartening that the technician shortage still stands among the industry’s greatest obstacles heading into yet another year, but here we are. Even those who we’d consider to be the most successful tire dealers grapple with this issue on a daily basis.

I don’t have the silver bullet, but I can provide the best advice I have learned from the best of you.

Step one, focus on retainment. Don’t worry about getting anyone new through the door until you’ve proven to your technicians that you have their back. In this regard, caring isn’t the hard part. Every tire dealer I’ve ever met cares about his or her employees. The tough part is showing them that you care and making it supremely obvious.

Best-One of Indy and VIP Tires & Service are two tire businesses doing a great job here. Both of them conduct company-wide annual surveys to learn from their employees what their respective businesses need to improve.

I love this idea. First, it allows you to show that you’re taking an active interest in the lives of your employees and that you genuinely care about their well-being. Second and more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to show that you aren’t all talk. There’s no greater way to show you care than to act on what is ailing your staff.

“No question, the best ideas that we’ve made over the last eight to 10 years have come directly out of that process,” says John Quirk, executive chairman of VIP Tires & Service. “We send the survey out blind, it’s truly anonymous, and then we meet with every employee in the company and we just talk about the business. You’d be amazed what we get out of it.”

The technician community is a proud one. Techs talk to each other, and if you go out of your way to take care of your staff, I promise you the word will get out. Recruitment still won’t be automatic, but I guarantee it will be a heck of a lot easier – and with your focus on retainment, hopefully, you won’t run into your staffing troubles nearly as often.

Step two is to focus on recruitment, and one of the best ways to attract top talent is to offer the most attractive pay package possible in your area (excuse me while I pat myself on the back for just single-handedly solving the tech shortage).

Easier said than done, but great tire dealers are out there as we speak digging out the coins from their couch cushions with the goal of increasing what they can pay their techs.

Don Foshay’s Discount Tire & Alignment in Maine came up with a great idea to shift the way its technicians are paid with a plan called “Project 15.” The goal was to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The team studied every line item of revenue to find out where they could save or find opportunities they were missing to make more money–whether that be what’s not being asked at the counter or if they’re not suggesting certain services for customers. In many ways, it not only resulted in higher-paid techs but also improved the customer experience.

There’s no simple solution to the technician shortage, but tire dealers can calm the waters with a solid commitment to their current workforce and a competitive pay strategy.

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