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Tackling Technician Turnover

Article Highlights:

  • The key to retaining technicians is investing in them.
  • When you value your techs, they value you.

Recently, I sat down with Tim Whalen, service manager at Voss Chevrolet in Dayton, Ohio for a Connected episode. We had a great conversation about his philosophy for retaining technicians in an industry where turnover is a pressing issue. Tim has only lost two techs in the last five years, and he shared his insight on tackling technician turnover.

 

Training Standards

Something Tim’s father taught him, that he now tells his techs, is “you should want to be the best at any job you are doing.”  To be “the best” tech means a lot of active training is needed to reach the top of the mountain. To bring this to life, Tim has an apprenticeship program all new techs are required to go through. The program is designed to develop technicians’ desire to continuously train.

Another staple for technicians at Voss Chevrolet is the “learn and do” method.  They experience eight weeks in a training course, then eight weeks coming to work for the dealership practicing what they just learned. Tim found when techs can immediately implement what they were taught, the training sticks with them permanently.

 

Selective Hiring

When looking for technicians to hire, Tim always looks for these three things: attitude, aptitude, and work ethic. Someone with the right attitude acts like a sponge, absorbing everything put in front of them. And with a heavy emphasis on training at Voss, this is crucial to be successful. When it comes to work ethic, Tim has four GM World Class Technicians. When I asked how he kept his techs so motivated, he went on to say the key was instilling professionalism in them. If you are professional, you’re always at the top of your game and always trying to become better.

 

Tools

A flat rate technician will have thousands of dollars tied up in tools. Technicians just starting out may not be able to make that investment. To help them out, Voss Chevrolet offers the specialized tools needed when working. It’s a simple check-out and return system. Techs come in and check out the tools they need for the day and give them back before they leave.

It doesn’t stop at just suppling the tools though, Tim and his team try to advise new masters-in-training on how to approach tool buying. They give their techs a list of all the tools they need starting out – this way they don’t get caught up in the glamour of tool boxes. They’re also told many ex-technicians sell their tools on Facebook Marketplace as a cheaper option. With this guidance, the new techs can avoid unnecessary costs.

 

So what can you learn from Tim?

Tim’s advice is to focus on the following questions: Are you giving everybody opportunities to succeed? Are you valuing your employees? Are you giving them an environment they feel good about coming into work every day?

When you can say “yes” to those questions, you will have created a culture people enjoy and ultimately don’t want to leave. Check out Tim’s full episode here or on your favorite streaming platform.

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Brand Marketing, Vice President, Reynolds and Reynolds

Greg Uland is the vice president of brand marketing for Reynolds and Reynolds. He is responsible for customer communications and understanding and defining Reynolds unique position in the automotive retailing market. During his career with Reynolds, he has established a background in fixed operations, sales, and dealership marketing.

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