It’s no secret that it’s more difficult to find automotive technicians than ever before. Not only are less bright-eyed technicians entering the workforce in the 21st century, but decades of mistreatment and underappreciation have created a jaded and discouraged talent pool. Technicians that once loved their jobs have come to despise the profession, and we’re faced with what is often referred to as the automotive technician shortage.
But even though it can feel impossible at times, hiring quality technicians isn’t a lost cause. You just have to know where to find them, how to identify the top talent, and of course how to retain them once you have them in your shop. If you follow this guide step-by-step, you’ll have a much more strategic and effective approach to automotive technician recruiting moving forward.
Table of Contents
- Evaluate Your Pay Plan
- Update Your Technology
- 37 Places To Help You Find Quality Automotive Technicians
- How To Identify A High-Quality Technician
- 10 Interview Questions To Ask When Hiring A Technician
- Recap: Hiring Quality Automotive Technicians
Evaluate Your Pay Plan
Before you can start pulling in quality auto technician applicants, you want to do everything you can to ensure that you’re providing an appealing work environment. If you want to know how to hire good automotive technicians, start with evaluating your pay plan. Nothing scares off a prospect like a vague sliding scale or wide range of pay that doesn’t offer a clear income projection. Like any other potential employee, technicians want to know how much money they can expect to make in a week, month, and year. A standard pay plan based on billable hours is never a bad bet. Set the minimum requirement at something that is achievable, like 40 hours in a 40-hour work week. But you can always offer incentives to drive performance, like increasing the hourly rate for those who are able to log 45 hours in a 40 hour week.
There are pros and cons to flat-rate pay and hourly pay, and you just have to make a judgment call according to your priorities. A flat rate system can increase motivation to upsell so more jobs come into the shop, but it may also result in techs rushing through their work. And while hourly pay may increase the quality of work, overall it may decrease incentives for your techs and create a lack of motivation in your shop culture. Different pay plans work better in different situations, and it’s all about finding the right fit for your situation. It’s likely that pay plans may change over time, and that’s okay, but there should never be any ambiguity. And those changes should be few and far between. Think about it from their perspective: if your boss was constantly changing how you were paid, you’d start to lose trust in the business. Do your best to offer a transparent, consistent pay plan for all of your automotive technicians.
Update Your Technology
When you’re strategizing about how to recruit good automotive technicians, think about what you have to offer. Another lucrative feature of any dealership or shop is an array of updated technology. If you can pay for new diagnostic and shop equipment, you’re going to attract quality technicians a lot easier. And this is about more than just offering online booking for appointments. You should invest in updated OBD diagnostic software and interfaces to speed up the repair process. Different diagnostic options have different key features, but they all help automotive technicians work quicker and more efficiently. It would also be wise to look into mobile phone apps to offer the techs in your shop. As the saying goes, there’s an app for that, and the world of auto repair is no exception. Technicians can use apps to find details about parts, access reference guides from the manufacturer, and more.
An app called AutoCodes, for example, contains over 60,000 OBD2 code descriptions for the vast majority of makes and models. Another app called RepairBuddy offers detailed auto assembly diagrams on an interactive display to help streamline the process. It also contains a library of color-coded wiring diagrams, as well as a collection of video instructions to guide technicians through complex repairs. These technological tools aren’t just about making technicians’ lives easier, they’re about making every repair of the day more efficient. More repairs equals more profit to your bottom line, so it’s important to think of investing in technology as investing in the future profitability of your business. It’s a win-win situation.
37 Places To Help You Find Quality Automotive Technicians
Once you’ve evaluated your pay plan, updated your technological offerings, and done whatever you can to create a lucrative dealership, you can start recruiting high-quality automotive technicians. There are tons of resources, both online and in-person, to utilize in your recruitment search. While it may be difficult to cross every single one off of your list, it would be wise to get to as many of them as possible.
Website Jobs Page
When you’re trying to hire an automotive technician, it’s essential to start things off by creating your tech job postings in the “About Us” or “Careers” section of your business website. Create a high-quality job description to post here. Make it detailed and energetic, highlighting all of the things that make your dealership special. You can repurpose this description for career sites later on. What’s most important is that these listings are fairly easy to find. Make sure to structure your website in a way that techs seeking out opportunities can quickly find this section. Including these job postings on your website is also essential for the Google for Jobs algorithm, a crucial factor in the visibility of your tech hiring ad.
Google for Jobs
Most people have likely encountered Google for Jobs without realizing it. When a prospective technician searches for jobs, they might type something like “automotive technician jobs Chicago” into Google. This search triggers Google for Jobs, creating a native Google widget as seen below:
When a user clicks “100+ more jobs,” at the bottom of the preview window, they’re taken into Google for Jobs. This tool works by aggregating job postings from popular job boards like Linkedin and Indeed. To fully utilize this Google integration, you’ll want to post your job listing on as many different sites as possible. All of those individual postings will use the technician hiring ad on your website as their original source material. When you click on one of these individual job postings in Google for Jobs, you’ll notice that to apply, Google still directs prospective employees to apply on sites like Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter. But it’s important to think about user experience in this instance. Technicians are going to search google first, and you want to make your postings as easily viewable as possible. All of these individual postings are like the menu items at a restaurant, and Google for Jobs does the work of serving them up to your prospects.
Mainstream Job Boards
As previously mentioned, there are quite a few job posting websites to use when trying to get your hiring ad out there. All of these sites make it fairly easy to create job postings, so take advantage of the quantity of options available. You’ll need to create a profile on each site if you don’t have one already, but then creating the actual job post should be fairly straightforward. You can repurpose the job description you used for your website ad.
Here are 10 different job websites to look into:
Automotive Industry Job Boards
You’ll also want to create job postings on all of the specialized automotive job sites you can find. While the general job sites are important, it’s also extremely beneficial to go straight to the source. If you peruse the different job offerings on these sites, you’ll notice that they’re more detailed and industry-specific. Feel free to tailor the job description to this kind of experience, providing more details where needed.
Here are 10 job boards that are specifically targeted at the automotive industry:
- Automotive News: jobs.autonews.com
- Auto Technician: autotechnician.org/classifieds
- AUTO Jobs: AUTOjobs.com
- Technician and Mechanic: Technicianandmechanicjobs.com
- Auto Service Jobs: AutoServiceJobs.com
- Auto Job Central: Autojobcentral.com
- Need Techs: NeedTechs.com
- Fleet Jobs: FleetJobs.com
- Auto Care: Jobs.autocare.org
- Automotive Service Association: careers.asashop.org
These sites may show less results than some of the mainstream job boards, but they provide a much more specific, targeted approach. Hitting both the specialized and broad job boards gives you a multi-faceted strategy and opens as many doors as possible.
Another great resource for automotive technician recruiting is a website called Wrenchway. This service serves as an intermediary between auto shops, schools, and technicians. Shops can connect with schools to set up recruiting pipelines, schools can connect with industry professionals to build relationships and develop resources, and technicians can use the site to find work and engage in conversations with other folks in the industry. Wrenchway is also unique in that they use a feature called Reverse Job Posts. With the alternative method, technicians can create a profile and let employers come to them. Similar to the freelancer job portals like UpWork and Fiverr, employers have the power to hand-pick applicants. Wrenchway has quickly become both an invaluable forum for discussion about the present and future of the automotive industry, and a unique job board specifically designed for technicians.
Social Media Pages
Another valuable tool that you’ll always want to utilize is social media. While these sites aren’t specifically designed for job postings, many businesses will use them for job openings regardless. Service managers, fixed ops directors, and general managers frequently make hiring posts on Linkedin especially to use their individual networks as resources. But even just sharing your hiring ads on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram will broaden your reach. In video platforms like YouTube and TikTok, you can easily make hirings ads in video form to showcase your businesses and broadcast your need for help. And with message board communities like Reddit and Discord, you can find specific threads and groups dedicated to automotive jobs. Some good reddit threads include: r/MechanicAdvice, r/Automotive, and r/AutomotiveLearning.
Here are 8 social media platforms and message boards to consider posting your jobs to:
You should also make sure that you have a Facebook Business account set up for your dealership. With a Business account, you can post job openings natively on Facebook instead of just sharing posts from other sites. To find the Jobs section, click the “More” section on the dropdown navigation bar and you’ll find “Jobs.” Then you can choose “Create a Job” to manually create your hiring ad. A prospect would have to go to your business’ profile directly to see this ad, but it increases your reach regardless. More visibility always equals more candidates.
Social Media and Google Ads
In addition to organic social promotion, you can also utilize paid promotion on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google to get job prospects on your radar. Getting a grasp on how to use these digital ads can prove challenging at first, but like anything else it gets easier with practice. You can play around with the targeting of the advertisements to find different kinds of candidates. There’s tons of different targeting criteria that can be manipulated to get different results. You can target by demographic, income level, location, interests, work title, and behaviors. You can also target ads at people who specifically visit your website or social media channels. That specific kind of retargeting can be set up to work on autopilot. That means that every time someone visits your website, they’ll then get served an ad for whatever it is you’re advertising. On top of that, you can create what are called “lookalike audiences.” These audiences are people who don’t follow your business, but share many similar interests with those of the people who do. Your success with digital advertising is a reflection of how much time you spend figuring it out. The more variations on targeting you try, the more you’ll learn about what works best.
Facebook and Linkedin Groups
Another somewhat forgotten-about resource are Facebook LinkedIn Groups. There are thousands of Facebook and Linkedin groups online, all dedicated to specific niches. There are groups for service managers, service advisors, shop managers, and even technicians. Do your best to join these groups and scout for talent. Some groups will be open to job postings, while some may require that you handle all kinds of business promotion via direct message. Regardless, this method is a great way to put your ear to the ground. Unlike more traditional job searching platforms, Facebook allows back-and-forth communication with job prospects, which can be an invaluable tool.
Local Community Colleges and High Schools
It would be an oversight to not also mention the best solution for hiring automotive technicians: growing your own. Many successful dealerships have a connection to local high schools, community colleges, and trade schools. Through this connection, dealerships can bring in younglings to show them around the shop and give them a sense of what it’s like to work in the industry. If done with care and attention, these visits can be an incredibly fruitful business practice. When these aspiring technicians finish high school, you can bring them in as apprentice techs and have them shadow your seasoned veterans until they’re ready to take on simple repairs themselves.
Network and Employee Referrals
Whether you use social media or not, it’s always wise to use your network of automotive professionals to find top talent. Put out feelers to other dealerships in your area to hear if they know of any super-qualified technicians that may be available for work. You may also want to have all of the employees at your dealership share your job postings on their social media accounts. Chances are some of their friends would be great candidates for your technician openings. You can encourage your employees to refer others by offering some kind of employee referral incentive program. Whether the prize is PTO hours, a gift card, or an iPad, sweetening the pot with a giveaway will absolutely help move the needle.
There’s nothing wrong with going the old-school route too. Creating physical hiring ads for your automotive technician jobs is another tool in your toolbox to help you get as many applicants as possible. Create a simple one-page flyer and print a few hundred of them. They’re ideal to pass out at career fairs and events, especially at local schools and community centers. You may want to consider hosting some kind of event at the dealership as well, where you cater food and hire a live music act. Anything to get some fresh talent in the door is a good idea, and hosting a cool event speaks the culture at the dealership in a big way. These kinds of events are perfect opportunities to hand out stacks of these print ads. It also doesn’t hurt to post them up around town on community boards at coffee shops, libraries, and other businesses that prospective employees might frequent.
How To Identify A High-Quality Technician
Now that you’ve posted your hiring ads in as many places as possible, you should have a diverse group of applicants to review. In our industry there are all different kinds of technicians with different skill levels and abilities. Master techs, B techs, C techs, diesel techs, lube techs…the list goes on and on. But in my years I’ve seen that there are a handful of qualities all the best technicians possess. If you can spot a top technician right away, you’ll save you quite a bit of time and money. I know finding good candidates can be a challenge at times, but an easy fix is never the right call. Make sure you know what you’re looking for right out of the gate.
Characteristic 1: Organization
The best technicians keep everything organized and clean at all times. They’re intentional with how their space is laid out. The tools they use most often are stationed within arms reach. Every tool has a designated slot where it always can be found. There’s never any ambiguity about where something might be. This kind of tech always goes above and beyond to make sure their work station is designed for performance.
Characteristic 2: Consistent Systems
Right when they grab an R.O., a technician should follow the exact same process every day of the week. They know how to get a repair done step-by-step to ensure that they minimize any potential comebacks. With a consistent system in place, every repair gets done right the first time. There’s no room for error if the process is airtight. And that way if something does go wrong, all parties can rest assured that a mechanical issue is at play.
Characteristic 3: Self-Education
The best technicians in the business are not just smart, they also do their best to stay up-to-date on new and emerging trends in the industry. They seek out news in the auto industry and new developments in technology that can help them work more efficiently. A big part of that trait is a desire to continually build up their toolbox with the newest technology. We’re constantly seeing new gadgets and improved tools and to not acknowledge them is a wasted opportunity.
Characteristic 4: Taking Pride
The best technicians don’t have many comebacks, but when those issues do come up, they know how to handle them. A high-quality technician takes pride in what they do, and they genuinely hate to see a customer come back in. They apologize for the inconvenience, take complete ownership of the mistake, and get working on a solution to the issue right away. There’s no deflection, no blaming others. They’re responsible, and they’re dedicated to making it right.
Characteristic 5: Genuine Curiosity
Lastly, the best technicians are interested in how they can improve. They’re on the lookout for new strategies and processes to help them get a leg up. They know the book cover-to-cover, but they’re always trying to see if they can beat it. They want to work smarter, not harder. And if they’re following new trends and emerging technologies, they tend to also possess this spirit of curiosity and ingenuity. There are always incremental ways to improve every day, and the best technicians in our industry are addicted to getting that slight edge.
10 Interview Questions To Ask When Hiring A Technician
Based on the above qualities, there are a number of questions you can ask in an automotive technician interview to get a better understanding of their value to your business. You’ll want to cover the five areas discussed above in detail, but you also want to get a sense of their past job experiences. How have they handled tricky situations or comebacks in the past? How were they treated by past employers and how has that affected what they look for in an employer now? Gathering this kind of information helps you get a pulse on what they want from you to feel respected and valued in your store.
1. How do you organize your stall?
2. How important is cleanliness to you?
3. What’s your process when you work on a RO?
4. What’s going on in the automotive industry that excites you?
5. What’s going on in the automotive industry that worries you?
6. What’s a new tool you’re excited about?
7. How have you handled a comeback in the past?
8. What’s an improvement you’ve made to your process recently?
9. How do you ensure that you do the repair right every time?
10. What do you value most in an employer?
Recap: Hiring Quality Automotive Technicians
The questions listed above should serve as a good primer, but you should always expand upon them and ask specific questions pertaining to your market and shop. There’s no such thing as too many interview questions…the more you ask, the better. Creating a robust interview process will only benefit your business in the long run. Do your due diligence and set yourself up for success. If you really get the word out there by utilizing as many hiring outlets as possible, and take the time to find qualified candidates, you’ll be able to staff your shop with the best in the business. But remember, once you’ve attracted top talent it’s up to you to retain them. If you do all the work to bring in top talent, but then don’t show them how much you value them, they’ll slip through your fingers. Keeping pay plans consistent and transparent, as well as offering up-to-date technology and facilities, will help your automotive technician retention more than anything else.