Why You Can’t Hire Techs

by | Jun 9, 2021 | Auto, Podcasts, Service Drive Revolution

Welcome to Service Drive Revolution! Today’s subject: why you can't hire techs. We also are playing my new favorite bit, ‘Would You Rather?’

But first, Christian had a joke. “How many service managers does it take to screw in a light bulb?” His punchline, “Three. One to unclog the toilet, one to de-program the building alarm, and then the other one to actually do the screwing of the light bulb.”

He’s not wrong, that's so true. I had one too. “Who does the general sales manager call when the sales department's toilet is backed up?” You guess it, the service manager.

Now, on to ‘Would You Rather?’ Christian was excited about this segment, or maybe he’s wasn’t…

Our question: “Would you rather write up a night drop that ends up being a comeback for an advisor that's no longer there or write a 20-line warranty RO on a car that's one day out of warranty, but they made the appointment a week ago?”

In the first scenario, the tech is still there, but the advisor's gone. It’s a Volkswagen Vanagon that the tech left lug nuts loose, and the wheel came off driving on the freeway. It was towed in on the weekend, on Sunday, and it's sitting there on a jack. There's three wheels on it. It's missing the wheel jumped the median. So, it's a night drop, you have to call the customer.

Christian went with the Vanagon since “it's an opportunity as the advisor to become the hero” because you're in a situation where since the previous automotive service advisor’s left, so you get to take over with a fresh start. Christian is looking to make a new friend. He never wrote service for Volkswagen, but he was a manager, so maybe he knows what’s he’s talking about…

Time for questions. If you have a question, it doesn't have to just be about service or parts, it could be anything, marriage advice, whatever. Call (833) 3-ASK-SDR.

“Hey, my name is Kelly. I work in southern Louisiana. My question for you is about working with technicians. I don't want to overstep and make a technician feel like I'm second guessing his diagnosis. He is the technician; he's had the training. But knowing that they either didn't take the time to diagnose it and it seems like we're throwing parts at something or basically saying that a part failed a certain way. By knowledge, doing my own research, or talking to other technicians, I know that's not how that part operates.

I've actually sold a job on a car where he told me the turbo was leaking and needed to be replaced, only to find out that my customer didn't actually have a turbocharged car. So, that was my partly fault too, because I didn't actually go out there and put my eyes on it, being busy in the front. I feel like my customers lose their faith in me and makes me feel like a liar. I don't know how to approach a technician without ruffling some feathers in the shop, or if I need to ruffle feathers, that's fine too. I just try to keep the peace when possible.”

Christian shared an interesting story. When he went from sales back to service, he went back into the shop and really asked them for a show and tell. He fell on his sword and said, “You know what, guys, I'm sorry, I don't know anything about fixing cars, and the more that you help me explain this to someone, the better off I'm going to be able to sell it for you.” But in the meantime, when they're showing you, it's also confirming their diagnosis a little bit too, because they've got to show you what’s broken.

But the whole tech telling Kelly about something is needed that's not even on the car, that's a different scenario. Was the tech messing with her or was that real? What happens in some cases is technicians, who’ve been working on that car for 20 or 30 years, gets an RO with a certain complaint on it, they automatically go to, “Oh, it needs a turbo,” because of the description of the issue. And then they give it back to the advisor saying, “Call him, tell him it's going to need a turbo.” They don't look at the car or anything like that. So, that probably works in 95% of the cases, and they're right because of their experience. But in those 5% of the cases, it's unacceptable to call somebody and tell them that they need a part that they don't own.

In psychology, they call this process versus content. For example, have you ever been in a situation where you're with your significant other and they ask you, “Honey, do I look fat in these jeans?” It seems like a trick question and you automatically say no. So, why did you say no? Because yes is what they don't want to hear. But the truth is maybe different? The truth is the content and maybe the truth is a yes.

The process is where people get messed up. In that situation, oftentimes you're arguing with somebody and you're right in the point that you're making, but they don't like the way you said it, or they don't like the way it makes them feel. And so, the process is the problem, not the content. Does that make sense?

It’s how the information is being exchanged, and how the other person feels about that exchange. Really, it has nothing to do with the actual conversation. In that scenario, you're alluding to they don't really want the truth.

And so, I think when you're dealing with technicians, you got to understand that it's the process, not the content. And so, how you approach the technician, and what you're doing for them. So, say for example, if I go to a technician and I'm like, “Hey, I don't understand that, but I want to make sure that I get you as much time as I can.”

Now, I’ve flipped the process and the content is important. It's all about them. But if they don't appreciate the content and they think I'm just wasting their time, or they have an ego and they're a pain in the ass, then the content doesn't matter. Because they're just fighting to win at that point.

It’s very much in the frame and how you handle the process. Making it to their benefit, and that you're trying to protect them, or trying to save them time. So, say you go to a technician and you say, “Hey, I want to understand this because I don't want to write this wrong,” or “I want to make sure that you get paid under warranty for this,” or those little things I've found, make them open up and they're your best friend.

But if you just come to them and you're like, “Hey, show me that.” Then it's saying, I don't believe you. A lot of them are super insecure and it's like, “Well, why? You don't trust me?” You have to manage the process with technicians often and make them feel like it's to their benefit.

That’s the thing, as an advisor, the technician has to be your biggest fan, in order for the thing to work really, really well. Showing gratitude to technicians is a really, really good way to get little things like this solved.
The thing is, there's maybe more glory in being an advisor sometimes. The techs don't get enough credit. Even though they should get all the credit, they don't. It’s just the way the process is in a service department, because they're in the back. They get blamed for a lot of stuff. And so, it's just the nature of the business that we should be aware of and try to change that.

So, to Kelly I say manage that. Manage their feelings, but get to the point. The turbo situation, that's unethical, and I'd be very clear that it’s unethical and not something that should be allowed. I hope that you don't work for a place where that's okay.

We hear this a lot. “I can't hire techs.” Why can't they hire techs?

Christian and I haven’t run into a situation where we couldn’t hire techs. It's never happened. But the predominant belief in the industry is that they can't hire techs.

This is when Christian's eyebrows shot up. He’s got an expressive face!

Let's talk about why people can't hire techs. The first reason people can't hire techs is because they're saying they can't hire techs. The mindset portion is off. In neuro-linguistic programming that’s called an embedded command. If I'm saying I can't hire techs, then I can't hire techs will become reality. It's the nail in the coffin.

Instead, start saying, “I haven't figured out yet,” or “I'm going to figure out.” You're going to be 100% accurate in that situation, most of the time.

Okay. The next thing in hiring tech that we see is that the job ads are terrible. The ads are written by an HR department. There's something to the effect of, “The job of a technician is to fix cars, and 401k.” Plus, bullet points of everything the tech already knows. It's not appealing. You have to understand that technicians that are good, aren't looking. And so, most of the time, those ads only are replied by technicians that you probably don't want, that are bouncing around. Maybe if you're lucky, somebody relocating, but for the most part, you're not attracting anybody with the ad.

So, you need to know how to write a good ad that attracts the right technician, and it's not your fault that you don’t. It’s like sales copy, which is why in our stuff, we have swipe files of tech ads that work, and we're always collecting them, and testing them. Because everybody isn't good at writing them, but if they have examples, they usually can do it.

The other one is that they delegate it to HR. Which is a task to them. It's not a lifeblood of their business. An HR person doesn’t see the difference between hiring a receptionist and hiring a technician. It's all one ad. So, they don't understand the complexity of the whole thing and it's them just doing one more thing on their list for the day. It's not their fault.

So, if you're going to try and hire techs, you have to do it yourself. I think it's easier to hire just about every other position than techs. Say your average tech produces $144,000 a year in gross. That’s just one hire. Why would you delegate that to anybody? Why wouldn't you be the one selling that and engaging?

The other thing that we see a lot is the placement of the ad. Everybody just automatically puts their ad up on Indeed. Indeed just puts it around your local area, and that's it. And unless somebody's searching specifically for your town, it's not going to come up. And even within, if you don't have certain keywords in there, then it doesn't come up when they're searching. You have to guess what they're going to be typing into the search. Where you run the ads matters a lot.

So, Christian and I were talking, and we're going to do a thing in Facebook, for however long it takes, but I think it'll take about six weeks. We're going to go through how to hire technicians, and anybody in our coaching group can jump on there. We'll fix your ads for you. We'll coach you. We'll teach you how to do it, but we're going to go through the steps of how to recruit techs, because I don't know that there's anything more important to be good at in the next five years than hiring techs. It's going to get harder and harder. We're losing two for every new one coming in to the industry. And so, I think that would be a fun thing to do weekly, where we just get on Facebook Live and we go through, “Hey, this week, we're going to talk about the ads. This week we're going to talk about placement,” that sort of thing.

Christian says it's like an accelerated masterclass for automotive service managers. So, watch out for that!

We have a final little nugget from Christian. “Let's say that I'm a technician and I've been at my shop for 10 years and, all of a sudden, my shop is starting to get slow. My hours keep going down every week. When am I at the most vulnerable to look somewhere else for a job?” When my hours are going down, and more specifically on payday. So, when I think about when I want to place my ads, I want to do it Friday at 3:30pm. Because when they get home at 5:00pm, and they're like, “I can't take another paycheck like this,” your name magically appears.

He’s got something genius there, folks. I like it. So, it’s timing.

That was a fun show, you guys.

Remember, if you have any questions, (833) 3-ASK-SDR. For special deals on our books and training, head over to offers.chriscollinsinc.com. I'm Chris Collins, and I'll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!