Yes, there’s a technician shortage. Yes, there’s been a technician shortage for a long time. We’ve talked about it for years, and quite frankly, nothing has changed. I tell my clients every day (it seems) that the only thing you can do is always be looking. “But, what about my existing people, won’t they be upset when they see the advertisement?”. Yes, they probably will…but why were they looking? The truth is, we all look. We all wonder if the grass is greener. Keep them happy and they won’t go anywhere. Keep them happy and business will grow….and you’ll need more technicians. It’s not personal…and nothing against your current employees…it’s just business. Good people, heck, great people, come and go all of the time. Be prepared and find someone before you need them. Worst case, you’ll find someone whom you don’t have the room for…but at least you know they exist! Keep in touch. Send them a fruit cake on New Years (okay, maybe not a fruit cake, but you know what I mean). Some say send something on New Year’s and their birthday…the two times we tend to reflect on the current state of our lives. Best case, you like each other and they find themselves looking 6 weeks after you spoke with them. I watched it happen recently! Update your want ads, keep looking, and you’ll survive just fine.
Here’s the other question I answered this morning: “Do I invest 6 months of energy training someone if their work history shows they move on every 8 months?”. Answer: yes. Your time as a shop owner is, in my opinion, more valuable than turning a wrench. If you spend 4 hours each day for six months training someone, and the other four working on growing the business while that someone is producing 3 hours of work for you – you’re ahead of the game. Not much ahead, granted, but still ahead. At some point you’ll find that technician who fits and will give you a great 10 years. Just keep looking, be patient, know that you’re in it for the long haul.
One more thing…build your compensation plans as you can afford to. A strong compensation plan with paid time off, insurance, profit sharing, and whatever else you want to include will attract better human resources than only offering money. Build it as you can afford it. See it as an investment in your business. After all, you’re trying to attract those individuals who produce your product for you!
Look, and keep looking. Be patient. Invest the time in training. Invest in your compensation plan.
Oh, and stay tight to your local tech school! And develop a mentor program! And….(this is starting to seem like work isn’t it?! It is work! That’s owning or running a business though!