HDAW session addresses tech recruitment, retention

Bill Headshot
Updated May 16, 2019

Recruiting and retaining technicians has been an industry issue for years and the situation is expected to only get worse.

Homer Hogg, director, technical service, TA/Petro, addressed the challenges and possible solutions during his session “Growing and Keeping Your Best Assets” at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Las Vegas.

Hogg stressed the importance of companies’ involvement with schools in their areas.

“You have to get into these school systems and tell your story because the school board is making decisions on where to spend money. In those [financially] tight years, they’re deciding where to cut and if you’re not going to school board meetings … they’ll cut those [vocational] programs,” he said. “Get familiar with the programs and if they don’t have them, get in those school board meetings and start having conversations.”

Another challenge to recruiting quality technicians is the gap between what technical schools are teaching and what the industry needs, Hogg said. He referred to a study indicating companies aren’t necessarily having a hard time getting applicants; the issue is getting qualified applicants.

“You’re going to have to be involved with tech schools and make them better,” he said. “You need to get on the advisory councils for these tech schools and help them create the right curricula.”

Hogg suggested several ways to attract technicians because, “There’s not one thing you can do. You’re going to need to fight this on multiple fronts.”

He mentioned implementing assistance with tool costs and tuition reimbursement as well as using government apprenticeship programs as a resource. He also said the military produces “great” candidates. “I love [former members of] the military. They typically have the discipline to show up on time ready to work — and that is a huge deal today.”

Another approach for companies is to “network” their current staff. “The folks who work for you now know a lot of technical talent. Sometimes you can give them incentives. Make sure you are engaging them and they’ll make recommendations,” Hogg said.

Once technicians have been recruited, the challenge becomes retaining them. Hogg said additional training and mentor programs to further develop technicians can be an effective way of keeping them.

“People will say you can’t keep millennials; they’ll stay for a while and then go work for someone else,” Hogg said. “If [millennials] believe you can help them develop and grow, I believe they’ll stay — not all of them, but most of them. They just want to know you’re going to help them.”

Companies also need to focus on their frontline supervisors because “I believe that is where you are going to win or lose this battle,” he said, referencing a Gallup poll in 2015 which determined half of Americans left their job to “get away from their manager [not the company] at some point in their career.”

Learn how to move your used trucks faster
With unsold used inventory depreciating at a rate of more than 2% monthly, efficient inventory turnover is a must for dealers. Download this eBook to access proven strategies for selling used trucks faster.
Used Truck Guide Cover