Don't Let Employee Problems Hold Your Repair Shop Back
We've said it before, and I'm sure you've heard it—there's a shortage of qualified diesel technicians out there. But that shouldn't be a reason to hire just any candidate who walks through your door. You could be doing more harm than good!
We wrote an earlier post that goes into details about hiring qualified technicians, and we explained how even though there is a shortage, there are things you can do to help your shop find qualified candidates. But you want to make sure you're finding the right candidates. Employee turnover can be an expensive mess, and having a toxic employee in your shop can create even more problems. Don't let one bad employee drive away your good ones!
As you're looking at your retention rate, the employees you currently have, and how many you want to bring in, you should also evaluate your hiring procedures. You want to make sure that when you're interviewing candidates you're not just looking at their technical experience and expertise, but evaluating their personalities and how they would fit into the shop as a whole.
If a candidate raises flags for you in the interview, it's probably better not to hire them. You might try and talk yourself past the warning signs because you just need someone quickly, but if that candidate turns out to be a toxic person, you stand the risk of not getting the quality work out of them you need and driving away your good employees.
Even if you do bring in someone and they don't seem to be working out well, try to address it with them. Let them know again your expectations for your technicians as far as work and attitude. If they still don't take what you're saying to heart, don't be afraid to let them go. It would save you time and headaches down the road.
You should also focus on keeping the employees you have. You don't want to lose good technicians because they're frustrated with a bad work environment or feel that they're unappreciated.
While this might seem like a lot for you to think about, they're all things that can be addressed through the use of systems. You can streamline how you screen and hire candidates, how you address problems in the shop, and ways to maintain a positive work environment.
Our infographic gives you some things to think about as you work to solve this problem:
Setting a Goal
Like with anything else you want to achieve in your diesel repair, it helps to have an actual goal written out. You might consider something like this:
Our goal is to reduce employee turnover by X%. We plan to do this by removing problem employees and hiring better candidates through more streamlined hiring procedures, in order to improve shop culture and increase profits through reduced turnover and increased efficiency.
For this goal, too, responsibility is shared by many people throughout the shop. It's important that everyone knows exactly what you expect from them—and you need to know what you expect from yourself.
The Shop Owner
Since you're probably not down on the shop floor constantly (at least you shouldn't be—you should be focused on growing your business and letting your managers do their jobs), you rely on others to bring you reports of the major problems. These would be your responsibility to address.
Similarly, you are the one who will need to oversee the systems and make judgment calls about their overall success. Are you finding and hiring better candidates? Has retention increased? Your systems can help tell you that.
You'll also be the one who can help make changes to the overall shop culture. If your employees seem dissatisfied, try to find out why. Do they feel they have insufficient benefits? Do they want more training to improve their skills? Would they benefit from some team building outings? Things like this can help make your shop a better place to work.
Hiring Manager/HR Person
Whoever is in charge of your hiring (this might be someone you have on staff, an outside firm, or possibly you) should help improve the hiring process to bring in better candidates. They should consult on how best to screen candidates to find ones that are not only trained, but will fit in to your shop culture.
Since they are the ones on the floor all the time, they should be the ones to bring any major problems to your attention, so that you can work to solve them. It should be part of their processes to know what and when to bring these things up with you.
Make sure you have a plan in place for how you want to go about measuring your new (or improved) systems. Efficiency and productivity are both good ways for you to help keep an eye on how things are going in your shop. You might also want to make sure you know your turnover rate, and then monitor it over time to ensure your systems are actually helping to improve it.
As I'm sure you've put together, the success of this goal relies on the systems you implement in your shop. Some you might think about include:
- Shop Operating Procedures: You might also consider this an employee handbook. It should lay out how employees are expected to act at work, job expectations, lay out benefits, etc. You can also lay out the things you absolutely will not tolerate in your shop. Have each employee sign it, so that should a problem arise, you can point out that they were aware of the shop policies. You'll come from a stronger position, then, when confronting employees who are creating problems in your shop.
- Hiring Processes: These can lay out exactly how you want to look for candidates, screen them, common interview questions, and your general expectations for possible employees. This will help to hire people who have a better chance at being successful in your shop.
- Tech School Partnerships: As we've mentioned before, you should consider some kind of partnership or mentorship program with tech schools and programs in the area. This can help you locate candidates before they hit the job market, giving you a leg up on other shops that are looking to fill positions as well.
- Chain of Command: To help with overall expectations and system implementation, there should be a clear chain of command laid out for your shop. People need to know who they report to directly.
- Training: Having processes in place for continued training can help you retain employees. They'll be able to grow their skills, and also set them on the path for future advancement.
Once you have everything laid out and put into place, you want to make sure you're tracking how the new processes are going. This is where the ways you decided to measure come into play. You should have a baseline to go off of, and then watch how things change. If the systems don't seem to be having an impact, you might want to review and revise them. In the end, though, systemizing this process should help you take care of employee problems and bring better people into your shop.
Through systems, you can effectively manage your business without having to be present for everything that happens. Instead, you can put your time and energy into growing your diesel repair shop into a profitable place to work for years to come.
If you're looking for ways to help your workload, check out our Repair Shop Value Program!