Joe Lockerd, CEO of AutoMax Recruiting and Training, breaks down a truly unique approach to finding and keeping master technicians, one of the most in-demand roles in our industry.

What is it about finding techs?

Whoever does this really, really well is going to make a bazillion dollars, because we all need them. Frankly, it's even a challenge for us. We do a pretty good job with it, but it's still challenging and we’re proud that we’re able to do it so well.

Let's talk about techs—let's talk about experienced techs. We'll talk about master technicians, A-level techs. This might be a vast generalization, but again, I want you to really think this out with me for a minute here. You're going to have to steal a master tech, or you're going to build one by paying for all their schooling and everything else through the whole process of becoming a master technician. For long-range planning, that's probably the way to go, but bang, what do you do when one that leaves or retires?

You need a master technician right now, yesterday, or last week!

So, how do we find a master tech?

In the past, we've used money.

Say that I were going to give you a trillion dollar signing bonus to move to my dealership. Well, for a trillion, anyone will move. For another 5, 10, 15, 20 bucks an hour, even a $5,000 0r $10,000 signing bonus, they're not moving their tool chest from XYZ Chevrolet to ABC Motors. They're simply not moving it. Here’s how that conversation goes:

Most people would go back to their old job and say, "hey, you know what? ABC Motors made me just a crazy deal, I'm sorry. I know I've been here eight years, but I have to go. I've got to move my tools. They offered me X amount of dollars to come down the street."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. How much did they offer you?"

"X amount of dollars."

"Well, you're a great employee. We want to keep you. We'll match that, or we'll better it by $1,000."

The guy never moves. Here's the vast generalization comes in, but I want you to think about this.

If you could again generalize technicians, what's really important to a tech? Money's important, don't get me wrong. They work for dough, but what's really important is their weekends and their time off.

What do they do on the weekends? Generalization, they hunt, they fish, they work on other people's cars on the side, or whatever they enjoy doing when they have the time. They spend time with their families, they bowl, they're in a softball league. Their time off is critically important to them.

So, how about a four-day work week?

I'm here to say this to you, that a master technician, the real deal, an A tech, is going to turn 50, 55, 60 hours in four days, if you have the work, just as quickly as he will in five with no comebacks, with great work, because he's standing around waiting for parts for hours during the day.

So, if you can schedule his work properly, put him on a four-day work week and that master tech's going to move that toolbox for that extra day off. It’s almost a guarantee.

The answer, for many, is a four-day work week.

"Craig, that's going to cause chaos in my shop." people say to me.

Well, have people step up to the plate. We can do that. Somebody reaches certain plateaus, certain incentives, give them the four-day work week. There’s nothing wrong with that. We've got to think outside the box. If you want master techs, they're not grown on trees. They’re the product of their own hard work.

There are only two ways to get them.

You've got to build them from a farm system, pay for their training, make sure you don't let them out of your building, overpay them, or cut it down to a four-day work week. That's a simple, good hook for master techs, body techs, and A-level employees you want to keep. It’s simple: think outside the box and you’ll retain better talent, longer.

If you’re looking for recruiting help, contact us. We’re here to help.

Craig Lockerd

Craig Lockerd is the founder and CEO of AutoMax Recruiting And Training. He has nearly 50 years of experience in the auto industry. You can find Craig on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.