It’s no secret that the trucking industry has a shortage of technicians. By 2022, the commercial trucking sector will need to fill more than 100,000 technician positions. A considerable part of this issue is that knowledgeable technicians are retiring, and the incoming group of technicians isn’t arriving with the skills they need for entry-level service work. Another issue is job hopping. According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, 56% of technicians have had at least two jobs in the last five years. Because diesel technician retention is such a big issue for fleet managers, it’s vital to pick up new strategies like the following to keep your top performers.
1. Improve Your Shop Condition
One reason the trucking industry is short on diesel service technicians is that people see working on fleets as a dirty job. Today, engine work is much less greasy and more sophisticated. Keeping your shop clean can improve perceptions about the technician field and create better working conditions for your staff. By eliminating the hazards that come with a messy shop, you show your team safety comes first. You can also improve your shop condition with modern technology, like:
- Laptops and advanced diagnostic tools: These items can make a technician’s job cleaner and more efficient.
- Service management software: This technology can help track repairs and maintenance and improve the performance of the entire shop. It allows teams to work more cohesively, knowing everyone is pulling their weight.
Young technicians expect a modern workplace. As trucks get more complicated, your tools must become equally advanced. Having the right tools improves workflow and keeps your team on the cutting edge as innovations reach your commercial vehicles.
2. Encourage Professional Growth
In nearly every industry, opportunities for growth keep employees engaged. This is especially true in fleet management. Many management-level professionals in the trucking industry start out as entry-level technicians.
After picking up the basics, a technician has many opportunities for advancement:
- They can specialize in parts or certain types of repairs.
- They can climb the corporate ladder.
- They can be promoted to different positions because of the various skills that go into fleet maintenance.
Travis Leybeck of the TechForce Foundation calls this the “career lattice.” Where the traditional career ladder has one direction, fleet maintenance has multiple paths to choose from. Many young technicians don’t realize what opportunities are out there.
Millennial and Generation Z technicians have a hunger for advancement. When these team members get passed over for promotions, it may cause them to look for a new job. By setting clear standards for pay increases, you can let your team members know what it takes to succeed at your company.
It’s also smart to focus on promoting from within, rather than seeking outside hires. Poaching top talent in the automotive services industry is a major factor that contributes to retention issues. Your staff members are less likely to receive promotions when you bring in outside hires. These hires can easily be poached again with a higher offer if they are willing to hop positions. Meanwhile, your current staff may be tempted away with better job offers elsewhere.
You can boost your technician retention by making opportunities readily available to your new and current team members:
- Current employees: It’s vital to give new educational opportunities to current employees. Almost 30% of fleet technicians say they would take a job in a different industry if the company promised to train them. Ongoing professional development gives technicians the chance to learn about new concentrations. You can fill in your skills gap while helping your employees advance within your company. It also keeps your staff ahead of the curve as new technologies crop up.
- New employees: It’s also critical to realize the technician shortage starts with new hires. An Automotive Service Excellence survey revealed 42% of new technicians leave trucking within two years. This drop-off rate highlights the need for early training. Many service managers recognize the gap between trade school education and expectations for new technicians. The right training early on can make new hires feel more prepared and keep promising recruits engaged.