‘I Can’t Find Technicians!’

They’re out there; it just takes some digging

By Paul MacDonald, Expert Service Program

The lack of technicians is the number one complaint I heard at the BrandSource Summit last month in Las Vegas.

It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible!
Service dealers can’t handle the demand for repairs and have resorted to only doing warranty service on their customers’ purchases. This act of desperation is the worst reaction they could have during this overwhelming sales period. The greater the warranty ratio to a dealer’s COD service, the fewer profits they will enjoy from service, if any at all. All dealers in this situation will lose money in service and will continue to lose money until they correct the issue. Immediate action is required to stop the losses. Dealers have to be quick to react and take action to build their teams … or exit service altogether.

In short, you have to find, hire and train technicians.
While we can explain an increase in business from the pandemic, the lack of skilled technicians has existed in the appliance repair trade for many years. With unemployment at an all-time low and an economy creating jobs faster than we can fill them, this condition will only worsen. HR and recruitment teams and AVB’s own HRSource are working harder than ever to find talent for member dealers across the nation. Employee recruitment has become a full-time job for companies large and small.

Where to look for technicians.
A simple Indeed ad will no longer cut it in this current environment. Successful dealers will reinvent themselves to attract talent for sales, delivery, installation, and service teams. Daniel Abramson, Managing Lead of HRSource, recently shared these eight practical recruiting strategies in YourSourceNews, which you can quickly implement to help employee recruitment. Building on Daniel’s strategies, Bailey Reiners at Built In also offers 29 Recruitment Strategies With Real Examples for 2022. Both articles are worth reading and will guide you in thinking outside the box to resolve your recruitment challenges. Reiners’ article will also have you focus on your website career page, employee testimonials, and sharing your company culture on your social media feeds.

If you haven’t done so already, take advantage of approved AVB vendor partner CareerPlug.com. CareerPlug will post your unlimited job posting to all job boards for one low annual fee of only $495 for BrandSource members. CareerPlug centralizes all your recruitment activities to one central platform, simplifying the process and providing you with all the tools to succeed.

See: BrandSource Plugs in to CareerPlug

Abramson spoke up at ServiceSource’s Town Hall Breakfast at Summit about reaching out to local trade or vocational schools to find technical talent to become future service technicians. Another of Abramson’s YourSourceNews articles, “Where to Find Qualified Service Techs,” outlines and lists several vocational schools throughout the U.S. Carefully go through the list as some schools no longer offer appliance repair curriculums.

Unfortunately, it’s time to give up on finding the rare, elusive technician with experience. They are currently employed, and if they aren’t, you most likely don’t want them on your team either. One exception is an experienced technician looking to relocate for school or family reasons. Be sure your job postings are seen in other markets around the country. Over the years I’ve had success finding diamonds in the rough and creating service technicians. Look for suitable, outgoing candidates with good customer service skills and who possess a mechanical aptitude. You can teach anyone how to fix appliances, but you can’t teach customer service attitude.

Tips to Find and Hire Quality Candidates
Hiring today’s millennial job seekers is different than recruiting baby boomers. Millennials are more interested in searching online and setting up job alerts from popular job boards, so that job openings come to them. They also want to apply online, and have different motivators than older generations. While the pay rate is crucial to them, so are time off and benefits. You’ll have to up your game to attract quality candidates from this pool of candidates. Matt Janowiecki of ApplianceVideo.com knows this well and has created this YouTube video, “Seven Top Tips to Find and Hire Quality Employees.” In it, Matt talks about sign-on bonuses, vacation time, video interviews, and mechanical aptitude pre-employment tests — all key recruitment strategies that warrant watching his 8-minute clip.

Training A Service Technician
In the September 2021 edition of the ServiceSource newsletter, you’ll find my article, “The Ultimate Guide to Finding Appliance Repair Training.”  In it, I lay out how to polish that rough gem into a service technician. Now would be a good time to reread these articles and create a training plan to build more technicians in your company. It’s the only solution to handle the increased demand for service.

Here are my five current suggested options for technical training :

  1. Master Samurai Tech: Self-paced online learning; $695 and up.
  2. Fred’s Appliance Academy: On-site and online training available; $200 and up.
  3. Dyer Appliance Repair Academy: On-site training in Richland, Texas; $1,999.
  4. Cornerstone Appliance Training: Self-paced online learning; $249 and up.
  5. Penn Foster College – Self-paced online learning; $964

Whichever source for training you choose, it will take time and money. The cost to train a technician from scratch is approximately $60,000 to $80,000 and will take six to eight months. Don’t let the cost scare you; you want to get it right, so add this into your cost of doing business and calculate your service rates based on your costs. Build a plan and document it. Set goals and timelines to hold all staff accountable. Don’t accept excuses when timelines and or passing grades are not achieved. Your staff and customers will thank you for keeping everyone accountable.

BrandSource service consultant Paul MacDonald ran his own 38-tech service business and is a past president of the UASA. He currently operates the Expert Service Program, which helps servicers run their operations more efficiently and profitably. You can reach Paul at (647) 500-7785 or Coach@ExpertServiceProgram.com.