Dealerships’ personnel expenses have escalated as they keep increasing their technician compensation rates and offering bonuses to attract new employees. Yet, first-year turnover rates for technicians continue to climb. For dealerships, technician staffing is the new battleground.
Many dealers and automotive groups are attempting to “grow their own” — implementing their own technician training and development programs. This can be a very worthwhile approach, though it presents challenges — namely, a significant investment of time, finances and staff to develop and implement such an in-house training model. Then, once the model is in place, the task of recruiting future technicians remains.
Indeed, on-the-job training and development — apprenticeships — are an answer. I would argue they are the answer. Yet running an on-site apprentice program while also running a dealership is like running two businesses at once.
In many markets, the shortage has expanded well beyond the point where individual dealers can cobble together in-house apprenticeships. A more holistic approach is needed, and a growing number of dealers are discovering a solution by hiring independently operated auto tech apprenticeship providers that focus solely on addressing the shortage of auto technicians. It’s a turnkey approach that includes managing apprentice recruitment, conducting candidate interviews and orientation, providing soft skills training and managing compensation — as well as providing hands-on education and training for each apprentice. And, importantly, each apprentice is matched with a nearby dealer for full-time employment.
Research shows that employees who participate in apprenticeship programs are more likely to remain with the company after completing the program.