We recently introduced our GARAGE plan (you can read here) to the public as a way to help shops develop a strategy around recruiting and retaining top quality Technicians. The feedback on the plan itself has been great but we’ve been asked to take an even deeper dive into this. Our feeling is that we need to continue to educate shops about what we see on a daily basis and make sure that we have candid conversations based on this. For this reason, we’re going to do a concentrated blog for each letter in the GARAGE Plan. In our first installment of the GARAGE Plan Blog, we’re going to focus on the first “G” in the acronym. This “G” stands for Get Organized and is the foundation of what can have a major impact on your business moving forward.
Getting organized means a variety of different things but it truly stems from taking your thoughts and getting them from your head to a piece of paper. When doing this strategically, we develop what we like to call a plan. Ok, that may have been a bit of sarcasm on my part but I think it’s fair to mock it a bit as this is about as serious as most shops take this. While funny to think about, this is a subject that could be devastating to your business if not taken serious. If you’ve read other blogs of mine, you probably get sick of hearing me preach about how Technicians are the core foundation of a successful shop. Yet, nobody likes to think about this until the day that they need a Tech and are frustrated when they can’t seem to find them.
It’s certainly no secret that Techs are hard to find. I don’t think I’ll receive any argument on that. What can be debated is the level of effort that is put into thinking through a strategy aimed at Technician recruitment and retainment. It’s laughable at times as to how much effort, or lack thereof, is put into this part of the business that is so vital to a service businesses bottom line. We see very few that put any effort into it at all!
With that being said, we feel like there is a huge opportunity for shops that are willing to put the effort in. Because most shops haven’t caught onto this yet, there’s still a chance for you to get out in front of the crowd and set yourself apart. The way to do this is to sit down and come up with a plan of attack on how you’re going to approach this, and then execute on that plan. Most of us probably haven’t thought about approaching it this way but you have to be intentional if you’re going to win in this game. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably in for the long haul…so, let’s get started. Let’s start with the beginning and what you need to have to get started. Prior to spending any time on this plan, you have to get absolute buy in from everybody that is going to be involved. Owners and Managers, and any other key stakeholders, have to be on the same page when getting serious about planning. The one thing that you’re going to have to understand and come to terms with is that putting together a plan takes time. I’m guessing that this might be the one thing you don’t currently have as you’re looking for help but it needs to be prioritized. How much time will it take? It really depends on your setup but it is something I would advise you to continually analyze and schedule into your busy week.
Once you’ve got the buy-in for the time commitment necessary to execute on a plan, it’s time to dive into the plan itself. You’ll want to start by understanding what it is that you’re going to want out of the plan. Is it to simply build your “rolodex” of connections so that when it comes time to needing a Tech, you’re ready to pull out your list? Are you a larger location that needs to continually be hiring good Technicians? Are you a small shop that is eventually looking to exit your business and possibly sell of to this next hire? There are hundreds of hypothetical situations but it’s important to know what you want your outcome to be.
From there, it’s time to set goals based on what you’re wanting. If you’re looking to hire one Tech per month over the next year, how many interviews is that going to take? If you need to hire one Tech in the next 6 months (congrats on the forward thinking!!!), what is that going to look like? How many interviews has it taken you to find the right person in the past? Write action based goals that help move the needle toward what you want.
Now that you understand what you’re wanting and have goals built around that, it’s time to dive into the plan itself. I think it can help to draw upon previous experiences to understand what you don’t want to start. Ever had a bad hire in the past? If you’ve been in the business for any amount of time, I’m going to take a wild guess that you have. The GARAGE Plan is meant to help you proactively plan your strategy moving forward to do what you can to prevent those types of hires.
For this part, we’re going to start with the initial sourcing., A big factor in your plan should dive into where you’re going to pull candidates from and how. It helps to identify what kind of Tech you’re looking for to start. For example, if you’re going to focus on bringing in less experienced talent, you’ll want to identify your local trade schools and begin to develop that relationship. Offer to join their advisory board or help volunteer at an event of theirs. If you’re looking for a more experienced Tech, understand that it’s going to take time and that it’s a process. Experienced people are tough to come by so where will you be pulling resumes from? Indeed, Zip Recruiter or our favorite, FindAMechanic.com? Are you comfortable reaching out to potential candidates on your own? If not, that might be the time to call a recruiter like Find A Wrench (another shameless plug. Apologies!). I’m not even necessarily saying that you need to go through us to be successful, I’m more or less saying you need to understand what your strengths are and identify where you can make some progress on your areas of weakness. One other piece of advice would be that you need to come up with different ways to source these great people. If you count on one job board or only on a word of mouth campaign, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Diversify your sourcing methods for maximum success probability!
Something that we see fairly often is that most bad hires come as a result of rushing the hiring process. Too often, we wait until the very last minute to conduct interviews and can make poor choices based on hiring in a hurry. As part of your GARAGE Plan, we suggest putting a hiring process in place. As an example, I suggest having at least 2 interviews, with the first being about 30 minutes long and the second being more formal and detailed. The initial 30 minute interview is only meant as a way to qualify them for the formal interview. And if you really want to take it to the next level, consider taking the candidate and their spouse to dinner to learn more about them. Not only will this help you get to know the candidate on a deeper level, it will help you understand what they’ve got going on at home. This should be a major part of your plan as well.
One other thing to take into consideration with your hiring process is a backup plan. We often see candidates make an appointment to interview with a Manager or Owner, only to have it delayed because the Manager had a schedule conflict and nobody else could do the interview. Consider developing a backup plan in the event that it does happen or to put in place if you get busy with a good customer. Having a backup plan in place prevents further delay of the initial interview. Remember, the leverage has shifted to the side of Technicians, so any delay in the process makes it more likely that they are going to go somewhere they are prioritized. They want to be wanted!
Lastly, stick to the plan. Make sure that you’ve got accountability partners and schedule quarterly status update meetings between them to see if your plan is working. Evaluate your goals and how much time is actually being spent on the plan itself. From there, figure out what’s working and leverage the hell out of it. The fun part of taking action is that you’re going to see results and be able to adjust your plan accordingly.
I truly believe that if you prioritize the planning portion of the GARAGE Plan and focus on execution, you’re going to see an impact in your business. Managing the expectation that this is a complete culture shift and that your actions will need to change as a result will ultimately determine your success with this. As I said, there is a heck of an opportunity for shops out there that are willing to bite the bullet and understand that it’s not business as usual. Whether you see it or not, shops that are proactive in this phase of their business have a distinct advantage over their competitors. We hope to help you be on the winning side of that equation.
If you’d like to learn more about the GARAGE Plan, check out our latest video using this link.
We love to hear questions, success stories and stories of the heartaches created with your Tech searches. Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story. To see the original GARAGE Plan blog, along with other industry related blogs, feel free to check them out at https://findawrench.com/blog/. To make sure you don’t miss any of the latest updates, feel free to go to the FindAWrench.com homepage and sign up for our mailing list.
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