By Dan Marinucci, Special to Tire Business
AKRON — Want to attract higher quality personnel to your auto service shop and retain them more effectively?
Look no further than your own surroundings and accomplish that by providing clean, modern facilities.
Diagnosing and repairing modern vehicles can be very challenging. If you plan on exceeding customers' expectations, you need higher caliber technicians who perform high-quality work. Exceeding expectations generates repeat business and referrals.
At the same time, keeping those high-caliber workers longer helps build a cohesive, cooperative team in your service department. I've found that teamwork is a characteristic in those service businesses that succeed over the long haul. What's more, teamwork and a pleasant work atmosphere typically go hand in hand with each other.
Improving worker retention also saves you money by minimizing costly employee turnover. We all know time is money and recruiting people may devour valuable time — not to mention distract you and your managers from your prime goal of running a business.
Recently, I have discussed in my Tire Business column the themes of respect and trust. I emphasized that successful owners and managers show respect — not just to customers, but to workers, as well. Eventually their respect will win technicians' trust and foster a positive, enthusiastic shop atmosphere. Simply put, this welcoming work climate invites those sought after high-caliber people rather than puts them off.
One effective way to show respect is providing a workplace that's neater, cleaner and more comfortable overall than what your competitors offer. Yes, a minority of techs are content to wallow in the squalor of some grease pit. But the overwhelming majority of workers appreciate a proud, professional workplace.
Furthermore, recognize that your technicians spend more time at work than at home. Given that fact, ask yourself how content and productive you would be in your own service department. Mind you, it need not be some sort of Taj Mahal. As yourself: Are the floors clean and have proper drainage? Is the shop neat, organized and well-lighted throughout? Is it adequately heated in the winter and well-ventilated in the summer? How's the condition of the restroom and break room?
One owner I know installed a new bathroom after purchasing an older building, replacing an old stand-alone toilet that had a tattered curtain around it.
The “facilities” are now fully tiled, insulated, well-ventilated and brightly illuminated. Until the owner finished renovations on the rest of the shop, this bathroom was nicer than the one in the shop's customer lounge!
What message does this investment send to the shop's technicians?
Meanwhile, what kind of respect for employees do your facilities reflect?
Making them work in a dirty, uninviting place does little for shop morale — and could lose good workers for your business.
Dan Marinucci is a free-lance automotive service writer and former editor of two automotive service magazines who writes a regular auto service column for Tire Business. He can be reached via email at [email protected]. His previous columns are available at www.tirebusiness.com.