Auto Mechanic working on a car

Improving Motivation and Retention of Auto Technicians Boosts the Bottom Line

Keeping employees motivated in the workplace is important in any industry, especially because it’s easier and cheaper to retain employees than to find and train new ones. But it’s particularly vital in the automotive repair sector, which faces an ongoing shortage of technicians who can handle the task of repairing today’s more complicated vehicles. Retiring older workers, unclear career paths, salary issues and tough hours contribute to the shortage.

Compounding the issue, the demand for skilled automotive technicians is rising. There were about 750,000 automotive technicians in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data. But BLS expects demand for auto technicians to reach nearly 800,000 by 2026, a 7 percent increase from current levels.

Staffing shortages at dealerships and repair shops hurt the bottom line. Automotive News estimates a typical auto technician generates $1,000 in gross revenue every work day. That means a position that goes unfilled for 90 days creates a potential loss of $90,000 for that business. Multiply that by several positions and over longer periods of time, and it’s easy to see why employee retention is important.

Luckily, dealerships and repair shop owners that know how to motivate employees can get a leg up on the competition and avoid costly retention issues.

Recognize top performers

The median pay for an auto technician in 2017 was $39,550 a year, according to BLS, and the work is quite labor intensive. Most service technicians work full-time, plus overtime on evenings or weekends. Increased monetary compensation is one obvious way to keep employees motivated in the workplace and reward them for their hard work. Retention requires paying raises and bonuses for good work and high productivity.

Clear employee performance expectations need to be communicated up front so everyone knows how to fairly judge and reward it. Regular employee performance discussions provide an opportunity to offer feedback about what the employee needs to improve upon, and to offer positive feedback on a regular basis which will make your employee feel appreciated.

Appreciation for a job well done doesn’t have to be monetary. Public and private recognition for good work goes a long way to build trust and loyalty and keep employees motivated. Likewise, constructive criticism should be accompanied with positive feedback. Rewards for exceptional work could include tickets to concerts or sporting events, gift cards or an extra day off.

Make employees feel safe

Automotive service technicians and mechanics have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, according to BLS. Service technicians must frequently work with heavy parts and tools to complete their daily job duties. On-the-job injuries, such as small cuts, sprains and bruises, are common. Promoting safety in the auto shop by creating a safety culture is another way small business owners can improve retention and keep employees motivated.

Turnover is a fact of life in the automotive repair trade, but it doesn’t have to be a continual drag on the business. Recognizing performance and providing a safe work environment can help improve employee retention. Employers who know how to keep employees motivated will be successful operators for years to come.

EMPLOYERS is committed to helping auto dealerships and repair shops operate safer, more efficient work places. Contact EMPLOYERS® today to learn more about our cost-effective workers’ compensation insurance.

The information provided is intended to provide a general overview. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. EMPLOYERS makes no warranties for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information provided, and will not be responsible for any actions taken based on the information contained herein. If you have legal questions or need legal advice, please consult an attorney.