These are uncertain times for the trucking industry with so many things occurring that are outside of our control. I mentioned some of them in my last blog—rising costs, driver and technician shortages, astronomical fuel prices. The good news is that we don’t have to sit idly by and let these forces impact our businesses.
We can turn our focus inward and make operational changes that could save us money. One thing that costs fleets significant amounts of money is the finding, hiring and retaining of technicians. An article in Forbes earlier this year talked about the impact of the technician shortage on automotive repairs. It’s no better in the trucking industry. In fact, I would say it is worse. While a delay in an automotive repair is an inconvenience, a delay in a truck repair costs the fleet money.
See also: Technician training in the digital age
We all need to step up our game when it comes to technician retention. When was the last time you walked through your shop? I challenge you to do it today. Technicians, like all of us, want to work in a place that is clean, organized, and safe. How does your shop rate in those areas? No one expects a truck shop to be spotless, but it can be neat and orderly.
You also need to make sure your technicians have the latest diagnostic tools, including laptops or tablets. And I am not talking about one shared laptop for the shop. It’s also important to make sure you are updating electronic diagnostics equipment and laptops so they are operating on the latest version of their software.
If your shop is working on multiple brands of trucks, you’ll realize that your techs will need multiple connectors and cables that will allow them to plug into various pieces of equipment. To avoid frustration, make sure those connectors and cables are all gathered in one place so the technician does not have to waste time tracking the proper one down. I have seen some very creative and effective carts assembled in our shops that prove to be effective in dealing with this topic and make life that much more efficient for the technicians.
Training is another critical piece in your technician retention efforts. Techs need to be trained in order to work on all the new technology on today’s trucks, but training also is an investment in your people and a way of showing them that you are interested in helping them grow and develop.
Consider offering incentives for techs who take tests to become ASE or manufacturer certified. One word of caution, if you are offering a program for technician training, make sure your techs understand what’s involved or they may not take advantage of it. In addition to any emails you may send about the program, have the shop manager explain the program to your technicians.
See also: What it takes to keep drivers happy
While it is important for technicians to listen to drivers (I talked about this in my last blog), it is also imperative that drivers communicate with technicians about any issues they are having with the trucks so that techs can have more insight into what to look for when they begin diagnosing a problem.
It’s also important for technicians to feel their voice is being heard by management. This does not mean you have to implement every suggestion you get from your technicians, but make sure you are seeking their input on issues that affect them.
If these things sound costly, consider the following: The Society for Human Resource Management reports that, on average, it costs six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them. I am sure that does not take into account lost revenue because repairs will be taking longer while you are short a technician.
Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.