Five Best Practices to Hire and Retain Qualified Technicians

Looking to hire technicians for your business? Here are five best practices to find, hire, and retain qualified technicians in your area.

According to a recent survey by Principal of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), retaining and attracting qualified employees is a top concern for 80% of them. In today’s tight labor market, the challenge of finding and keeping technicians is weighing heavily on the minds of service providers in all trades.

What is the impact of not having enough technicians to handle your company’s workload?

  • If your company can’t respond to a customer’s repair request quickly, they may lose them to a competitor, as well as any potential business from that customer in the future
  • You may lose more technicians from job burnout because they are having to cover more service calls
  • Your costs increase, as it costs more to hire and train new employees than it does to retain them

How much does it cost when an employee leaves? According to a study from the Society of Human Resources Professionals, replacing an employee can cost 1/3 of the annual salary of that employee. That’s $25,000 for an experienced tech who makes $75,000!

A decrease in your team’s productivity, the loss of experienced technicians that know your company, the inability to efficiently service current and new customers, and an increase in recruiting and training costs, can lead to a downward spiral for your business that is tough to stop, let alone turn around.

Here are five ways you can find qualified technicians and retain the team for the long term:

1) Always Be Recruiting
Even if you are at full staff, it is imperative that you keep your pipeline full of potential technician candidates. Your website should make it easy for technicians to express interest in working for your company and apply. Even if you don’t hire applicants right away, you can build your candidate database and start to build a relationship with them that can pay dividends later when you do need to fill a position.

2) Develop a Robust Referral Program
People enjoy working with people they know and like. Why not make it worthwhile for your current employees to refer their friends and families to fill new technicians and other roles at the company? Consider a financial reward for any referral that is hired. Even better, pay a bonus for each year the hire is employed. This will save you on recruiting costs and motivate employees to refer qualified candidates.

3) Optimize for Mobile – for Everything
Employees of all ages use their phones for everything from communications, job searches, shopping, and more. Younger generations are true digital natives and expect that the experience on their phones should be clear and simple. Your website and employment application should be optimized for mobile viewing and interaction.

And “mobile first” doesn’t stop at recruiting. It is a business imperative that you have a state-of-the-art mobile dispatching system that is easy to use and provides all the information your technicians need to handle a job, communicate with the office, and file post job paperwork. Providing the tools and infrastructure to support your employees can help to ensure they stay for the long term.

4) Treat On-Boarding and Training as a Top Priority
The first few months for a new hire are critical in retaining new employees you just spent a lot of time and money to hire. In fact, one survey showed that 33% quit their jobs in the first 90 days and almost half of them do so because the job did not meet their expectations.

How do you ensure the first 90 days on the job for new hires meets their expectations and satisfaction with your company?

  • Assign a mentor. A great way to support your new employee during this period is to formally assign an experienced technician or other employee who can help them get up to speed quickly on the procedures at your company.
  • Set clear expectations. Schedule dedicated time to meet with each new employee to ask key questions and learn more about them. This will help you learn what keeps them motivated, how best to communicate with them, and their interests outside of the job so you can support them. Taking a “one size fits all” approach to managing employees doesn’t work for most things, including engaging and retaining your employees.
  • Schedule frequent check-ins. To see how you (and they) are doing, make sure you have frequent check-in meetings and calls to see what questions they have and how you can bet support them during the first 90-day critical period.

5) Explore Partnerships with Your Local Community Colleges and Apprenticeship Programs
The traditional four-year college path just doesn’t work for many students these days, whether it’s the cost of tuition or the uncertainty surrounding job prospects upon graduation. Community colleges and trade schools offer cost-effective alternatives, with programs that combine classroom and on the job training, along with opportunities to transition to local employers upon graduation.

Many community colleges and trade schools also offer formal apprenticeship and recruiting programs. Whether you are looking to hire electricians, plumbers, or heating and cooling technicians, service providers can participate in these programs to hire trained young professionals for your businesses.

Remember, hiring new employees is not a transaction, it’s a commitment to creating a great environment for them to work and opportunities for them to grow and serve your customers. By hiring, training, and retaining an experienced team, this in turn will help you to grow your business and retain customers.