I think it’s a myth that you can just keep looking and eventually find the perfect technicians; then repeat the process to find another one. It won’t happen. Good technicians usually already have a job or can get one quickly if they decide to relocate or don’t like their boss. The chances of stumbling on a qualified and motivated technician who is looking for a job are minimal. The main reason is because the hiring process is done the wrong way.
Just look at the pitfalls in the traditional ways you could try to find and hire a qualified technician:
- You could attempt to hire technicians away from the competition by offering a substantial increase in pay. But other businesses will soon catch on and start a wage war. Besides, the technician who left his former employer for some extra money would probably do the same thing to your company.
- Some technicians are referred to businesses by other technicians who work for them. Yet the person referring may not have the same perspective regarding whom you want to hire. Or they may not be aware of the person’s skill level.
- You might want to advertise for a technician. But that may be a challenge, considering how many companies are looking for technicians at the same time and who would be applying. If they are so experienced and motivated, why aren’t they working already?
- Another caution: When hiring, you will ask for experience and skills in a technician. Yet 20 years of experience for some technicians might mean the same years of experience repeated 20 times. There is no universal standard for expertise.
- Also, a newly hired technician should be able to adapt to your company procedures. Loads of experience may not be a plus when you are looking for someone to try and retrain. Teaching an old dog new tricks isn’t easy.
What’s Left? There needs to be some new method to follow when hiring a technician so that a company is assured they are getting a qualified person. The message is clear: The technician’s role as an ambassador and professional salesperson — at least from a customer’s perspective — is often more important than raw technical skill alone. If we are going to be effective as owners and managers, we need to recognize that subtle fact. Your technicians are the only real contact that your customers have with your company. Think about it. Customers don’t often see you; they speak to your call takers on the telephone, but never meet them. Your technicians are the only representatives your company has. They are your ambassadors to the public. They are the people representing you and your company — a scary thought, sometimes. It’s something to remember the next time you are looking for a technician.
Our technicians are our sales staff. If the potential customer agrees to have the service and repair work done, it is usually because of their favorable view of the technician sent out to do the job. As much as we hate to admit it, technicians are salespeople. Regardless of their technical expertise, if they can’t sell the customer on having the service work performed, there is no sale.
Here’s an observation I’ve made: Customers are not very familiar with the quality of the work that has been done. They assume if the problem is fixed, the work must have been properly. Even though a customer may not be able to detect average or excellent technical skills, they can determine quickly and accurately whether the technician was courteous, treated them with respect, listened to their problems and looked and acted professionally.
We pay our technicians as we would salespeople. Those who legitimately sell the most, get paid the most. Why not pay them according to the business they produce. An incentive system works for technicians just as it does for other salespeople.
Finding The Right People: I approach the search for those fine people who can help me improve the growth and success of my business in a different way. If I need to hire individuals who are actually selling everyday, I advertise for salespeople. I have to admit it was easier to train a personable, friendly and professional-appearing individual in the fine points of service work than it was to train a skilled technical person how to treat customers so that they feel special.
I believe the only super technicians you are going to find are the ones you train yourself. No technician starts at our company without going through a comprehensive and rigorous training program. When they graduate, they know the technician’s job and we know them. They complete written tests, on-the-job training, close observation of their work and a trial period. It’s demanding, but I don’t know of any other way to build a team of top quality technicians.
A special benefit to molding your team of technicians yourself is retention. Once they learn the job and pass their internship, technicians are not likely to go to another, less professional company. Retention is higher. We have several people who have been with us for more than 10 years. Not having to replace technicians saves money and time, plus customers really like them.
If you are facing a shortage of technicians, maybe a fresh way to look at the job will help you overcome the mountain toward growth and increased profits. Build a team. Waiting for superstars to land on your doorstep is a waste of time.