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Proven Strategies for Fleet Managers Tackling the Growing Shortage of Qualified Technicians (Subscriber)

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Proven Strategies for Fleet Managers Tackling the Growing Shortage of Qualified Technicians

July 2023 | This article was originally published on SHzoom by Jorge Urias

SHzoom @NAFA - Tech Survey Report (July 2023)

The Problem At Hand

The future of fleet is changing rapidly.  In the world of fleet management, in addition to fast-paced technology and fleet electrification, fleet managers are also  challenged by the growing shortage of qualified technicians. This persistent issue is not just an operational hurdle, but a substantial threat, impacting various aspects of the industry.

As a result, SHzoom launched the NAFA Automotive Technician Survey as a method of gaining insight on behalf of NAFA fleet managers  to come implement an action plan to combat against the shortage of qualified technicians. The knowledge gained from this survey is designed to help fleet managers strategically adapt their recruitment and retention strategies, ultimately leading to more effective and efficient fleet operations. Through this initiative, we hope to foster an environment of growth and satisfaction for technicians, while ensuring the qualified technician shortage comes to an end.

Escalating Costs

Primarily, the technician shortage directly impacts the bottom line, leading to increased costs. Without the right people to maintain and repair the vehicles, fleets risk extended downtime. This situation results in higher costs associated with vehicle rental, overtime, or subcontracting. Even worse, it might mean missed deadlines or unfulfilled contracts, leading to financial penalties and loss of business.

Moreover, these elevated costs aren’t just short-term expenses. Over time, the need to repeatedly resort to temporary solutions due to the lack of qualified technicians can have a draining effect on a company’s financial health. This rising cost pressure can divert valuable resources from other critical areas, such as business expansion or investment in advanced technology.

Decreased Productivity

Beyond the monetary aspect, the technician shortage severely hampers productivity. The lack of adequate staff to perform routine maintenance and address mechanical issues can result in vehicles remaining off the road for extended periods. This scenario creates a domino effect: delays in one service ripple through the schedule, causing widespread inefficiency. In addition, overloading the existing technicians could lead to burnout, further worsening the productivity issue.

Further, decreased productivity isn’t just about immediate delays or interruptions in service. It also impacts long-term operational efficiency. Continual productivity challenges can stifle growth, limit the ability to meet increased demand, or disrupt the organization’s ability to introduce new services or innovations.

Damaged Business Reputation

Finally, the technician shortage can also lead to a damaged business reputation. In today’s competitive business landscape, customer satisfaction is paramount. The inability to meet deadlines, coupled with the potential increase in vehicle breakdowns due to insufficient maintenance, can frustrate clients and tarnish a company’s reputation. Once an organization’s image is damaged, winning back customer trust is a challenging and time-consuming task.

Notably, the impact of a damaged business reputation goes beyond the immediate client relationship. In an era where social media and online reviews can make or break a business, negative experiences can quickly become public knowledge. This widespread negative perception can deter potential clients, stymie business partnerships, and even make it more difficult to recruit quality employees.

SHzoom’s NAFA Automotive Technician Survey provides crucial insights that can help combat these concerning ramifications. To fully understand the situation and outline efficient solutions, let’s dive into a detailed analysis of the survey.

Understanding Technicians: Discovering Job Search Channels


One crucial aspect of addressing the technician shortage involves understanding how these professionals learn about job opportunities. Our survey reveals that 76% of technicians got their jobs through referrals from friends or colleagues, while online job boards served as a primary resource for 8% of technicians respectively. These insights highlight the power of word-of-mouth and digital platforms in job discovery.

This information presents an opportunity for fleet managers to strengthen their recruitment process. Since referrals seem to be the most effective channel, creating a robust referral program that incentivizes current employees to recommend qualified technicians could be a promising strategy. Simultaneously, maximizing online visibility through job boards and an attractive, user-friendly company website could be an effective way to reach more potential recruits.

Prioritizing Factors: Attracting and Retaining Talent


The survey also shines light on the pivotal factors that influence a technician’s decision to accept a job offer and their choice to stick with an employer long-term. For most technicians, salary and retirement plans are the most important factors. Furthermore, benefits and professional development opportunities also rank high on their list.

These findings underline the need for fleet managers to structure competitive salary packages and provide comprehensive retirement plans to not only attract, but also retain qualified technicians. Additionally, they should not overlook the importance of additional benefits and opportunities for skill development. By fostering an environment that promotes continual learning and growth, they can maintain a satisfied and dedicated workforce.

Navigating Employment Duration: Cultivating Loyalty


Finally, the survey results suggest that the tenure of technicians is quite varied, with a roughly equal distribution across ‘less than 1 year,’ ‘between 1 and 5 years,’ ‘between 5 and 10 years,’ and ’10+ years’. This poses a challenge for fleet managers, who must balance their strategies to appeal to both new recruits and retain long-term employees.

To address this, fleet managers need to adopt a two-pronged approach. For new recruits or those with less tenure, a focus on growth opportunities, competitive salary packages, and other immediate benefits could be more appealing. However, for those who have been with the company for several years, fleet managers might consider prioritizing aspects like retirement plans and professional development opportunities.

Let’s face it! Government fleet operations are competing with each other, and the private sector for a shrinking supply of qualified technicians. Public sector entities have a limited ability to adjust pay ranges or benefit packages. The traditional approach has been for public sector agencies to focus on the benefits (time off, medical, and retirement plans) side of the equation.

While these benefits are attractive to a more tenured technician, they have a limited effectiveness for new technicians entering this workforce group. You can keep trying to resolve this issue with legacy approaches or you can move into a proactive strategic space to address this challenge. This process takes time, a well thought out strategy, and extensive engagement with stakeholders.

This is why SHzoom’s very own Matthew Booco will be leading quarterly online workshop addressing this very problem. NAFA Fleet Managers looking to navigate the growing shortage of qualified techs are welcome to join. Seats will go fast, register using the sign-up form linked on the right side of this article.

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