By Bob Clements to attendees of Farm Equipment’s 2022 Dealership Minds Summit on Next-Level Service Management.

Editor's Note: This is a web-continuation article from "Winning Comp Plans that Align with Process, Deliver Results," appearing in the October/November 2022 Farm Equipment and based on a presentation at the 2022 Dealership Minds Summit. 

You realize that 65% of the population right now are job-hopping. They believe that changing the job every 2 years is the easiest way to advance their career. We need to stop that. But what are people really looking for when they job-hop? 

So far this year, we’ve placed about 100 technicians with the 300 dealers that we’re working with. It’s not hard to find technicians. We just aren’t looking in the right places sometimes. And a lot of my dealers are looking for people who are currently unemployed. About 3.5% of the total population is unemployed out there.

Instead, what we’re looking for are the people who are job-hopping; that large part of the working population who changes jobs every 2 years who see it as an advancement opportunity.

So, if we had 157 million people employed in the U.S. and 65% of those are moving every 2 years, that’s 102 million people a year. That’s about 4 million people a month. How many of you feel like if you had a pool of 4 million people to draw from, you could start finding some people?

The problem is that we’re not looking for the right things and we aren’t building programs that are attractive to these job hoppers. I know this sounds strange to a lot of you, but I want to find people who are hopping jobs every 2 year, including the technicians.

And when I look at their resume and I see guys, in the last 8 years, who’ve had 4 jobs. Now I am 68 years old, and that would've been a negative thing for me in the past. Today, it’s not. 

Don't look at that resume as a negative. But the first question to ask is what caused them to move from the job 8 years ago to this job that they held for 2 years. “Why did you leave and what were you looking to gain in the new job?” And listen to them as they explain what they were looking for. “And then 2 years later you made another hop. So, help me understand what you didn’t like there. And what were you looking for in this new hop?”

“I know this sounds strange to a lot of you, but I want to find people who are hopping jobs every 2 year, including the technicians…”

What I'm trying to do is get in their brain and understand what is it that they’re looking for — because they haven't been getting it. They’re not getting enough to stay. And I would do that all the way through. 

And then my last question is “What type of things do we need to do if you’re looking at coming on board with us? What do we need to do to keep you 3 or 5 years? Tell me what it is that you would need to get from me as a service manager or me as an owner that would make you want to stay. And then we shut up and listen and then build your programs around that.

Why They Job Hop

These are the 5 things that studies found out that employees want when they job-hop

1. More Money. No big surprise there. 

2. Growth opportunities. People don’t want to stay in the same job forever. And so, one of the things I try to get my dealers to understand is the need for a growth plan and wage guidelines (based on posted labor rates) for service techs (See Technician Pay Rates — By Skill Level eguide available). It has 8 levels to it and shows the skills needed to advance and how their wages are impacted as that happens, as a B-tech advanced toward an A-tech position over time. Each has different requirements, but each time you go to a new level, you get paid more per hour. And so every technician that starts in our dealerships knows, they don't have to start at the bottom; we’ll test them and start wherever they’re at.

 3. Learning Opportunities. Do you give your employees learning opportunities? Most dealers say they do, but are all learning opportunities available, or just those with your dealership or industry?

Is an employee’s desire to learn, even it has nothing to do with your dealership, a valuable thing for an employee and a business? Do you want employees who are looking to learn new things? I don’t care if that tech wants to learn Mandarin. Even if it has nothing to do with the job, consider the difference in somebody who’s constantly working on thier learning. They start thinking differently. This could involve a community college or an online university like Coursera, which costs $400 per employee annually. They have 5,000 courses available. Most of my dealers will give candidates that option. They say, “if you want to come on board with us, we will contribute $400 toward your interest in these courses. It’s a benefit of a compensation program.

4. Cultural Connection. The manager sets the culture. How many of you in the service department have, at least once a week, some sort of a food gathering where you gather everybody around with pizzas or burgers and not to talk about business but just to break bread together? That’s the culture we're talking about. People want to be a part of a culture, part of a tribe.

When your technicians go to meetings and trainings, guess what they’re talking about? They’re comparing with their peers how things are working at other dealerships. Culture is an important part of it, and you want your people proud that they are working for you. 

5. Flexibility. Employees want flexibility. The service department is relatively simple. Most of our dealers, especially those with younger technicians have moved from 5, 8-hour days to 4, 10-hour days. Young technicians like 3-day weekends. I don’t really care because you still get 40 hours of work. Now you can’t do this at the parts counter or in other areas of the dealership, but it can be done in the service shop. 

If you want to find and attract and keep good young technicians, put them on 4, 10-hour days — because they absolutely love it. And efficiency starts to come up in your shop just because you’re changing the hours they’re working. 

For example, consider the technician who has 45 minutes before they need to leave for the day but has a 1.5-hour project up next. What will most technicians do? They’ll find a way to “burn away” 45 minutes.

But if you have them on 10-hour days, suddenly that shifts around and thinks, “OK, I have another 2 hours, and this is a 1.5-hour job. I’m going to go ahead and punch this one out. And so, in the shops that are doing the 4-10’s, we’re seeing a 15% increase in productivity. Not because they’re working faster because they’re just burning a little bit less of their time.

Older techs don’t like the model, but we have shops that do 4-10s and 5-8s. Again, we don’t care as long as we get our 40 hours.