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What to offer technicians as a recruiting incentive?

I recently came across a post from Patrick Parton from Sonic Tools and it is copied here.

What to offer technicians as a recruiting incentive?

Published on February 13, 2020

Patrick Parton Automotive & Fixed Operations Solutions at SONIC Tools

  1. The best ideas I’ve heard speaking with Fixed Operations Directors across North America. According to Ward’s Auto, “America’s technical colleges and training programs graduate about 37,000 auto mechanics a year. Yet the industry needs to replace roughly 76,000 technicians annually to keep pace with retirements and new jobs in the sector, NADA says.”“The tech shortage is a serious issue, not only for dealers but for OEMs. Older techs are retiring, and we need to bring in new people.” According to NADA 2019 Chairman Charlie Gilchrist via Wards Auto.So, what are those in the industry doing to help combat the tech shortage?

  2. Many are building partnerships with their local technical schools to help with recruiting efforts. Even with these partnerships, those schools will still produce 29,000 technicians short of the industry need.That’s where recruiting incentives come into play. Sign-on bonuses are by far the most popular incentive but can cause controversy. Often times, older tech’s will see inexperienced technicians getting sign-on bonuses and wonder where their bonus is.One of the more unique ideas I’ve heard, while speaking with Service Directors, is the dealership paying off a technician’s tuition debt. On a recent visit with a dealership in Texas, I met with a Service Director who was doing exactly that.“If you stay with me for 3 years, I’ll pay off your tuition. Leave before then and kiss it goodbye.”His new technicians sign an agreement, when they are hired, that says exactly that. They make a 3-year commitment to the dealership, and the dealership agrees to pay off their tuition debt at the end of that commitment. It was the first time I had heard of that strategy.Benefits to this approach are that you build a huge amount of trust and loyalty with your technician, as well as alleviating the tech’s financial stress by eliminating their student debt. But, what about the tens of thousands in debt they’ll accumulate in tools?That takes us to the best idea I’ve heard so far.

The largest costs associated with being a technician are tools. When interviewing, technicians will often be asked about their tools, as if it is a measurement of their work ethic or skill. Why should a technician’s perceived worth be based on the amount of funds they have invested in tools?How attractive would it be for a new technician to avoid going into tool debt? How much would your dealership’s bottom-line increase by eliminating the time spent at the tool truck? How much would happier, more loyal and efficient technician’s be worth to you? This is where supplying tools to prospective candidates becomes the best solution for the technician and the dealership. Chris Barthel with Car Group has done just that.“We have a hiring policy that you must graduate from a school with an automotive background. We want to get these students into our programs and provide them the tools to succeed, but also the career paths to grow. We want to give them goals to aim for as they grow in their career. I’m going to supply your tools and lay down for my technicians on a piece of paper, here’s your goals and you can accomplish it all,” says Barthel. Car Group, and many other dealerships and groups, have built a huge amount of trust and loyalty with their technicians by eliminating the prospect of tool debt, while also being able to use those tools to provide a clear career path. This leads to attracting more technicians and retaining techs longer. The dealership gets happier, more productive technicians which increases their bottom-line.

Chris Barthel and Car Group h

ave specifically worked with Sonic Tools to provide these solutions to their technicians. Sonic Tools specializes as a single source solution for technician recruiting and retention by offering professional grade tools, toolboxes, built-in workstations, foam shadowing, inventory control, laser etching, and more.“With all these technicians that will need mentoring and tools, Sonic has everything we need. The technicians love the tools. They all talk about the Sonic Tool Program; they know what that means. We will continue to add tools to their kit as they move through their career. Sonic will help us control costs and provide ways to promote career growth. The technicians can also save their money and save for down the road. For the first time, our organization has a foundation based upon principles that are mutually beneficial for the technician and the company,” Barthel said.

These changes have paid off for the dealership’s bottom-line as well. Car Group's Cerritos Infiniti store's bottom-line has increased over $5,000 per month since they moved to supplying technicians with tools and using Sonic Tools foam shadowing. Signing bonuses are becoming the norm, but ideas like paying off tuition and supplying tools, are fresh ideas that can give your service department a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining technicians. Regardless of where you stand, the industry needs new solutions and outside-of-the-box thinking. Until there is a correction in the number of technicians available, service departments will need new ideas to make for a better future.The peril of service departments across North America will be the most dangerous phrase in the English Language. "We've always done it this way."To find out more about Sonic Tools and our solutions for Recruiting and Retention visit us at booth 6648N at NADA in Las Vegas, NV February 15th - 17th, 2020,You can also find out more by visiting , call 1-844-407-6642 , or email

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