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How do we attract, recruit more heavy-duty truck technicians?

Most people are aware that the trucking industry will need an influx of technicians/mechanics to keep up with the current shortage. 

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The question is: how do we generate some hype in the industry to recruit and develop young talent to help with the workload? Recruiting is one of the most valuable attributes that a good fleet or shop manager can bring to the table. Having the ability to get the right people in place to fully service a fleet maintenance operation is a must when it comes to keeping your equipment functioning safely and efficiently.

Comparing the carrier environment to a specialized repair facility environment

Within the carrier environment, you have the option to either staff a maintenance operation yourself or to sub the duties out to an outside service. If you decide to staff the operation yourself, you will have to learn how to recruit and develop young talent. Recruiters should be educating young men and women on all the positives that this industry has to offer. With all the job openings and the excellent pay that a tech can receive, it’s amazing that it is so hard to fill the positions. It is up to us to inform the up-and-coming talent that this is a great career path and the knowledge that can be gained is extremely valuable. I personally tell every young person I come across that is searching for a career about the opportunities that this field has to offer. Take advantage of any opportunity to spread the word about the possibilities of becoming a diesel technician and the benefits that come along with it. One thing that will attract talent to your organization quickly is being able to invest in your techs and help them build a career path. 

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It is very common as a carrier to overlook the importance of investing in your technicians. Whenever you are spec’ing your equipment, talk to the manufacturers about providing on-site training to your techs for routine maintenance items or common repairs that are being performed regularly. Most of the time they will do this for free as part of doing business. Take advantage of this valuable training; there is no reason that you shouldn’t. The techs will appreciate that you are investing in them by offering them training, you will develop a more educated staff, your equipment repairs will be smoother and more cost-efficient, and you can rest easy knowing the repairs are being done correctly. 

Motivating your techs and providing financial support to get certified in programs like the ASE are good ways to help development, and this also adds value to your shop for the certified techs that you provide. A specialized repair facility is usually in better position to invest in their technicians as they are the assets that drive the company and create direct revenue. In this environment you can really build a company around the technicians and create something special that attracts candidates looking for a career path. 

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This can be done as a carrier, too; it just takes special attention to building this philosophy within your organization. When you invest in your techs, you will also attract experienced technicians that are looking to build even more on their career. 

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Image is everything

I once walked into a mechanic shop of a very well-known carrier and was astonished at how clean and organized it was. The floors were sparkling, the equipment had been wiped down, tools and equipment was in designated locations that were identified by signage. All of this made for a very appealing entrance to say the least. I immediately thought to myself how nice it would be to work out of that shop with it being so clean and organized. The cleanliness and organization go a long way when it comes to obtaining good help and keeping it as well. 

When you show up somewhere to work and the floor is dirty, tools and rags are laid out everywhere, parts aren’t separated by bin location and there is no organization in the process, it really takes something away from the mood. People like to work in clean, well-organized environments and this also creates a safer working environment. Management should always be monitoring cleanliness and making sure people follow the processes of basic housekeeping in a shop. When you bring potential candidates in for interviews, the ability to walk them around the shop and show off how well everything is set up will go a long way. 

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What to look for when recruiting talent

When it comes to evaluating talent for a position within your team, you must figure out what your critical needs are and go after people who can help you resolve those needs. During this process it is imperative to build strong relationships with those individuals. Having a good understanding of each other and learning to trust your people to do their jobs will take you a long way. Creating an exciting environment helps people to be more creative, and this will help you build a better product overall. This will also help with recruiting new faces, as people will want to take part in your exciting operation. 

One of the best examples of how great recruiting can change the landscape of an operation is none other than Nick Saban, head coach of Alabama Crimson Tide. Saban has reestablished Alabama as a national power in college football by establishing a great recruiting program and developing young talent. Saban has a keen instinct for knowing what his team’s critical needs are and being able to see which players can help him with those needs, then developing that player to perform when they are needed. 

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Look at when Saban recruited Corey Webster at LSU. Webster was a starting high school quarterback, and no one was interested in him. Coach Saban evaluated him and determined that he would make a good cornerback, so he took a chance and recruited him as a corner. Webster went on to be the starting corner for the New York Giants for 10 years and ended up winning two Super Bowls. If Saban hadn’t thought outside the box and developed this young player, Webster’s career may have ended early. Saban was aware of his critical need for the corner position, got creative to fill that need, and it ended up working out for everyone. Sometimes you must think outside the box and recruit people who may need some time to develop, but will help you fill your critical needs once they do.

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