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Material Handling Wholesaler Cover
September 2017
Garry Bartecki examines the industries current financial challenges and regulation changes.

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Hire a Vet!

“The troops are coming home!” “The size of our military is going to be reduced!” “A lot of veterans are going to be out there looking for jobs!”

It seems that every day when working with dealers, attempting to encourage them to focus more and more upon marketing the service repair end of their business I receive the same frustrating reply. “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find service technicians in our industry?” Yes, I do know how difficult a task this is and particularly when the dealership is only putting forth a “token” effort to recruit technicians.

Consider how much time, effort and money you spend on trying to find a “half-way” decent Sales Manager or even a salesperson. You’ll hire a head-hunter, you’ll fly people halfway across the country to interview the prospect, and no amount of effort will be spared. But the only thing that makes you think about hiring a technician is when your shop is overflowing, with backed-up service work. Then it becomes a scurry to find a “warm body”.

Yesterday I was talking with a Service Manager friend of mine who I knew was hiring technicians from the military pool. Over the years he has hired nine technicians who have come out of the military and just this week he hired a Navy person with a technical background and was bringing him to Texas. I asked him how he convinced a guy on the east coast to relocate to Texas. He told me that most military personnel know that Texas is friendly to the military and the guy wanted to come to Texas.

It is a “seller’s market” for experienced service technicians. The law of supply versus demand has kicked in and as we mentioned last month the demand for technicians far out paces the supply.

Most equipment dealers have cycles in their business when business is down, like the farm equipment industry; cycles seem to occur every five years. When business is slow we are told to cut back on expenses and personnel. This of course makes sense, but where do we cut? Maybe we can lay off a few technicians, even though we know it will be hard to hire them back after the market turns around. Maybe we lay off a new hire, our aftermarket sales person. We all shake our heads and cry that the sky is falling. Funny most of the successful dealers believe just the opposite. They send somebody out there to market their shop, to bring the equipment in for repair.

When a dealer tells us he does not have enough service business right now to hire a technician, we tell him to look at his Service Contribution to Total Sales. Most dealers, except the professionals run below 10%. This is a clear indication that they are missing the greatest sales opportunity available to their dealership. We tell them to get out there, become proactive and fill up the shop. Again their comeback, “we can’t find technicians!” We find that there are a whole lot of equipment dealers out there who are being held hostage by their service technicians. Some dealers have such a low technician billing efficiency, that we wonder how they can keep them on the pay roll. We suggest firing and replacement, they reply: “we can’t find replacements!”

If we continue to sit around waiting for some miracle to happen, you can be sure that little will change. I know a Corporate Service Manager who has six Service Managers. Each one has been assigned a trade school within their area. Each one spends a day a month visiting the schools and recruiting. They are not sitting around in their offices waiting for a prospect to walk through the door.

The title of this month’s article is: Hire a Vet! Maybe, just maybe that is the miracle all of you who constantly state how difficult it is to find a technician have been waiting for.

Its’ payback time, ladies and gentlemen! I discovered long ago how much it meant to have a job offered when I was released from the service. I am a Veteran, I was drafted I wasn’t a volunteer like all of these great people are today. I walk through airports shaking hands with every trooper I see, thanking them for their service and now I want to do more and here is what we are going to do, but we need your help and assistance.


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