There’s been much talk about the trucking industry’s shortage of drivers and what to do about it. However, the continuing shortage of truck mechanics and fleet technicians may negatively impact logistics more than the driver shortage. Like driver shortages, mechanic and technician shortages can affect the transport of goods. But not having enough mechanics and technicians also impacts longevity of equipment and truck dealers’ ability to maintain warranted equipment.
How Critical is the Problem?
Carl Kirk, executive director of The Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), shared this about the shortage: “A lot has been said about the shortage of qualified drivers facing the trucking industry. But very little has been said about the impending and equally threatening shortage of truck mechanics.”
In the same article, president and CEO of TBR Strategies LLC, Preston Ingalls suggests,
“We have an issue and if we don’t do something today, we will limit our country’s ability to grow and compete in an international marketplace.”
Are Truck Mechanics Your Best Problem Solvers?
Fleet Services 360 is one of TKO’s facilities, and we perform PM’s (Preventive Maintenance), DOT (Department of Transportation) inspections, painting, and various fabrications on fleet semi-trailers. I recently began working with the staff, developing team work, conflict management, and silo busting. I began by conducting one-on-one employee surveys, in which I asked questions such as:
• What would you do to improve the company?
• What tools would improve your performance?
• What do you like best and least about your job?
I learned we had a crew of upbeat problem solvers who shared great ideas and enjoyed their work. Think about it: A mechanic is a problem solver. I repeatedly heard what they liked best was solving problems and seeing the finished job.
These employees are just as valuable, maybe more so, than any other employee in the organization. They are smart, educated, hard working, and dedicated – they deserve to be treated so.
Treat Mechanics Well and They will Stay
• Pay them in the top 10-20% for the industry based on knowledge, accreditation, and experience. Truck mechanic salaries have not kept pace with the economy. If you want to retain mechanics – pay them what they’re worth.
• Offer a complete benefit package – health, dental, retirement, etc. If you offer wellness programs, flex scheduling, and in-house services, you’ll be more attractive to younger mechanics who work to live, not live to work.
• Make certain they have the tools they need to get the job done. Keep tools in good working condition and replace worn or outdated equipment.
• Offer and pay for certification training, or at least give employees the time to pursue accreditation.
• Offer teamwork and leadership training.
• Ask for input and listen to them.
• Don’t treat them as second class citizens. Treat them the same you would a CSR, IT professional, or a marketing blogger.
We’re listening and learning. Our technical staff is an integral part of our success, and should be treated as such. Without qualified mechanics our business would suffer. The shortage is here, and considering the number of boomers near retirement, it promises to get worse. We plan on keeping our great people by treating them right. Do you employ technicians? How do you retain valuable employees?