How to Hire (& Retain) An Auto Mechanic For Your Repair Shop

How to Hire (& Retain) An Auto Mechanic For Your Repair Shop

Diesel Truck Repair | Repair and Maintenance | 09/21/2023
Written by Stacy Conner

Finding the right person for the job. It’s such a short sentence, and it sounds so easy to do.

But the reality is, finding the right mechanic can take a great deal of time — if you’re not prepared with the right tools and know-how. Fortunately, you’re reading this blog.

Wondering what to ask, look for, and say when hiring your new team member? Whether you’ve hired new team members a thousand times before, or are looking for a more efficient way to hire, join us as we explore key checklist items for hiring and retaining mechanics for diesel repair shops.

What types of mechanics are there?

A team of mechanics smiling with their arms folded, all in front of Equipment Experts equipment

Dozens of mechanics exist. It’s important to know which fleet mechanic is needed for which role.

These are the most common types of mechanics in the auto, truck, and fleet repair industries:

Each of these mechanics and vehicle personnel plays a key role in helping a repair shop carry out its core operations and different types of vehicle preventive maintenance. So, it’s important to have a well-thought-out plan and iron out a complete checklist of hiring tasks before your mechanic’s first day on the job.

Let’s take a look at some of those checklist items.

Checklist items to do before hiring your new mechanic

A mechanic looking down at a tray of tools with a giant piece of heavy equipment in the background

Before you hire a mechanic, there’s a great deal that needs to be done. The following checklist items will help make your life easier when hiring an auto mechanic.

If you want to hire a great mechanic, you’ll want to understand how they conduct their job search.

Understand where mechanics are searching for jobs

A camera shot of two people staring at a digital tablet

You could be asking friends, family, vendors, business partners, and more if they know of any quality auto mechanics, but you might be barking up the wrong tree. Consider searching online, hanging up “help wanted” flyers, hiring from within, posting your job online, or reaching out to local auto and fleet repair organizations as part of your recruiting strategy.

By casting a wide net through a variety of hiring practices, you’ll have a greater chance of nabbing a dependable, hard-working mechanic who fits the bill and gels with your team. A little pre-planning goes a long way.

Define the role, skills, and work experiences needed

Two young men sitting at a table with a book, food, and coffee between the two of them

A candidate for the job might look great on a resume, but unless they have the skills and work experiences you’re looking for, they’ll be as handy as a broken wrench. A qualified candidate for an auto mechanic position is trustworthy, great with their hands, and has training and experience in the field.

In terms of soft skills, an ideal candidate should also possess strong attention to detail, an ability to meet tight deadlines, and great organizational skills. When you define the role, skills, and work experiences you’re looking for, you’ll more likely be able to filter poor candidates from exceptional ones.

And if you need help clarifying your needs for the next mechanic for your business, don’t hesitate to browse our collection of 1-2 minute-or-less videos and recommended resources about fleet management.

Write out a detailed job description

Two Equipment Expert, Inc. employees staring at a checklist on the table in front of them

Everyone loves a great story (check out ours here!). Many fleet managers have an idea of what they’re looking for in a mechanic, but they rarely take the time to craft the story — and perfect pitch — of what they want their dream technician and mechanic to be like. Before interviewing candidates, consider drafting a job description that includes a story about who your company is, what you’re looking for, and why you’re looking for a mechanic now.

When your job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities, background required, and required and preferred skills for the position, candidates will see you take your work seriously and have a great passion for it. The more transparent you can be about your needs and processes, what a day in the life of a mechanic looks like, and who your company is, the better equipped you’ll be to find qualified candidates worth hiring.

As a result, candidates will likely appreciate your openness and be more eager to interview and potentially work with you.

The cost of hiring the wrong person is much too great for your business’ ambitious goals. Writing a solid story and compelling job description will help you find the right person for the role so you can focus more time and energy on what you do best and less time dealing with problems that could arise from your new hire at your business.

Learn how to interview a mechanic

A close-up of hands and a clip board at a table

Before you schedule interviews with potential candidates for the job, you’ll want to know what to ask. To find a qualified auto mechanic, consider asking interview questions about the following topics:

To attract qualified candidates, it’s important to sell your shop as the best auto repair shop out there in your area. After all, your mechanic candidate is interviewing you just as much as you are them, so make sure you pitch your shop so that it stands out from other competitors’ repair shops.

Once you’ve nailed down your interview questions and have a toolkit of different recruiting strategies on hand, you’ll be officially ready to begin hiring.

Checklist items during the hiring process

An Equipment Experts, Inc. employee staring at a computer with a tray of files in front of her

Once you’ve nailed down what you’re looking for and how you want to present it, it’s time to start turning your plans into action.

While moving through the hiring process, you’ll want to be aware of the following tips for a successful and fruitful hiring process for your new mechanic:

We’ll discuss each of these tips in greater detail in the sections that follow.

Attract job seekers through many different hiring methods

A close-up of an employee with his hands in the guts of a vehicle

Research shows that 80% of jobs are filled through networking or by word-of-mouth through professional and personal references, according to a 2019 CNBC news article. More and more these days — and when compared to other job markets — mechanic candidates are searching for jobs online, in-person, and by word-of-mouth.

Whether your job posting is on a physical job board, recruiting website, flier, pamphlets, at the local car dealership, or by word-of-mouth, it’s important to use all your resources to publicize your new role. The more outlets you have for sharing your job opening, the better the chance you’ll have at nabbing the best person for the job.

Don’t be discouraged. As the saying goes, it only takes one!

Choose only the most qualified mechanics to interview

A close-up picture of a single mechanic leaning against a truck and smiling

Ideally, you want your interview process to be short. And you want to interview the most qualified mechanics for your role.

After finding a pool of qualified talent, we recommend scheduling all interviews over the course of a couple of days. A relatively small window of time for interviewing allows you to compare candidates to each other while they’re fresh in your mind.

Not sure how to sift out who is and isn’t qualified?

Reach out to your current team. Ask them to answer your interview questions.

The candidates who give answers that most closely align with your team’s sample answers will more likely be solid candidates for your company — and the final interview and selection process.

Choose potential mechanics for final interviews

A close-up of an employee, Michael, leaning with his arms and leg crossed in front of a truck

Once you feel you have a solid pool of qualified mechanics, you’ll want to narrow your selection to just a handful of qualified talent. But careful: you’ll want to be as unbiased as possible.

Consider reaching out to another team member to help you in selecting qualified talent. Having a second pair of eyes will help you stay objective about the role and not let your biases affect your decision-making process.

We can’t emphasize this point enough.

You and your new mechanic may get along well, but that may not mean they’re the best person for the job — least of all a fit with the other mechanics in your auto shop. Consider hiring mechanics who gel well with your team or who seem to be similar in skills, experience, and temperament as the rest of your team.

While conducting your final interviews, if nothing else, ask yourself, “Does this person match the job description I’m advertising?” If the answer is yes, and you feel the candidate has everything you look for in a great mechanic, then it’s time to extend an offer to them.

Send an offer to your newly hired mechanic

A close-up of two sets of hands, one handing a pen and paper to the other.

There are a couple of items on your plate you’ll want to think about before sending out an offer letter to your new mechanic. You should ideally offer your new hire a competitive wage — a wage that’s more than what they’re currently earning.

Deciding between a full-time vs. freelance or part-time mechanic? Conduct research on what the going rate is for a mechanic at that rate in your area, as well as your ideal cost/profit margin for your growing business.

Doing so will help you provide a strong offer to your mechanic so they know you’re serious about hiring them.

And if you need help coming up with your cost/profit margin, feel free to read our complimentary eBook, A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Fleet. It describes everything you need to know to know to help create a lean, yet solid budget for your fleet team.

Checklist items for after the hiring process

Three Equipment Expert, Inc. employees with arms crossed standing outside in front of Equipment Experts, Inc. equipment

If you want your new mechanic to stick with you for the long haul, you’ll want to follow these “after-hiring” checklist items, including:

By keeping these checklist items in mind, you’ll more likely set yourself up for success in hiring and retaining mechanics who can do more than just oil changes and transmission overhauls. You’ll be setting yourself to hire loyal employees who will help you grow your business long-term.

Stay in close contact with your new hire

A close-up of a phone in someone's hands while the person sits on a skateboard

Your new mechanic is considering signing your offer letter. Give them a couple of days to think about the offer, and make sure to stay in close contact.

If they accept your offer, congratulations! If they’re not starting immediately, consider keeping in touch — such as calling, texting, or emailing them — about once a week to show that you’re excited to have them on board and to complete any last-minute new-hire agenda items.

If you need a mechanic for the job, the worst mistake you can make is to hire them, but not show excitement about their first day, or by leaving any questions unanswered. An employer who doesn’t stay in contact regarding the next steps can rub potential job prospects the wrong way.

Keep in close contact and have all paperwork ready, so your new hire knows you’re serious about and excited for them to start the new job. 

Prepare onboarding materials ahead of time

A close-up picture of four 3-ring binders filled with paper and all stacked on top of each other

One of the key reasons that many people leave a job within the first year is because the employer didn’t make the work responsibilities clear from day one, according to a review of research conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management. When it comes to starting a job, mechanics work just like other new employees in other fields: having materials prepared ahead of time can influence whether a job prospect will stick around for the long haul.

The job prospect should be briefed on and understand all the details of the role long before their first day. Whether you’re discussing tools like coveralls and goggles, common safety standards practiced at your company, or even the types of repairs and maintenance your new mechanic can expect to do on the job, being open about the duties and responsibilities of the job can help you in retaining your mechanic for the long haul.

If you’ve prepared all the onboarding materials ahead of time, all that’s left now is to show up on day one with a positive attitude and a smile. You’ll have your new mechanic jonesing about their new job in no time.

Make a lasting impression come day one

A smiling employee with his hands on his hips

Some people work one job their whole life. Others may have had multiple throughout their lives.

Most people remember their first day on the job, though. Just like your new hire, it’s important to show up prepared, eager, and ready for your new mechanic.

They may already have conducted research about your company, so it’s important that you meet their expectations by confirming what they’ve read or heard about you. If you can make their first day exceptional, you’re on the road to a great, long-lasting work relationship between you, your new mechanic, your team, and your business.

Hire and retain top talent with Expert help

11 employees standing in a diagonal line against individual trucks

If you’re looking or need to hire a mechanic who will stick around for the long haul, contact Equipment Experts, Inc. today. With more than 20 years of experience working in fleet repair, with fleet teams, and with heavy equipment, we’d be happy to help.

Whether it’s identifying which skills to look for in your new mechanic, or answering FAQs about how to hire and retain a great mechanic, give us a ring. Learn how the Experts do hiring and fleet management.

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