Ben Murphy, the only mechanic who maintains 52 school buses serving the Plainfield (Indiana) Community School Corporation, checks for power on harness for the fan clutch on Bus No. 31.  -  Photo courtesy Ben Murphy

Ben Murphy, the only mechanic who maintains 52 school buses serving the Plainfield (Indiana) Community School Corporation, checks for power on harness for the fan clutch on Bus No. 31.

Photo courtesy Ben Murphy

The maintenance shop run by Carol Bowes is relatively small, serving a fleet of 85 school buses in rural Person County, North Carolina. She has three mechanics and one fuel person, an apprentice mechanic.

“But with a small shop, even one missing mechanic is a real stretch for the other mechanics,” Bowes says.

Her public school district has done a few things to help with hiring quality technicians.

“I went to HR with a spreadsheet showing what diesel mechanics made at a dealership compared with what we were paying,” she says. “It was almost embarrassing. We live in a rural area with no actual dealerships, but with the spreadsheet and factoring in where we were located, we were able to hire two excellent mechanics at a salary that was equitable. They also liked being able to work closer to home. It was a huge step in the right direction.”

They’ve also started a program to help pay for ASE certifications.

“This is a big boon for training young mechanics to become great diesel mechanics and thought it is in its beginning stages, I believe it has great promise,” she says. “We also enroll them in training that happens all through the year, both with vendors coming to teach us at state conferences and vendor conferences so they can learn all the new procedures and methods coming out. It is important that they stay current with training.”

It's also critical to make sure the technicians get the right tools, Bowes says.

“Technicians should have the ability to diagnose engine problems and have the correct tools to fix the problem,” she says. “They should not have to guess what a problem may be and then scrounge around trying to find or make the tools to get at the problem. That takes time and parts and money that could be saved if they just had the right equipment to begin with.”

Mechanics working at Person County (N.C.) Schools include, from left to right: Jason Branscome, Adam Martin, T.J. Harris, and Phil Rowland.  -  Photo courtesy Carol Bowes

Mechanics working at Person County (N.C.) Schools include, from left to right: Jason Branscome, Adam Martin, T.J. Harris, and Phil Rowland.

Photo courtesy Carol Bowes

School Bus Fleet collected the following tips for recruitment and retention from Bowes, National Express, and Michael Stotler, the customer support manager for Thomas Built Buses:

Recruitment

Tip No. 1: Explore Tech Schools

Use tech schools and colleges with programs, as well as career fairs. Specialized schools often have programs with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that allow students to be trained on the latest software and procedures.

Tip No. 2: Seek Military Experience

Check out military career fairs that can connect you with people with vehicle work experience who are leaving the service.

Tip No. 3: Think Local

Be creative and don’t just post ads on websites. Place posts locally around your business in places frequented by technicians, including in the tool trucks that visit your business, local auto parts stores, and social media pages.

Tip No. 4: Hire from Within

Recruit through your current workforce and seek recommendations, with bonuses for employees who bring in recruits that stay beyond a certain period of time.

Tip No. 5: Build a Recruiting Pipeline

Engage potential candidates through recruiting sites, such as Indeed and LinkedIn, to create a quality pipeline.

Tip No. 6: Show the Benefits

Offer a full benefits package (medical, dental, vision). National Express includes prescription safety glasses every two years.

Tip No. 7: Share Cross Training

Provide training on multiple fuel types, including gasoline, diesel, propane, and electric buses.

Tip No. 8: Offer Certification Appeal

Offer incentive programs for ASE certification.

Tip No. 9: Pay Equitable Wages

Pay as much as possible, competitive with wages available at dealerships.

Tip No. 10: Give the Proper Tools

Ensure that your techs have the right tools and equipment to do their jobs and succeed.

Retention

Tip No. 1: Provide a Desirable Workplace

Be a preferred employer, with benefits beyond base pay.

Tip No. 2: Enable Ongoing Education

Offer continued training to elevate staff knowledge.

Tip No. 3: Fund New Tools and Upgrades

Grant a tool allowance for technicians.

Tip No. 4: Maintain Equipment

Keep shop tools and equipment in good working order, promoting a safe work environment.

Tip No. 5: Offer Software Subscriptions

Supply technicians with software and technology-based tools with current subscriptions.

Tip No. 6: Boost Spirits

Raise morale and have fun with free lunch day, monthly celebrations to celebrate employee birthdays, or ice cream on a hot day.

Tip No. 7: Unlock Advancement

Provide room to grow within the organization.

Tip No. 8: Build a Road Map

Give annual assessments to leverage strengths and promote development.

Tip No. 9: Spread the Word

Distribute informative monthly department newsletters.

Tip No. 10: Work Together

Collaborate via team email network to share best practices and troubleshoot with peers.

0 Comments