A 12-volt technical consultant and trainer is offering a service that addresses one of the industry’s top problems, the lack of qualified installers.
Todd Ramsey of Ramsey Consulting Group now acts as a “match maker” that pairs installers, including top rung fabricators, with dealers who are often desperate to hire experienced technicians.
“It’s the number one conversation I have with retailers,” he said of the industry’s shortage of installers. The dialogue usually goes that a dealer wants to hire Ramsey to train his staff but he’s hoping to hire one new guy before he green lights the training so the new guy can benefit. Ramsey eventually found himself helping dealers find new installers in order to schedule his training sessions.
It’s been over a year now and Ramsey has placed a half dozen candidates. It doesn’t sound like much, but given the shortage of savvy installers, it’s understandable.
“It’s more of a service I can offer to clients with whom I have a relationship,” he said. Since he knows the culture and pros and cons of each retailer he can identify the talent that would fit. “Knowing the business itself and the ownership/culture, that’s the other important element.” For example, if a dealer is in borderline neighborhood in Los Angeles, a guy from the Midwest might not be happy there,” he explained. He also talks to local reps to help vet and find candidates.
Money isn’t the only bar to finding the right installer. “I have a retailer in Arizona willing to pay six figures for the right rock star fabricator. Still haven’t found the guy. Another in Texas asked for someone who is a fabricator/production guy. The problem is not pay, it’s just finding the right person. In this case, the Texas town is in the middle of nowhere.”
Also, many of the rock star installers tend to open their own shop once they reach that exalted status. Ramsey, as a technical trainer, is in a unique position to help bring good installers up to the next level of expertise.
“If you have a person that shows good potential, we’ll figure out a game plan for the next year; send him to the next Mobile Solutions training, or I might go in and do a training on OEM integration and electrical topics. We’ll send him to the SEMA Show…” The program can also work as an incentive package that includes a full year of pre-paid training as well as KnowledgeFest and SEMA Show attendance.
Sometimes Ramsey finds installers from outside the 12 volt industry. In one case he enlisted a technician at a car dealer. The candidate was bored, and wasn’t learning anything new. Where at a car audio shop, there’s plenty of learning opportunity, and room for more opportunity and creativity, he said.
As for the installer shortage, some of the medium to larger retailers have developed a training system for new installers. But the single store shops often lack the free time to concentrate on hiring.
“The solution is taking a longer term view,” and learning to take some time on finding new talent. “You can hire a sales guy or a person to run the books and finances, but for the big picture on a daily basis, ultimately you want to reproduce your own values in the installation bay.”