March 14, 2022

The State of Service Technicians

NAC Blog
NAC Blog

The State of Service Technicians

Finding technicians for the dealership service department hasn't always been easy, but it’s getting more difficult. As dealerships transition out of the pandemic and prepare for servicing EVs, they'll be hiring for current needs and sourcing an utterly new type of service technician.

And it's an issue that the entire auto industry is facing. The next decade will be a brave new world, but we’ve got tips on how to prepare.

The State of Service Technicians in 2022

The last two years have been challenging for dealership service departments. Downsizing and slower customer traffic hit dealerships hard. Although many are recovering, there's still an issue with parts availability to perform repairs and —more importantly—an issue with technician availability. Unfortunately, it may get a lot worse before it gets any better. So, what’s the issue?

For decades, Fixed Ops hasn't figured out how to grow their technicians past an hourly employee status. So, for example, although they may let them do an occasional brake job, dealerships won't prioritize grooming techs for leadership positions. But this type of treatment also falls on the OEM because they continue to squeeze hourly costs on a warranty repair. And, in the future, warranty repairs are going to increase.

Having a history of hiring an hourly technician and letting them stagnate in that position is coming back on dealerships. Because of how they've been treated in the past, techs aren't knocking down the doors for jobs. As a result, many have moved over to other fields of work, and service departments are struggling.  

Electric Vehicles Require Different Techs

While dealerships are having trouble filling current tech positions, there needs to be a serious consideration for a different breed of technician for EVs. A layperson may view mechanics or technicians as grease monkeys, but today's technicians must transition to more computer troubleshooting than ever before. In addition, as the industry services more electric vehicles, techs will take on a completely different look, and dealership HR practices will have to adapt.

It's possible that tomorrow's techs will look like they came from Big Bang Theory instead of Joe's Garage. As a result, dealerships will need to look at other tech industries and schools outside typical auto tech areas. In addition, this need for computer software IT technicians demands a broader discussion with the biggest and best minds across the industry.

The Takeaway

So, what can dealerships and service managers do to locate, hire, and retain current and future techs? Here’s what we recommend:

Contact Your OEM: Dealers need to get on their manufacturers to acknowledge the shortage of techs and ask them to do something about it. A solution shouldn't solely be on the dealer's shoulders.

Adapt Your Benefits for Technicians: Find out what your technicians think you could do better and change it. You need to retain more customers and make money, but if you don't have technicians to work on the vehicles, no sales technique will help.

Want to get more insight on the coming technician shortage crisis? Check out the video recording of NAC’s latest Fixed Ops 5 podcast episode on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel as well as the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.


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