Your Technician Shortage Is Not a Good Excuse

Across the United States, there’s a technician shortage. 

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From New York City to Los Angeles, Fargo to Albuquerque, dealerships are scrambling to fill empty workbenches with experienced technicians. There’s a problem with blue-collar jobs in the country, and automotive technicians are a core component in it. 

The cost to dealerships of being even one technician short during a busy month is monstrous. Think of it first in terms of numbers: 

•    A productive technician can be safely estimated at 120% productivity. In an eight-hour workday, they’ll book nearly ten hours. 

•    Door rates nationwide are approximately $125 per hour. In a single day, a vacant workbench can cost a service department $1,250 or more. 

•    In a 22-workday month, it’s approximately $27,500 of unrealized income for just one technician on labor alone! You can estimate missed parts sales to be nearly the same. 

But there are more costs than the dollars and cents. Firsthand accounts of service departments booking appointments a month in advance are more frequent than you’d think. If you think all your service customers are waiting around for four weeks for their service appointment…

How to Deal with the Tech Shortage, Here and Now

If you’re looking for an easy answer, you won’t find one. But there are a few ideas to help your current technicians pick up the slack. It takes teamwork and commitment, and a whole bunch of appreciation. 

•    If you can’t hire a technician, hire a valet. Ask any technician – the biggest waste of time they experience daily is bringing vehicles in and out, brushing off snow, and other non-work-related tasks. Hire a valet, or more than one, to take care of the menial tasks that reduce a technician’s productivity. You can boost your shop’s productive hours by 10 percent on this alone. 

•    Offer late-night appointments once a week. You can help reduce your backlog by putting in later hours with your current staff. But it can’t be normal pay for long days – make it worthwhile for your techs. Without them asking, offer an extra hourly bump for time spent after normal hours, and be generous! Many will be happy to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

•    Love on your techs! Technicians only leave if they’re unhappy. Encouraging conversations, reward dinners, and unexpected bonuses are a great way to build goodwill with the technicians you have. They won’t be looking elsewhere, and you might even spread the news that you’re a great employer. 

Short on technicians? That’s a common theme. But don’t let that excuse hold your service department back from providing amazing customer service!