The value of quality auto technicians can’t be overstated. Without a fully-staffed service department, a dealership can’t churn out work at an efficient rate. Technicians are the literal means of production – it’s as simple as that. And as everyone working in the industry today knows, there’s a real shortage of both new and experienced technicians in the field.
With a shortage of technicians, it has become increasingly difficult to increase production and revenue. But it’s important to see the full scope of the problem; it’s not that all of the good technicians are gone, it’s that dealerships need to start treating technicians like the valuable assets they really are to actually attract and retain them. Most service managers and general managers want to know how to hire automotive technicians in the modern age, and the answer is no big secret: retention is all about treating them with respect.
A great example is that of Kayce Morris, an experienced technician who shared her story about getting terminated over a social media post. Morris had been working at a BMW dealership for over a year. She was doing quality work day in and day out, lifting up her teammates and the department as a whole. She had done some maintenance and an alignment on one car in particular, and then returned the car to the customer. A couple days later, they came back and complained about some pooling in the car. Kayce was confused, but she put it back up on the rack to check if the alignment was straight. When she went to pull the wheels off the front of the vehicle, she noticed that three of the lug nut holds had been cross threaded. Kayce knew she hadn’t done that. But she couldn’t prove it.
In the process of completing the repair, a receipt for a discount tire shop fell off the dashboard. Kayce picked up the receipt and found that the date and time listed on it was 10 minutes after the customer had picked up their vehicle from her shop. It all started to click. The technicians at the discount shop had stripped the lug nut holds, not her. Kayce felt vindicated, and she told her boss. Later that day, she made a post on Facebook with the caption: “There’s very few times when a Technician can prove that they’re right..” In the post, she explained what had happened, being careful not to use any names or identifying details. But it didn’t matter…her coworkers saw the post and she got fired the next morning. She didn’t do anything wrong, but the dealership didn’t like her standing up for herself. It was seen as insubordination, and that was the end of the conversation.
She called a friend at a Ford dealership in town and was able to get a job pretty quickly. But she could tell right away that the shop was disorganized and chaotic. They were three months behind on transmission work because their transmission techs were burnt out. So she proposed a solution to her service director: train me to work on transmissions and I’ll become your dedicated transmission tech to help clear the backlog. But the higher-ups disagreed…they didn’t want to pay to get her trained. She felt frustrated and discouraged all over again. So she took action: she called a friend at a Mustang dealership and asked if they were looking for a transmission tech. Turns out they were, and they brought her in. She made the same proposition, and this time, the upper management agreed. Soon enough, she was a certified transmission tech, churning out great work.
This story is just a quick example of the kind of great results that come when technicians are actually valued and appreciated for what they’re worth. It is not easy to find qualified technicians, and it is even harder to retain them. But turning that around is actually a straightforward process. Technicians should be given the necessary tools, training, and support to do their jobs effectively. They should also be treated with respect and given the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions without fear of retribution.
Moreover, the automotive industry needs to be more inclusive and diverse to attract more qualified candidates, including women. Morris’s story also sheds light on the challenges that women face in the industry. According to the US Department of Labor, only 1.6% of automotive technicians and mechanics are women. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by providing equal opportunities for women in the industry and encouraging more women to pursue careers in automotive repair.
In conclusion, the automotive industry needs to recognize and value the contributions of auto repair technicians. Recruiting and retaining technicians is crucial for the success of any dealership or service center, and this can only be achieved by creating a supportive and inclusive work environment. Kayce never should have been fired in the first place, but she’s glad she was. If it weren’t for that wrongful termination, she never would have ended up at her current job, where she feels supported, makes more money, and has more room for advancement than ever before.
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