With the auto industry facing a shortage of technicians, it’s important to do what we can to attract young technicians and keep them. After all, when the front end of the business slows down, it’s the back end that can keep your store afloat and profitable. But there are two main problems with getting young professionals into the automotive industry: image and barrier to entry. But with some dedicated work, you can overcome these issues and bring an influx of new, talented technicians into your dealership—starting with two simple steps.
Step One: Show Off a Little
One of the deterrents for young people entering the profession of Service Technician is the image they have in their mind of what techs are and what they do. For years, the media has portrayed Service Technicians as uneducated and covered in grease. Similarly, movies and TV shows portray service bays as oily, dirty places for old-timers making just enough to scrape by.
Pay is an easy one to dispute: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Automotive Service Technicians working at dealerships earned $44,280 per year, which can also be supplemented with overtime work. Plus, Service Technician positions are increasing at about the same rate as all occupations, and job prospects looking forward are very promising.
So, it’s up to us to change that narrative, because modern service bays are now more advanced than ever. Equipped with the right digital tools to streamline service, being an auto tech in the 21st century sounds a lot like being an engineer on Star Trek (minus the red shirts). And with all the new safety features being added to vehicles, like lane assist and blind spot warnings, vehicles are getting more technologically-advanced, which means more opportunities for your store. But all this being said, technical know-how and problem-solving skills are absolutely crucial now in the Service Department, and these are areas you can emphasize to draw in younger technicians.
Having the proper equipment can help make your service lane more appealing to younger people and the next generation of techs as well. Is your Service Department still using paper MPIs? Switching to digital not only makes the process faster and more user-friendly, using the latest technology can help change that antiquated image to one that’s sleek and tech-savvy.
There’s been a recent push to upgrade amenities for Service Technicians, too. Providing your techs with a nicer locker room or lounge with showers, beverages, snacks, etc. can go a long way toward improving conditions. Some have even installed big screen TVs and video game consoles for techs to use during breaks. And since we all know that word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising, if you cater to your techs the same way you cater to your customers, they’ll be more likely to talk up the profession.
Step Two: Make Onboarding Easy
Over the past century, vehicle engines have become more complicated, meaning there’s an increasingly higher barrier to entry for new technicians. On top of that, learning all the computer/program skills needed for the Service Technician job just makes it that much more complex.
This is why it’s necessary to implement a comprehensive, user-friendly software platform to minimize the learning curve. By making that aspect of the technician job as simple as possible, your new hires can concentrate on what they specialize in: diagnosing vehicle problems and fixing them. And by using fully integrated software products, your new hires should have a much easier time learning the back end of your business, allowing them to focus on their actual jobs.
The Bottom Line
Changing the image of what a Service Technician does and simplifying onboarding are the most important aspects of recruiting a younger generation of technicians. But overcoming the tech shortage takes more than accurately promoting the role—here are some other steps you can take toward this end:
- Keep a clean, well-organized shop
- Contact local schools about participating in career day or job fairs
- Maintain an engaging social media presence
- Provide amenities for techs
Work to obtain—and maintain—these goals, and you’re already well on your way to helping change the image of a Service Technician, which is crucial to encouraging people to consider it as a career. Since the automotive industry is still going strong, it’s important to do what we can to ensure we have adequate staffing to meet the needs of our customers.
Director of Professional Services