I visit many dealerships over the course of a year. Many times, the first topic of discussion involves technicians. I hear things like, “I can’t find them” or “I can’t keep them from keep quitting.” Then I happen to visit a dealership that has plenty of techs and more waiting to come on board. When talking to the service managers who don’t have techs and can’t seem to hire them, the excuse is typically pay scale. However, I have found that not to be the case in most circumstances—dealers are attuned to the pay scale in the area.
The next request from me is usually this: show me around your service department. I often find dirty, dimly lit floors covered in oil and in need of repair, as well as lifts that are very old and greasy. Computers are the old ones from the variable department (they all received new ones and passed the old ones to service). The special tool room is in disarray, and it takes 30 minutes to an hour to find the tool for the job. A lot of equipment used everyday is in need of repair or doesn’t work at all. The parts department is understaffed and if the phone happens to ring, techs have to wait for parts. The Internet structure is so bad that when programing a vehicle, it stops many times and the tech has to start over.
Let’s talk about dealerships that get it. The floors are clean with good lighting. The lifts are all in good working condition and safe. The techs have laptops that are up to date and meet or exceed all OEM requirements. Internet structure is in place to support the high speed data required for today’s vehicles. The special tool room is in order and organized. All dealership equipment is working and up-to-date. The parts department supports service with proper staffing, delivering parts to work bays, and if the phone happens to ring, another person answers it or takes a message.
The average technician is worth $175,000 gross profit per year. Our technicians are some of the most valuable employees we have, and the cost to hire and retrain them is substantial. Yet, many hours are lost every day because of the conditions under which they work. It’s not always about a raise; it’s about supplying them with the tools to turn production hours. Technicians do want a fair wage, but more importantly, they want the opportunity to produce in an environment that doesn’t hold them back.
Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees. It’s all about production. Don’t know where to start? Does your dealership have the customers, but lack techs or cannot get the work out? It’s time for an evaluation. At M5, that’s our business.