Addressing the Technician Shortage with Innovative Training Solutions

Addressing the Technician Shortage with Innovative Training Solutions

Drawing on extensive industry experience, the team at DealerPRO Training has developed a program that exposes technicians to future career opportunities in fixed operations as well as executive positions.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)’s latest findings, the technician shortage has reached critical levels, with an anticipated shortfall of 80,000 technicians by year’s end. The association reports that three technicians will exit the workforce for every new technician who enters. Ouch. 

It’s a rare dealer who hasn’t been affected by the technician shortage. And the deficiency disrupts not just the service department but the entire dealership. Extended wait times for service appointments frustrate customers and can lead to a decline in satisfaction levels. Compromised service quality due to understaffed service departments can damage customer trust and loyalty, ultimately impacting dealership profitability.

Recognizing the urgent need for a solution, Don Reed, president of DealerPRO, and his team embarked on a mission to address the technician shortage head-on. Drawing on their extensive industry experience and insights from dealership clients, Reed and his team developed the Technician Career Path (TCP) training program.

Within the program, each entry-level employee is given a plan to become a full-time certified technician and is paid for working at the dealership while receiving the training. There are also opportunities for financial assistance with tool purchases, ongoing education and certifications.

The TCP program exposes technicians to future career opportunities in fixed operations and executive positions such as shop foreman, service manager, fixed operations director and even general manager.

Build Your Team from Within

In today’s environment, the swiftest and most cost-effective way to expand a dealership’s staff is to grow them from within by taking promising team members and providing them with the training they need to succeed.

The innovative Technician Career Path program builds your team while improving employee retention because it allows your staff career advancement. By taking “D” level techs and training them up to the “C” level, the TCP develops technicians from the dealership’s internal staff and encourages them to make their future
within the dealership.

The TCP provides employees with a roadmap to a career progression within the dealership, and shows technicians the advancement opportunities they can work toward in a well-planned, orderly ladder of achievement.

Combating High Turnover and Boosting Productivity

The high turnover of technicians is compounded by the fact that hourly technicians are currently averaging a productivity rate of only 32%, which translates to approximately 2.6 hours sold per day for each technician. When considering a technician who earns $18 an hour at this productivity level, the cost to the dealership effectively rises to $56 per hour sold. Furthermore, it’s notable that most dealerships lack a performance incentive plan for their hourly technicians, potentially contributing to low productivity and high turnover rates.

Recognizing these challenges, the TCP training program aims to address the core issues head-on. The program’s ultimate goal is to boost their productivity to 100%. This not only increases overall shop productivity but also offers technicians valuable in-dealership training without the need for travel, thus reducing expenses. Additionally, by providing a clear career path for “D” technicians, the program seeks to motivate and retain talent within the industry.

The benefits of participating in this training program are substantial. Over the course of five days, technicians receive in-depth in-dealership training from a TCP trainer, complete with training manuals for all attendees. The program also includes one-on-one coaching sessions to ensure personalized attention and guidance. Furthermore, dealers have the option to access a special entry-level tool plan, enhancing the resources available to their technicians. Upon completion of the training, attendees are awarded a certificate, marking their progress and recognizing their commitment to advancing their skills within the automotive industry. This comprehensive approach not only improves technician competency and productivity but also contributes to a more stable and efficient workforce.

Tools to Succeed

Recruiting and retaining skilled technicians has become increasingly difficult, exacerbating the shortage and creating a vicious cycle for dealerships. Technicians will often leave a dealership for another that offers more pay and better incentives. Responding to this, DealerPRO launched a comprehensive retention program as part of the TCP, integrating a tool plan to strengthen employee loyalty and retention.

Tools are essential for performing automotive repairs and maintenance tasks efficiently and effectively. A beginner’s tool set can cost thousands of dollars — money that often isn’t in a young technician’s budget.

As a prime incentive to stimulate training completion and ensure long-term dealership commitment, DealerPRO partnered with Sonic Tools to provide technicians who complete the training and maintaining 24 months of continuous employment with the tools they need to succeed.

The inclusion of Sonic Tools in the program serves as a critical component of a technician’s success. By offering a comprehensive tool program, dealerships demonstrate their commitment to the career success of their technicians and provide them with the resources they need to excel in their roles. Moreover, the tools program has proven to be a powerful recruiting tool, attracting technicians from neighboring dealerships who recognize the full benefits of working for a dealership that invests in their career development.

The Road Ahead: Closing the Gap

As the automotive industry continues to grapple with the technician shortage, DealerPRO’s Technician Career Path training program emerges as a beacon of hope. By empowering dealerships to cultivate their technicians from within and providing them with a clear career path, the program not only addresses immediate staffing challenges but also sets dealerships on a path to long-term success. With the integration of Sonic Tools and a commitment to technician development, DealerPRO is revolutionizing the way dealerships approach the technician shortage and is ensuring a bright future for the automotive industry.

Several dealerships that have implemented the TCP program have reported significant success. Not only has the program helped them address immediate staffing challenges, but it has also had a positive impact on recruitment and retention. By offering technicians a clear career path and opportunities for advancement, dealerships have become attractive destinations for prospective employees.

The technician shortage is a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. Dealerships that invest in their technicians and provide a clear career path will not only bridge the technician gap but will also build a team of skilled, loyal professionals who will drive their success in the ever-evolving automotive industry. The career path is a roadmap to a brighter future for the automotive industry. It’s a journey that begins with attracting the right talent and continues with nurturing and retaining them every step of the way. The road ahead may be challenging, but with the right strategy and a commitment to excellence, dealerships can ensure that they have the skilled technicians they need to thrive in the years to come.

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