Technician Shortage? Where is Supply and Demand?

Michael Mobile Technician Utah Posted   Latest  

I have a friend named Marvin Ray who runs the Mechanic Alliance. mechanicalliance​.​com His goal is to help shops create an environment where technicians can thrive. He sent me a link this morning. This is an article talking about the NADA and what they are doing to assist in filling positions at the dealerships. autonews​.​com/dealers/nada-t…. I am not so sure that the article is being completely honest about what the "average" dealer tech makes. It also makes it sound like the benefits dealers are offering are something to look forward to. I suppose I could be out of touch on this subject. I have not worked for a dealer in 20 years. When I was there you had to pay the bigger portion of the health insurance. Wages were dismal and there was little customer pay work. Maybe things have changed. My observation from visiting dealer shops local to me supports that they are stretching the truth. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I do like that the NADA is working to give technicians more access to training. I believe that their intentions are good. In a world where a modest home is $250K plus, a pickup truck is $50K plus and fuel is looking like $4 a gallon, the wages for skilled workers need to move up. The motoring public will need to step up and be willing to pay.

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Terry Diagnostician
Florida
Terry Default
 

Michael, I usually don’t chime in on topics about the Technician shortage, as I feel my voice will fall on deaf ears, as it were. Here’s my take on it. I read the article that NADA put out, as you said, I don’t know how accurate the findings are, but I do know the shortage of qualified techs. Maybe, just maybe it’s the way the industry pays quality techs? Meaning, I believe the antiquated way…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Terry, Your words are greatly appreciated. Many of us are tired of the sugar coating being put on the life of a technician. Flat Rate is great for estimating repairs at the front counter. It does not translate to meticulous work. Until shop owners, dealership management and all other decision makers see the technician as their equal it will never be resolved. Additionally, the pay structure…

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Ohio
Rex Default
 

Get a months membership to IATN, the site this evolved from. Topic is beat to death over there. IMHO until the dealer groups push back hard on what OEMs pay for repairs the situation at the dealer level is just going to get worse. I can believe your shop owners numbers. His number one and two advantages are that he is not losing 20% or more of his production to underpaid warranty work. He also…

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Ohio
Rex Default
 

Opps, pushed the button to soon. In the dealer environment the 6 techs are going to need 1 full time person to deal with warranty. Getting authorization for the repair, submitting required diagnostic steps to get authorization, submitting claim, filing appeal on short pay or rejection. He and his team can fix car, make customer happy and get paid. It took me a long time to realize that when I am…

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Scott Manager
California
Scott Default
 

Fyi, you can always edit your posts here.

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Ohio
Rex Default
 

Scott, now I see that! Thanks

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Rex, Thanks for your comments. For the technician, the dealer environment is tough. You get hired at let's say $30 per hour. Sounds decent, then you are handed warrantee work. Now you are working for $15 per hour. Wow, I could work at In and Out, have benefits and retirement. I can work up to manager and make $80K a year. No tool expense, no loan repayment. IMHO top technicians need to be…

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John Owner
California
John Default
 

OK here's my pitch in this discussion; I'm in favor of strong wages for good, strong technicians willing to do the right thing for the guest and their vehicle. In our Huntington Beach California independent workshop, we work in the team environment where an A level tech is the mentor to a couple B level techs and a C level tech or 2. The A tech is the team leader and his role is to help the B…

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Rudy Technician
California
Rudy Default
 

How do you deal with diagnostics? A shop of your size must get alot(I Googled you)

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Ohio
Rex Default
 

Hmmm, I will have to see what google shows. We are not very big. Currently I have 3 techs plus myself. I do a lot of the diag. I like it and consider that to be my prime duty. My foreman/leadtech has learned a lot in the last few years. He is over 50 and never touched a computer until he came to me 5.5 years ago. He does have very high drive when it comes to get it fixed. Once he got it thru his…

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Rudy Technician
California
Rudy Default
 

Rex I was asking John Gustafson. Apologize for the confusion.

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John Owner
California
John Default
 

The A level techs (team leaders) are master techs and they manage the diagnostic duties. They then either make the corrections or pass them to a team member and move to the next diagnostic. The method really works good & the B and C techs learn too.

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Terry Diagnostician
Florida
Terry Default
 

John, that’s another good, feasible way to compensate techs! Ive tried the 3 man team, much like a dealership. In our case, it did not work very well, partly in fact that I had ”lazy” and not motivated to strive to better the team as a whole. So, what i Found out, was the weaker techs just rode the shirttail of the productive tech. Long story, short, in our shop it didn’t work very well, too…

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John Owner
California
John Default
 

Hey Terry, Each shop will have a different personality based on the leadership style and make up of the team. That's what keeps it interesting. I think the shops that will thrive going forward will embrace leadership training and team building through a culture based on continuous learning. Easier said than done but . . . .

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Gary Owner/Technician
Maryland
Gary Default
 

Rex, I totally agree. And I totally agree with Terry too. Look at the diag procedure and road test required to run some of these OEM "diagnostic charts". For example: On a vehicle with AFS rationality/imbalance codes it calls for a warm up, idle period, a minimum 20 MINUTE ride at 50mph or over, (which also means 20 miles BACK!) Then, another idle period, check 2 different data lists for…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

Flat rate isn't the problem. I did nearly 30 years in dealerships and independents. I ALWAYS made money on flat rate. You do need to hustle and be accurate but reasonably a decent flat rate technician should be able to produce 50 hours a week working 40. Paying salary with incentives as I do now owning the shop has made my techs money but has nearly put me under because they do not produce. And…

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Chris Diagnostician
Maryland
Chris Default
 

How much labor did you charge for that job? I looked it up and its about 5 hours. So if it only took him 3.5 hours how did you lose money? Sounds like more issues than the techs should be paid flat rate or not.

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Terry Diagnostician
Florida
Terry Default
 

Great point Chris! I’m with you on that!

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

There were other things done on the vehicle. The only things left were securing the P/S hose clamps and filling the system, finishing the 1/2 done park cables and installing the pan and filling the trans. Like I said 2 hours at most.

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Rudy Technician
California
Rudy Default
 

Im sorry to say but your story sounds like poor business management. How much business training/classes have you had?

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

Well lets see; besides my background in dealership service where I not only repaired them as a Master Technician but also was a service adviser, shop foreman and dispatcher, I took quite a few business management courses at night. I also did a year with repair shop coach. If as you claim it's poor business management, then please explain how you can get technicians to produce and be accountable…

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Scott Owner/Technician
Ontario
Scott Default
 

I hear ya being an owner. I haven’t tried it yet but the only answer I can come up with is to give them a piece of the action . There is no fix for tech shortage the future generation doesn’t work like we did . Our job is still labour , some technical but for the majority of cars that role in you need a good pair of hands . Now this is changing but with all the bs that comes with the culture…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

I have no children but I do agree.

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Rudy Technician
California
Rudy Default
 

If the technician finished the job below book time and you lost money on the job and cant figure out why,my limited knowledge isn't going to help. Keep going with those business classes,youll get there......

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

That's the point. The technician/s take way over the book time. It's lack of production. This is why you need a production based system like flat rate. I have been doing this since 1981. Flat rate with a guarantee keeps you honest and hungry as a tech. It also makes sure the shop makes money as well and doesn't go under. The more money I make, the more a tech makes along with better benefits etc.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Michael, I have a question for you. Do you think that the techs taking over book time is because they are lazy?, Book time not figured correctly?, Side tracked by other responsibilities? There could be many reasons why. Other industries pay hourly and it seems to work out. Plumbers, Electricians, Welders are all paid hourly. They also get benefits and overtime. How could we pay hourly with…

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Justin Mobile Technician
Utah
Justin Default
 

Exactly right Mike. There are many other variables in play to make it a fair system on flat rate. Too often techs are pulled off one job in favor of another mid thought. Book times that aren’t correct for the time required with no thought to ever striving away from the times printed in someone else’s book. The flat rate could work if all jobs were of the book time variety ie water pumps…

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Chris Diagnostician
Maryland
Chris Default
 

Besides Auto techs and Body techs is there any other trades that use a flat rate system?

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
   

Michael, Since we are comparing automotive repair to other industries, over the years I've worked with electricians, plumbers, HVAC and carpenters. They walk in to the job with a bag or two of tools and usually have an apprentice helper who brings in the parts they need. They start the job, working together as a team, the master making sure the apprentice is either working at his level somewhat…

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Bob Owner/Technician
Massachusetts
Bob Default
 

Eric, I have noticed over the years that bad attitudes and poor work habits can be contagious. If the example being set in the front office or by the shop manager is lousy, it will infect all the techs working in the shop.

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Terry Diagnostician
Florida
Terry Default
 

Bob, and everyone; this has been a great sounding board for our industry. What started as a Tech shortage issue, I’m finding from all the different posts, that the shortage is really coming from the individual shops around the nation! A lot of the “shop” problems are feeding the overall shortage problem. I’m taking a lot of each posts and looking how I can make my shop and better work…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

If you look back at my 1st post, you'll see that I paid overtime this past Saturday to my tech. He made 45 per hour for 4 hours while producing about 2. Do you know what that does to my profitability? I also offer benefits with the exception of medical simply because I cannot afford to due to lack of production. To answer your questions, in some cases yes, it is laziness or just lack of…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Michael, A few follow up questions. When your tech flagged 2 hours but was there and paid for 4 hours. Was he spending time working with customers? Cleaning the shop? Other shop related work? Was his presence required after work was complete? Was there a reasonable reason for the extra time? Flat rate with a guarantee. Please map this out as it could be interpreted and implemented different…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
   

To answer your questions: No, Never, No, No and no. Flat rate with a guarantee came out of working in union shops. I received between a 35 and 40 hour guarantee as long as I was there for 40 hours. The lowest Guarantee I ever heard of was 30 hours, the highest 50 which was the only reason that GM and other techs remained at their dealerships since all they usually did was warranty work. As far…

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Rudy Technician
California
Rudy Default
 

Hmmm again this really sounds like a management issue. You are trying to instill a work ethic into individuals by utilizing their pay as a tool to do so. Im paid by the hour. I do not get 1 cent more for flagging more than 40 hours. Yet I consistently flagged over 40 when I started here(That has changed as my role in the shop and the shop environment has changed) You cant lay all the blame…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

I understand. The owner is evil so blame him and his management style. The prima donna tech is never to blame. If he can't produce so what. Let the shop go under. I am really sick and tired of this nonsensical B/S. Perhaps I should be a total hardass and start docking pay or not paying for f-ups? Perhaps I should send a tech home if he's 15 minutes late with no call or explanation? Even better…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hey Michael, Personally, I want your business to thrive. There is no trick question here. Having an open dialog about what you are experiencing could possibly lead to some ideas to improve your establishment. I ran a shop back in the 90s. I tried to do it all on my own. I would not listen to others. I walked away with a bunch of tools and no debt. Still it would have been nice to have some…

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Mike Technician
Missouri
Mike Default
 

Man, that's a nice clean shop.

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

As you well know there are numerous variables in running a shop including location, debt load, credit and overhead. While you can compare certain things/make certain judgements across the board, you can't compare everything.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Michael, You have a good point. Not everything is the same. I acknowledge that. Being an owner is not easy. What I am trying to get across is that when a potential employee looks at our industry then looks at other hands on type work, why would they want to work for us? We don't have enough confidence to pay technicians hourly or a salary. (stating this collectively not individually) Every…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
   

I disagree with the survey. Too many variables including location, local economy etc. need to be figured in. I am sure you've seen the articles about student loans. These people obtain degrees and then end up working for near minimum wage supposedly while carrying a boatload of student loan debt. However, as a flat rate technician with a guarantee, if you hustle and are accurate you can easily…

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Rudy Technician
California
Rudy Default
 

Its obvious you do not understand and from the tone of your last post, you have no intention in truly trying to. Apologize for wasting your time. Good day.

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

Honestly, in my opinion you don't understand because you've never worked on this side of the counter. Everyone thinks it's so easy and you'll be rolling in money. It's not and you wont. I suggest you open your own shop someday and think about this banter. Good day to you as well.

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James Technician
Florida
James Default
 

It's another feel good program for auto dealers. He asked "If you could, would you hire a trained technician today?" Gilchrist asked his NADA Show audience. Hundreds and hundreds of hands went up, in an auditorium full of dealer principals, dealership managers and employees, family members and industry service providers. Instead he should have asked "Are you willing to pay a top trained…

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

So as an old tech can't you plead senility and get downgraded to a B tech? Seriously though, in the dealer environment is an A tech able to move back to a B level tech or is there something in place to prevent that?

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

I did see it happen a few times because techs weren't class A capable. I never saw it where a tech wanted it though because it usually drops their hourly rate as well.

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James Technician
Florida
James Default
 

Maybe your hourly rate will drop 3 or 4 dollars per hour but you can flag 60 - 70 hours instead of 30 - 40. Which way gives you a higher paycheck?

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

Good point. It depends on your shop and the management.

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Lane Mobile Technician
Kentucky
Lane Default
 

Very well said Mr. Avery! No sugarcoating in that response, only truth, thanks.

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Rex Technical Support Specialist
Ohio
Rex Default
 

Here is a link that shows how NADA really feels. All the way to the Supreme Court. hollandhart​.​com/service-adviso… I know service writers are not techs but who has more contact with the customer after the sale? That's how they really feel. James is right. No hands would go up if asked id they would pay for the skills they say they want and need.

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Ed Service Manager
New Mexico
Ed Default
 

Very well said James as always!

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Billy Mechanic
New Mexico
Billy Default
 

Started in this "soup" in '68 as a "sanding boy" at a dealership body shop. Saw just about every way to pay a tech that could be thought of. What would you think if you saw an ad that states "Looking for someone who will work in the weather,supply thousands of dollars of tools, take the blame for anything that goes wrong and willing to support 4 levels of management that will make more than you…

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Terry Diagnostician
Florida
Terry Default
 

Well said Mr​.​Hart Maybe there would not be a Technician shortage, if businesses paid up to qualifying techs. Paid for what most companies automatically assumes is the right thing to do. The higher ups in major car manufacturers, aftermarket companies and possibly governmental agencies need to help sell the to consumer of the skills needed To become an actual certified automotive…

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Sam Mobile Technician
Michigan
Sam Default
 

Mike, I also am unsure of the truth of the income figures. Like everyone else I have seen they are ignoring the problem. The problem is not training techs. There are many training opportunities for an ambitious tech. The problem is recruiting younger people to this profession. I am currently working with a few what I consider TOP aftermarket shops with some ideas of recruiting young people to…

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Matt Diagnostician
Minnesota
Matt Default
 

Supply and demand will work, because it has to. Evidently, demand isn't as strong as we think it is. Facilities that are losing talent and unable to replace it must still be getting by, and maybe they'll continue to. Maybe this tech shortage deal is not unlike the predictions of the repercussions of new technology flooding our bays. All this technology was supposed to drive shops to training…

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Bob Owner/Technician
Massachusetts
Bob Default
 

There are an endless number of problems in this industry and they are spread throughout all levels of the industry. I don't know if the industry as a whole will ever find common ground on solutions. If it were likely to happen, it would have already happened long ago. That being said, I think everyone needs to work on solving their own issues as best they can. Learn from others experience so…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Bob, Thank you for your comments. I too am debt free. I did not get there working on automobiles alone. I have had to work two jobs most of my adult life. I found that I made more working for tool and part manufactures than I did as a technician. I am a gearhead at heart. I would have rather made my living working with cars. My hope is that my effort for the benefit to the worker can make it…

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Sam Mobile Technician
Michigan
Sam Default
 

I always find it interesting the replies to a question like this. I call on repair shops as a mobile tech. I also provide training for equipment I sell. I am always amazed at the attitudes in a shop. From why would I test this? It is faster to throw a $30 part and see if it fixes it. then diagnose. I see why this makes sense to some techs. The problem is deeper though. They have not been trained…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

I think much of what you're saying has to do with your demographic. I have tried the apprentice route with little success as only one out of 4 left on their own. The other 3 I let go for various reasons. All were making far above minimum wage with the last one at 16.00. He lasted 6 months and then stopped showing up for work on time if at all. All 4 were sent to various training courses of which…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Michael, Demographics do make a difference. Maybe not as much as you would expect. I have had a great opportunity to travel the nation doing on-site shop training. This includes your area. The media makes it look like New Jersey is only city and an industrial wasteland. I found great places to eat, a fantastic culture and fields of Blueberries. I even found open spaces. Not even close to the…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
   

I pay extremely well. That has never been a problem. The problem I have is simple, lack of productivity. I understand your point about distractions. I rarely pull a tech from a job and/or have them waiting around. I prepare for jobs and generally have parts in stock to at least get a tech started. I also have 3 lifts with 1 technician and myself. When I worked for dealerships, I used to do a…

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Justin Mobile Technician
Utah
Justin Default
 

I think I know why you aren’t finding the help you seek. After reading a couple of your reply‘s to techs here I wouldn’t work for you.

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
   

I guess you're directing this my way. Thank's for the insult. All I can say back to you is if I am so bad and such a slave driving bastard who pays shit wages, mismanages my shop and treats the employees like crap, then why is it that 85% of my former employees ask for their jobs back? Can you answer that one? How about this one; if I am so badly managed then why is it that my reviews are…

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Justin Mobile Technician
Utah
Justin Default
 

It was directed at you. your response proves my point.

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
   

And your point is that you know absolutely nothing about me or my business but still chose to insult me. You also chose not to answer my questions. Interesting. Your response proves mine. Rather than insult me, perhaps if you know something I don't, share it. All I am seeing is the attitude that I as the shop owner am totally wrong in all cases all the time. Then nobody bothers to explain how…

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