A future viewpoint

Michael Owner/Technician Montague, New Jersey Posted   Latest  

I have been reading several different threads here and in other venues and there seems to be a consensus of certain things. 

  1. There is a shortage of qualified technicians
  2. ADAS and autonomous vehicles are going to change the way we do business
  3. BEV's are going to be taking over for ICE vehicles creating new opportunities

First off, This certainly does vary by region but I do see a lack of qualified people. I also see that among those that are qualified they tend to remain or gravitate toward dealership employment. Much of this has to do with their belief that they will make more at a dealership and/or get better benefits. Then there are those with attitudes who can fix a vehicle but feel they are gods gift aka the prima-donna. Before I go on, I am the first to admit I was one when I worked for dealerships. However, working for a dealership is completely different than working for a small independent shop. I don't have deep pockets like a dealership does where a mistake made costing a engine or trans for example is nothing. In my area I either pay on par or better than the dealership. I offer a 40 hour guarantee with an incentive plan for over 45, 50, 55 etc. hours produced. I also offer free uniforms, consistent training and decent benefits with the exception of medical. The main reason I do not offer medical is affordability. I would be happy to get a plan together for a employee if they could simply produce 40 hours or more a week which they do not do. I have thought about a flat rate program but I am hesitant to put one in place. I worked flat rate for many years myself. With only 2 exceptions which were both poorly managed, I made good money at all of them, averaging 50-55 hours per 40 worked with a very low rate of comebacks. Nowadays it seems everyone is afraid of flat rate. I have heard it called poison and have been told it's impossible for a tech to succeed. That's a discussion for another thread but honestly I disagree. In my opinion it rewards accuracy and speed. I do think that in the future we will no longer need the heavy line tech. I think there will certainly be a need for electronics techs. Will they be in this field? I don't know.

Regarding ADAS/Autonomous vehicles changing the way we do business, I feel that ADAS needs to be standardized, otherwise it will be impossible for nearly all independent service facilities to be able to fix them all. There are far too many variations and tools necessary at very high expense for a mom and pop store to be able to offer the service. The key in the future will probably be specialization in 2 or 3 brands or less. Autonomous vehicles will probably be serviced via a fleet type model. I really don't see them in the hands of owners without them going to dealers or being part of a fleet. This is especially true when discussing the millennials as most of them seem disinterested in driving or vehicle ownership.

As far as BEV's go, unless we can get greater range with lower charge times and the infrastructure necessary to get them charged, I don't see it. That's decades away especially considering that less than 5% of the fleet is BEV and most of that is in CA. I think we will see them taking over in cities gradually unless the city bans the use of ICE powered vehicles which will certainly speed up the process. Thoughts? 

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James Technician
Plant City, Florida
James
 

You disagree that flat rate is a failed system? Maybe you worked for a dealer during the fair days of flat rate. Now, with the manufacturers cutting repair times by 20 to 50% on many jobs, flat rate does not reward accuracy and speed anymore - it rewards theft and dishonesty. When times are cut so drastically, many techs that were honest feel that the manufacturer is being so dishonest with them…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
 

At this point I am referring to it in independent centers, not necessarily in a dealership setting. I do agree that the manufacturers are ridiculous. However, let me ask you this. I had a tech working for me which I lost. I was paying him more than what he made at the Honda dealer he was working at. He didn't need medical benefits so that wasn't an issue. He worked for me for a year, often…

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Justin Mobile Technician
Herriman, Utah
Justin
 

He left because money isn’t the biggest thing a guy looks for in a job. People quit bad management. Or asshole bosses.

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Chris Technical Support Specialist
Commack, New York
Chris
 

There is also a dynamic change in going from a single line dealer to an independent shop where there are multiple lines to deal with and typically not all of the OEM level tooling is available. It could be a difficult change to start learning all over again.

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Justin Mobile Technician
Herriman, Utah
Justin
 

True, although I’m betting his attitude towards techs is the real reason.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
   

Justin, you're extremely unprofessional in your remarks. I don't appreciate it and it's uncalled for. You don't know me as we've never met nor do you have any idea how I run my shop or have any idea what kind of person I am. This nonsense dates from a while back to another thread here. If you have a personal issue with me, I suggest you either take it up with DN management or hop a plane and…

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Rudy Technician
Montebello, California
Rudy
 

Perhaps Justin was a little harsh,but some times the truth hurts. I dont know you from a hole in the ground,but from the few posts Ive read by you here and in other threads,I know I would never come to work for you. Perhaps I am as wrong as Justin,but the tone of your posts make it seem like you have a bad attitude towards technicians and are constantly bad mouthing and laying the blame at…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
   

The same applies here as I told Justin. It's not harsh, it's unprofessional and uncalled for. It's also far from being pertinent in this discussion/thread. You even admit you don't know me. So just by the "tone" of my posts you're making a judgement. That's pretty narrow minded, don't you think? As far as laying blame at the feet of technicians, I AM a L1 Master Technician with over 30 years…

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Rudy Technician
Montebello, California
Rudy
 

Ok well,I dont need to own a shop to know a train-wreck when I see one. Im narrow minded anyways,so what does it matter what I think. Good luck guy. Sincerely wish you the best.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
 

Like I said, unprofessional and totally ridiculous. Then again personal attacks usually are. Seems to me you need to take a good hard look in the mirror before you talk shit about anyone else.

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Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick
 

Agreed this is why flat rate in the idependant world is a joke. You will see stuff you have never seen before and have to sit and research how the system works. Then you may never see it again. You have to have a passion for learning to enjoy the working on multiple lines

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
 

If you have flat rate with a guarantee of 40 hours, what's the difference Nick? In the latest edition of ratchet and wrench there is an article which states that 48% of shops who pay flat rate have techs that are 110% efficient or better while only 11% of shops that don't can say this. Now I've said this repeatedly, I do NOT currently pay flat rate nor have I ever. So let's not make this a flat…

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Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick
 

A guarantee is fine but what happens when the tech isn't billing 40 hours? How is that handled that makes a huge difference in everything. Flat rate is was personally kept me from hoping into this industry for a long time. Now majority of independent shops pay hourly in my area so I took the leap and made this my career. I've been offered employment by 3 dealerships and refused them all…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
   

What happens? That depends on why. If it's because of lack of work or because it can't be done in that time, that's one thing. If it's poor time management then I would attempt to work through it with the tech. Lack of knowledge?-training. If it's a situation where he or she just doesn't want to hustle or is disinterested, I would attempt to rectify that. If not, then we part ways. I do agree as…

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Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick
 

Grease monkey stigma definitely is a factor. Before k changed careers I did none destructive testing and quality assurance I said casting foundry, I made quite abit more than the product engineers. The problem is more than just "millennials" Shortage in skilled trades started before millennials entered the work force. Low wages, long hours and weekends and lack of respect all comes into…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
 

I agree that the problem is more than just millennials. However, the point I was making is that millennials haven't seen what happened to my generation or the previous generation as yet in regards to job loss etc.. Also while I have heard the "technician shortage" argument for about 20 years now, back then it was relatively easy to find a tech especially compared to now. Also 20 years ago, we…

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Bill Technician
Rosetown, Saskatchewan
Bill
   

Nick, In the dealer world they see issues not seen before on new vehicles.. Issues that have no fixes because proper solutions have not been conceived yet. Programming, Calibration, and parts quality tweaks done while dealing with engineers. Often this is unpaid time for technicians and dealerships. Time that they will never re coup. A loss they collectively absorb for the benefits of being in…

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Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick
 

You pay your doctor to learn on the job. Every other industry pays to learn on the job. The only way the customer will stop paying for our hard work and knowledge is if they are given a option. You are right about dealer techs getting screwed with problems on knew tech and not being paid. That isn't right at all. And should be illegal but it's not all due to the flat rate system. The service…

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Bill Technician
Rosetown, Saskatchewan
Bill
 

Nick, I believe the tech should always be compensated if they are working. I do not feel a customer should have to pay for incompetence though. We are professionals and training is part of the job. We would never get better if we didn't take time to learn. I feel the shop should be structured to compensate the tech as training for any job that takes an aimless path during testing or repair. I…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
 

Well said Bill.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
   

He went from a 40 hour guarantee at 26 per hour to no guarantee at 25 Chris. He never worked a weekend even though I asked him several times and I pay time and 1/2 for over 40 worked. We specialize in 3 makes for which I have OEM level tooling etc. I do agree with your statement about relearning. However, shouldn't he have thought of that before applying and why did he stay so long? The funny…

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Geoff Diagnostician
Lahaina, Hawaii
Geoff
 

In areas like mine, where people own 12-20 year old cars, and are the fourth owner' ADAS will never be fixed. ABS, TPMS, and SRS are rarely ever fixed now, ADAS will not be fixed in 15 years either. There's a whole bunch of "neato" stuff on new cars that the mobile guys and dealer techs, are fixing under warranty/insurance, but none of it will be fixed in ten years when the cost of the repair is…

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Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick
 

I agree with this 100%. I only see more and more folks holding on to old cars once they see this new technology when it's out of warranty. The only way for EV and autonomous vehicles to succeed is if the ownership is out of the consumers hands. The dealerships can't even keep up or handle how fast this stuff is coming out and their pool of qualified technicians is shirking faster and faster.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
 

The problem is on certain cars if you don't fix ADAS, it will be undriveable/unsafe to drive as if the calibration is off, it could steer or brake when it's not supposed to. I am not willing to take the chance and get sued.

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Sam Mobile Technician
Flint, Michigan
Sam
 

I personally think this industry requires a total overhaul. It will not happen in my lifetime. I am a mobile tech. I have worked flat rate, percentage, hourly plus percentage. I personally think they all have their flaws. I made the most money on percentage as it was parts and labor percentage. It also led to the highest cost of repairs. The flat rate I worked was only at the dealer. I hated it…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
   

While I do agree with some of what you've said Sam, many repair shops simply cannot afford to air condition their shop. Also if they do not own it, it can be a problem with the owner as their taxes may increase due to improvements the operator made. As far as well lit and heated goes that's normal. Clean? The techs need to do their part as well like making sure a wrapper or old part goes into…

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Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick
 

Your not flagging hours sweeping the floor. That book time doesn't include cleaning up after the repairs.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael
   

Perhaps it's just my work ethic or the fact that I am 57. Every single technician at every single shop I worked at was required to keep their area neat and clean including but not limited to cleaning up spills, mopping the floor weekly or more if necessary and/or sweeping up daily. My wife and I have been "Mommy and Daddy" to technicians since the start of my shop. If you can't take 5 minutes to…

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