Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F22
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
Dealerships will need technicians as pandemic subsides, business returns
ome technicians at franchised dealerships have been laid off, and those
lucky enough to still be turning
wrenches likely aren't getting the
work they did before the pandemic.
Whether they're not working or barely
working, techs still have bills to pay - rent,
car and tools, for starters. And now, faced with
the prospect of working on vehicles that might
have traces of the virus, some might not be too
eager to return to their service bay.
But concern over the auto retail industry's
critical need for more service technicians has
temporarily taken a back
seat as dealership service
business recovers from a
steep decline as a result of
the coronavirus shutdowns.
Once that recovery occurs,
the focus will return to the
tech shortage, experts say.
"I think the shortage is
still a shortage," Mike Hollenberg: May
Campbell, vice president of see less turnover
service and quality for Subaru of America, told Fixed Ops Journal.
Through April, Subaru's 634 U.S. dealerships
had a total of 7,476 technicians. Campbell
says the network needs a total of "closer to
12,000" in the next few years to keep up with
Holes to fill
At the end of 2019, franchised new-vehicle
dealers had a total of 267,087 technicians, including body shops, according to the National
Automobile Dealers Association.
To help fill those ranks, NADA said about
39,000 new service techs graduate from U.S.
technical colleges and training programs each
year. But the industry needs 76,000 techs an-
nually to replace those lost to attrition and to
meet new demand, the association says.
What effect the pandemic will have on those
numbers for 2020 and 2021 is still unknown.
There could be less pressure on hiring, says
Harry Hollenberg, managing director of Carlisle & Co., because some techs who might
have retired in 2020 will keep working and
some who might have left for other jobs will
"With almost 15 percent unemployment and
probably going higher, you're probably going
to see in the short term a reduction in turnover
at the technician level and probably a slight increase in the ability to attract new technicians
for dealers who still feel
they have capacity gaps,"
Bryan DeBoer, CEO of Lithia Motors, says if past experience is a guide, low oil prices
could mean techs could become available in energy-industry markets such as Texas.
"If you remember in 2008,
DeBoer: Oil price
may have impact 2009, 2010 ... our technicians who were out fixing
pump jacks came back to us and took their
$20- to $25-an-hour pay back instead of $50 to
$75 in the oil field," he said.
Meant to be driven
Pent-up demand is another factor that suggests techs will be needed once businesses reopen.
"Even if a customer is not in the market for a
new or a used car, they may be in the market
for maintenance since their car has been at
rest, or nearly at rest, for two months or longer," Subaru's Campbell says.
"I think there could be some pent-up demand for service maintenance. Cars are meant
to be driven."
How one service
his techs busy
Tim Betts, service manager for
Community Chevrolet in Meadville,
Pa., had to lay off three of his eight
techs were paid an
number of straighttime hours even if
there wasn't that
much work. "They
got an average of, like, 50 hours a
week, even if they only worked 12,"
Betts says. To keep his techs
working, Betts did three things.
1. Training: "We did some training.
Our training with GM is 387 percent
[of the required amount]. ... Most of
our guys are fully certified."
2. Prospecting: "We went through
the customer client list looking at
jobs that didn't get done when they
were in before, jobs they said at the
time they couldn't afford. Hey, we're
trying to make ends meet. So if it
was a big job, we would call them
and say, we'll take $500 off to bring
3. Service specials: "I've thrown
some ridiculous specials, like
$18.95 oil changes, that we post on
the digital sign outside, something to
catch people's eye and bring them in.
But it's actually worked!"
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F1
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F2
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F4
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F5
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Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F7
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Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F21
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F22
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