We asked fixed ops managers: How is the shortage of service technicians affecting operations at your dealership?
"It affects the time it takes to get a repair done. We've got three other GM dealers who are local, but we're the [only] one with a transmission technician. He stays backed up a week to two weeks out. If he's out sick or, Lord forbid, needs to take a vacation day, some customers are understanding, some are not."
AMANDA MENDENHALL, Service manager, Harry Robinson Buick-GMC, Fort Smith, Ark.
"Express maintenance is where we have our biggest turnover of technicians. That entry-level position, which is probably 60 percent of our business, has the least experienced technicians and it's tough from a wage standpoint. Let's say we pay those young men $15 an hour to start a career — they can be stuffing tacos down the street for $15 an hour with a lot less physical work. Trying to get them engaged to see the career path is challenging."
RUSS McDUFFIE, Service director, Michael's Automotive Group, Bellevue, Wash.
"I'm blessed in that our shop currently is fully staffed, but you can't rest on your laurels. We try to be proactive, but it's a challenge and it's growing more so. Our car lines don't provide for a factory training program for apprentice technicians. We have to grow our own or steal from other competitors, and with our three lines — Rolls-Royce, Bugatti and Bentley — those guys don't grow on trees. We try to keep at least one apprentice at all times."
JEFF POLLARD, Service and parts director, Post Oak Motor Cars, Houston
"I am reaching out for an experienced Mazda tech. I feel like sometimes I abuse my master technician, because he is my shop. I have three very young lube techs, and my B tech is transferring from another brand. I'm very picky with my technicians. It hasn't hurt us financially because I am proactive about training my techs."
NICOLE COCKCROFT, Service and parts manager, Headquarter Mazda, Clermont, Fla.
"I haven't hired a tech in over a year, and I haven't even looked. I got the bodies — it's the service advisers that are the biggest challenge. That's a hard candidate to fill, and it's been proven to be the most valuable position in a dealership."
BOB NANNETTI, Service director, Autocom Nissan East Bay, San Leandro, Calif.
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