As part of its recent Automotive Service Manager Survey, Carlisle & Co. asked service managers from across North America to share their strategies for retaining technicians.
In 2021, Carlisle noted, 28 percent of technicians left their brand — adding these figures would be higher if they measured those who left the dealership, not just the brand.
Why is retaining techs important for dealerships? Well, as one service manager wrote in the survey: "Technicians are the single most valuable asset to any dealer, and I feel like many dealers do not understand this."
To emphasize that point, Carlisle estimated losing one tech costs a typical dealership $172,000 when considering lost production, lost revenue and the price finding a replacement.
The survey also revealed that the average dealership would hire about three additional techs if they could find them. Factoring in the 16,000 dealerships in the U.S. shows the industry is short nearly 50,000 techs.
But money alone is not a panacea. While tech compensation was the most common theme cited by service managers when talking about retention, other factors such as benefits, career development and workplace environment also were important.
Several service managers told Carlisle that offering benefits such as 401(k) match, insurance packages and no-interest loans for tools, for example, have been successful in keeping techs happy. Others have found providing no-cost training and outlining a career progression track for techs has also worked.
"By supporting technicians and encouraging them to grow within their role, service managers see greater job satisfaction and retention rates in their staff," Carlisle wrote.
Finally, a positive work environment can't be overlooked as an important reason techs stay.
"A happy technician is one who is more likely to return to work day after day, and service managers have found that creating a positive, respectful culture can help keep morale [and retention] high," Carlisle wrote.
Some things for dealership service departments to think about as they continue to battle tech retention issues.