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Combatting The Automotive Technician Shortage with Shop Efficiency

Even with a pandemic-induced decrease in miles driven by individuals and businesses, the auto industry continues to face a shortage of technicians. While this shortage is in no way confined to the automotive sector, other industries have been able to supplement their workforce through remote solutions. Shop owners, however, require technicians to work in person, and the current shortage is only predicted to get worse. 

Through the combination of entry-level compensation, challenging working conditions, and limited employee development, many technicians are leaving their current shops in favor of better opportunities. To make sure your shop can attract and retain this talent, you’ll have to address these issues head-on.

Bottom line: combatting the automotive technician shortage starts with shop efficiency. 

Training and Development

Most people, particularly those of the younger generations, point out training and development as important factors in choosing a job. One study finds that 86% of millennials would stay with a company that offers ongoing growth opportunities. 

In addition to retention, training and development practices also increase employee engagement, boost their trust in a business, and lead to greater profits margins. When given the opportunity to learn and sharpen one’s abilities, most employees perform better. 

For auto shops, development and training can take many forms. An obvious yet effective tactic would be to set up weekly or monthly training sessions for techs where they can acquire new skills. You might also consider implementing software that gamifies training, providing incentives for completing certain tasks. 

Some of the most successful shops create individualized development plans for their techs. These plans allow employees to see a clear path forward with your shop, and they’ll increase the likelihood of their retention and efficiency in their work. 

Steady Compensation

A big part of the automotive technician shortage involves compensation (or lack thereof). In the wake of the Great Resignation––during which many workers collected augmented unemployment checks and forged new career paths––shop owners should reexamine how they compensate their workers. 

Auto techs not only spend a good chunk of their paychecks on tools that are necessary for performing their jobs but they’re also bound by the flat-rate model of pay. To provide techs with greater security, you might consider implementing a model of hourly pay with production-based incentives. This will still compel them to be efficient in their work while providing a safety net of hourly pay during slower times. 

Even with hourly pay, you’ll still want to be sure you have a steady flow of cars entering your shop. By implementing an efficient workflow, you can ensure that techs are getting the pay that they need and customers continue to get optimal turnaround times on repairs.

Improved Working Conditions

For independent auto shops, creating and implementing standards for working conditions is a key element to recruiting and retaining solid techs. This applies to not only your facilities but also the way in which your workers are organized. If you’re still using whiteboards or paper invoices in a poorly lit environment, then you’ll want to consider what this says about your shop––both to employees and customers. 

The first step is easy. Make sure that your shop is both clean and safe for anyone who enters it, and develop a regular sanitation schedule if necessary. Additionally, you might consider utilizing a software solution for either digital vehicle inspections or more general workflow management. 

These digital tools not only convey a degree of professionalism, but they can also make your shop run more efficiently. 

The Answer to Shop Efficiency 

The key to attracting and retaining talent is to create an efficient work environment, one that maximizes growth opportunities for employees while providing both them and the owner with sufficient revenue. 

The keystones of shop efficiency can be broken down into three areas:

  • Equipment: While only a bad workman blames his tools, better tools can certainly make work more efficient. Try to make sure your team has access to the best, both when working on cars themselves and when documenting said work.
  • Training: Whether a person is a tech, service advisor, or manager, everyone can always improve in their roles. By providing regular training, you can ensure optimal performance while offering employees a path forward with your shop.
  • Consistent car count: The most skilled team of auto technicians will be worthless without a consistent influx of customers. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure your outreach and marketing efforts get clients in the door. 

Luckily, state-of-the-art software solutions have hit the market that makes this transition a breeze. With the help of AutoVitals, auto shops of any size can work more efficiently through the use of strategic digital solutions. 

With their Digital Vehicle Inspection software––the first of its kind––techs can ditch their clipboards and administer car inspections through a tablet. By taking photos of problem areas and noting them, techs can digitally relay information to a service advisor, who will then pass it on to the customer. This process works more efficiently than paper records, and it simplifies the storage process.

AutoVitals also offers Workflow Management Software that helps optimize shop operations. In addition to inspections, this tool can help supervisors manage technicians right from the counter, monitoring each task and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. This software also keeps individual profiles for each customer, allowing you to easily reach out when regular maintenance is needed, bringing additional business into your shop. 

Efficiently run auto shops not only generate greater revenue but also attract and retain the best automotive technicians. The answer to the automotive technician shortage and the new era of customer service is software solutions provided by AutoVitals. 

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