What’s a Diagnostic Technician worth?
All too often I hear service managers complaining they can no longer find decent technicians, and yet the truth is that the skills shortage hasn’t simply appeared out of nowhere.
Let’s look at a dealership’s investment necessary to develop such professionals.
Take your best Technician who has at least ten years’ brand experience and consider the investment you’ve made in them. This may be through an apprenticeship scheme, and then ongoing participation in manufacturer training courses. With all this investment, you’d like to think that these guys will yield the highest monthly labour gross profit, but perhaps not. We usually find it’s the guys doing efficient maintenance work spinning the filters who achieve the greatest returns, meanwhile your most decorated techs are typically conducting the more complex diagnostic work, which can often be more difficult to recover labour, and all too often at a reduced manufacturer’s warranty labour rate.
This becomes a vicious circle, as we start falling into the trap of getting the apprentices to spin the filters to achieve the desired labour gross profit benchmarks we’re chasing, meanwhile we’re not developing them to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies. These guys then lose interest due to the monotony of service work, whilst you become more dependent on the few guys who have the diagnostic skills necessary to fix the more complex jobs. Apprentice retention rates will likely fall off as a result and the flow-on effect being that at some point you find you don’t have sufficient resources with diagnostic capability to ensure all vehicles flowing through the workshop are diagnosed correctly in the first instance. Ultimately your limited diagnostic resources become stretched, and you start seeing your fixed-right-first-time scores heading south. This obviously has a flow on effect to the bottom line as manufacturers now remunerate dealers according to how well you service your customers.
So how can we combat this?
Techs On The Move understands the challenges faced by today’s service managers. Indeed, the biggest challenge we face is finding highly skilled and experienced automotive technicians, just like you. They are out there, and Australia is still a pretty big drawcard offering the second highest quality of living in the world after Norway according to United Nation’s Human Development Index
However, the days of trying to acquire these professionals for a measly hourly rate are gone. Unfortunately promises of palm trees and our laid back lifestyle are no longer sufficient to entice the ever dwindling resource pool of highly skilled automotive technicians.
What’s the true value of your most experienced home-grown technicians, who know your product from bumper to bumper? (All things being equal, assuming they have a good attitude and are intrinsically motivated in doing their job). If you don’t know it now, then consider this. If they left tomorrow, could you replace them? If so, where would you get them from, what would be the costs associated with finding them? What would be the impact on the business (CSI scores etc.)? How long will it take you to bring another tradesman up to speed from another brand?
Techs On The Move’s sole purpose is finding highly experienced automotive tradespeople with experience and training at the highest level from other international markets. We don’t recruit locally, as we’re actively working to combat Australia’s skills shortages whilst assisting motivated individuals who are keen to experience working in Australia. All our tradespeople are what we like to call, ‘Plug and Play’, that is they’ll hit the ground running, know your product, and already possess the manufacturer training and experience you desire.
A skilled labour force are the foundations of any service department. If you have high staff turnover, then it’s likely you’ll be amongst the lower echelons of the CSI rankings. If you’re CSI scores are poor, then chances are your bottom line financials will be too. Don’t wait for your labour force to leave before assessing their value. Technology advances faster every day, and having strong diagnostic skills are critical to the efficient operation of any modern dealership.