Retaining Top Service Technicians: Strategies for Success

Published on October 16, 2023 by MustardHub Admin

The automotive industry is currently facing a significant dilemma: a growing demand for auto technicians coinciding with an expected shortage of workers. This dynamic presents a multifaceted challenge for the industry, impacting dealerships, independent repair shops, and service centers alike. 

On one side, the demand for auto technicians continues to rise steadily. Projections indicate a growing demand for technicians, with a need for an additional 46,000 techs by 2026, marking a 6% growth rate from 2016. 

Factors contribute to the increasing demand for Automotive technicians

  • Technological Advancements: Modern vehicles are equipped with increasingly complex technologies, from advanced safety systems to electric and hybrid powertrains. This complexity requires technicians with specialized knowledge and skills.
  • Aging Workforce: Many experienced auto technicians are nearing retirement age, leaving gaps in the workforce. As they exit the industry, the need for skilled replacements becomes more pressing.
  • Expanding Vehicle Ownership: The total number of vehicles on the road continues to grow, resulting in more cars and trucks needing maintenance and repair services.
  • Increased Vehicle Lifespans: Vehicles are lasting longer due to improved manufacturing and maintenance practices, necessitating ongoing servicing.

However, this heightened demand for technicians is met with an impending shortage of qualified workers. To complicate matters further, the industry anticipates a shortage of 20,000 to 25,000 technicians in the near future due to high turnover. 

Factors that contribute to the expected automotive labor shortfall

  • Educational Gaps: The automotive industry is evolving rapidly, with vehicles becoming more computerized and digitally interconnected. Many prospective technicians may not receive the necessary training to keep pace with these changes.
  • Aging Workforce (Again): As mentioned, the aging workforce is contributing to the shortage, and the rate of retirement is expected to increase in the coming years.
  • Inadequate Pipeline: There is a shortage of new entrants into the field, such as recent graduates from automotive technician programs, to fill the void left by retiring technicians.
  • High Turnover: The industry experiences a higher turnover rate, with entry-level techs frequently leaving their jobs. This churn adds to the shortage dilemma, as employers must constantly search for replacements.

In light of these challenges, the automotive industry needs to take proactive steps to address the growing demand for auto technicians and the expected shortage of workers. What can dealerships do to maintain a happy and motivated service technician team while avoiding the adverse impact of this technician shortage? 

Steps to take keep your auto workers happy

  • Investing in Training: Dealerships and repair shops can offer ongoing training programs to enhance the skills of existing technicians and help them adapt to evolving automotive technologies.
  • Recruiting from Trade Schools: Partnering with trade schools and technical programs can help attract and train new talent, bridging the skills gap.
  • Competitive Compensation: Offering competitive salaries, benefits, and job security can entice more individuals to pursue careers in the automotive field.
  • Modernizing Workplace Culture: Improving workplace culture by recognizing and appreciating employees’ contributions can boost morale and retention.
  • Easing Entry Barriers: Removing financial barriers for entry-level technicians, such as providing necessary tools and equipment, can make the profession more accessible.
  • Career Pathways: Establishing clear career paths and incentives for technicians can motivate them to stay in the industry and advance their skills.

Understanding the factors that contribute to technician dissatisfaction is the first step to success. Streamlining your repair department operations and focusing on key areas can help keep your service techs content and committed to your dealership.

Enhance Company Culture At Your Auto Shop

One of the biggest factors contributing to high turnover among entry-level techs is company culture. Technicians, like all employees, want to feel valued and appreciated. This new generation of workers is highly driven by workplace culture. In service-related roles, this need is amplified. Dealerships can foster a more inclusive culture by making simple gestures such as greeting employees and periodically checking in on their well-being. Recognizing and rewarding exceptional performance at team meetings and offering bonuses can significantly boost morale. MustardHub is an ideal platform to help auto shops attract talent, reduce turnover and transform their company culture into a destination for workplace happiness. Providing techs with comfortable amenities like well-equipped locker rooms and climate-controlled garages goes a long way in ensuring they can perform their duties comfortably.

Revise Your Auto Workers Pay Structure

Many service departments still adhere to a flat rate pay structure, which can be demotivating for techs. Under this system, techs are compensated based on predetermined labor time guides rather than the actual time taken to complete a job. Switching to an hourly pay structure eliminates this uncertainty and provides techs with financial security. Knowing that their income is stable, techs can focus on delivering quality work and are more motivated to come to work.

Remove Entry Barriers For Auto Workers

Facilitate the entry of new techs into the field by removing obstacles that deter them. Many new technicians invest in trade school education, and it’s important for dealerships to help reduce their financial burden. Consider providing a reasonable salary and offering to purchase their tools and equipment when they reach certain milestones, like working at the dealership for 120 days. This financial support can attract and retain new talent. In addition, dealerships can actively engage with local high schools through career days to identify and nurture potential talent.

The growing demand for auto technicians and the anticipated shortage of workers represent a significant challenge for the automotive industry. These strategies are essential in attracting and retaining top service technicians within your dealership. By implementing strategic measures, the industry can bridge the workforce gap and ensure that it has a skilled, motivated workforce to meet the increasing needs of vehicle owners.

It’s crucial to remember that a skilled and dedicated technician not only contributes to your dealership’s success but also enhances its profitability. The upfront investments made in these key areas can yield significant long-term benefits and help you build a robust and committed technician team.


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