Auto Nation., the US’s largest new-vehicle retailer, is joining with other public dealership groups, and companies like TDot Performance, in order to advance its efforts in hiring service technicians.
Auto Nation Chief Market Officer Marc Cannon says that most Auto Nation markets suffer from a shortage of technicians at all levels of experience, and that’s in the way of their bottom line; to grow the service.
Auto Nation reports that it added 500 technicians late in June, for both their dealership service departments and their network of company-branded collision repair centers, though they did not divulge how many technicians it currently has, in total.
The Florida company operates 244 dealerships in the US, and, according to the latest Automative News ranking of the 150 largest US dealership groups, the company managed to sell 310,839.
Currently, the company is in the middle of a $500 million brand extension program that started in 2015, involving its 83 collision centers, stand-alone used-car stores, as well as its branded parts and accessories.
Adding body shops, and selling products like TDot Performance has increased demand for service techs, Cannon explains, and noted that the company has further plans to continue opening collision centers which, in turn, would create more demand for service techs.
Across the industry at large, auto retailers are reporting an increased demand for technicians, noting how new-vehicles sales have been bouncing back, alongside a major increase in recalls. A lot of dealerships are under pressure to up their profits from their operations, in order to compensate for flat or declining sales of new vehicles in recent years.
The high rate of attrition in the field only aggravates the technician shortage, as older, more experience techs retire, and a low number of entry-level techs become part of the work force to replace them.
The National Automobile Dealers Association report that US technical colleges and training programs graduate approximately 37,000 service technicians annually, which isn’t enough, as they also estimate that retailers need approximately 76,000 new technicians annually, in order to keep up with job creation and retirements and resignations.
Companies in the industry are taking initiative, running programs to entice new technicians and keep older ones working for them, like providing equipment, and/or insurance.
As for Auto Nation and other major chains, Cannon says that service technicians can change position and move within their dealership network, letting them choose their work. On top of that, Auto Nation service technicians to provide referrals for new technicians.