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Tech Shortage: What are you doing to help shape our future?


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A topic that I’ve become more and more interested in is the future of our industry, specifically when it comes to Technicians.  I returned from the Spring Leadership Days in Orlando by Auto Care Association with an entirely new outlook, continuously reminding myself:  What can I do to help strengthen our future?

As I scroll through my Facebook feed, reading through various forums and private group comments, I constantly hear about the Technician shortage and have been over the past few years.

Does that raise any concern that we’re still talking about this after several years?  

As I read through the comments in hopes to find solutions, regrettably the majority of the comments are not solutions to the problem.  So, my hope is to find a solution and identify what action I can personally take to help strengthen our future and do my part.  I don’t want to spend anymore time talking about what we already know (tech shortage), and watch our industry reduce to rubble in the years ahead.  Not on my watch… and I know a lot of you are with me!  Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and months turn into years.  Let’s not wait!

As I visit shops around the country, which is my favorite thing to do, I notice a common pattern in the workflow.  Nearly 70% of the shops that I have visited in the past year have empty bays.  For example, a shop in the Bay Area I visited recently had 8 bays, but 4 were empty.  They had 2 Technicians, who both told me they’re extremely busy and this has become the “norm” until they hire more Technicians.  

Of course, the owners have “tried everything”, but what does that mean?  Have they really tried “everything”, or are they looking for a band-aid to fix the short-term problem and not thinking about a long-term solution and preparing for the future?  

Shops are busy right now and business is booming for most.  So even though they have the Tech shortage issue on their minds, it’s less of a priority right now because they’re busy!  It reminds me of what one of my favorite industry coaches (and friend) told me one time about “Panic Marketing”. Business slows down, then we expect our marketing company to step up some SEO or Ads and get cars in today, when in reality you have to plan out your marketing 6-months or a year in advance.  

So what do we do when we have empty bays and a Tech shortage?  Many will simply place an Ad on Indeed, cross their fingers and hope for immediate applicants! That quick-fix strategy will never work.  But what will?  

There are shops out there with effective strategies that actually work well.  Look at what they’re doing and get some ideas.  Joe Marconi has some awesome tips on hiring great people.  Having worked directly with Joe, I’ve seen the success firsthand.

But for me personally, I’m more interested in the long-term and getting the “younger generation” interested in our trade.  I think this will help shape our future.  But how do we do this?  Someone once told me, if every shop ran an Apprenticeship program, this would help solve the problem.  

Is that the silver bullet?  If not, what is?  

 

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On 6/7/2022 at 3:22 PM, Mike DelaCruz said:

A topic that I’ve become more and more interested in is the future of our industry, specifically when it comes to Technicians.  I returned from the Spring Leadership Days in Orlando by Auto Care Association with an entirely new outlook, continuously reminding myself:  What can I do to help strengthen our future?

As I scroll through my Facebook feed, reading through various forums and private group comments, I constantly hear about the Technician shortage and have been over the past few years.

Does that raise any concern that we’re still talking about this after several years?  

As I read through the comments in hopes to find solutions, regrettably the majority of the comments are not solutions to the problem.  So, my hope is to find a solution and identify what action I can personally take to help strengthen our future and do my part.  I don’t want to spend anymore time talking about what we already know (tech shortage), and watch our industry reduce to rubble in the years ahead.  Not on my watch… and I know a lot of you are with me!  Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and months turn into years.  Let’s not wait!

As I visit shops around the country, which is my favorite thing to do, I notice a common pattern in the workflow.  Nearly 70% of the shops that I have visited in the past year have empty bays.  For example, a shop in the Bay Area I visited recently had 8 bays, but 4 were empty.  They had 2 Technicians, who both told me they’re extremely busy and this has become the “norm” until they hire more Technicians.  

Of course, the owners have “tried everything”, but what does that mean?  Have they really tried “everything”, or are they looking for a band-aid to fix the short-term problem and not thinking about a long-term solution and preparing for the future?  

Shops are busy right now and business is booming for most.  So even though they have the Tech shortage issue on their minds, it’s less of a priority right now because they’re busy!  It reminds me of what one of my favorite industry coaches (and friend) told me one time about “Panic Marketing”. Business slows down, then we expect our marketing company to step up some SEO or Ads and get cars in today, when in reality you have to plan out your marketing 6-months or a year in advance.  

So what do we do when we have empty bays and a Tech shortage?  Many will simply place an Ad on Indeed, cross their fingers and hope for immediate applicants! That quick-fix strategy will never work.  But what will?  

There are shops out there with effective strategies that actually work well.  Look at what they’re doing and get some ideas.  Joe Marconi has some awesome tips on hiring great people.  Having worked directly with Joe, I’ve seen the success firsthand.

But for me personally, I’m more interested in the long-term and getting the “younger generation” interested in our trade.  I think this will help shape our future.  But how do we do this?  Someone once told me, if every shop ran an Apprenticeship program, this would help solve the problem.  

Is that the silver bullet?  If not, what is?  

 

Mike, I agree with you 100%!  You make a great analogy with what happens when business slows down and shop owners go into, as you say, "Panic Marketing." 

It is up to the shop owners to build the workforce of tomorrow. And we do need to get the younger generation interested in this amazing industry.

If half the shops in this great nation of ours started an apprenticeship program, we could solve the tech shortage in a matter of a few short years. 

 

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These are all great points. We have to remember that many of us would not be where we are today if it were not for an older shop owner giving us a chance.

I was hired as an entry tech when I was 20 years old at a two-bay gas station in the Bronx. I had no formal automotive mechanical education, just what I learned from my father and doing my own car.

At that age, I was no Ace, but I learned fast. In fact, 5 years later I had my own shop. I only bring this up because someone gave me the opportunity.

If we don't build for our future, no one will. 

 

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