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New Car Sales are up. Good or Bad News for Repair Shops?


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I think this year will be a good one for the aftermarket. New car dealers have definitely been doing a better job of keeping the service business over the last 5 to 8 years with "free" maintenance coverage, but new car sales have been rebounding from a low of 10.5 million vehicles in 2009 to about 16.5 million vehicles in 2014. As many of the "free" maintenance coverages expire, I don't see the dealerships having enough bays to service these older vehicles. We saw a significant hole in the age of vehicles coming into our shop as a result (I believe) of the Cash for Clunkers program. We are starting to see an increase in the 2009 through 2012 model year vehicles coming into our shop which should continue for the next 2 - 3 years.

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I think Joe is right to be concerned. My goal is to get "everybody" within 3 miles of store to come in for something. May be tire repair, emissions test, oil change, bulb, etc. Then do my best to persuade them that if this visit was easier than going to new car dealer, why no make all visits easier by bring "all" work here.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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