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Will Technology Create Specialization in Auto Repair Shop Industry?


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In the long run, 10-15 years out I think the overall model of this industry will change significantly. Shops that stay ahead of the trend will prosper, those that don't will fight each other for the scraps. There is no money in not completely understanding how a system works and having the tools to properly diagnose and repair it. I think the industry is seeing this trend already. We do plenty of Hybrid work, we are the only shop that isn't a dealer around here that does complete HV rebuilds and replacements. We also invest heavily in specialty tools to service everything. As a result we get a lot of work from other shops that can't figure something out, even work from local dealers comes our way now and then (two in the shop right now).

 

The swap parts & change oil model is a fading one. In the long term, say 20 years out I believe even retail places such as Advanced, Autozone ect will need to rethink their business model as most people won't be able to do any repairs on their own vehicle or those repairs will be far to costly not properly diagnosed. As we know the later already happens.

 

Diagnostic tools are changing, the move of scan tools & repair data to work exclusively through J2534 and its successors is going to continue. Only shops willing to subscribe to those services and make the best use of the investment will continue to prosper.

 

Those are my thoughts, loosely put together.

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It seems every day you read about new technology or advancements in technology and electronics with regard to the modern and future automobile. With driver-less cars, hybrids, electric cars, hydrogen cars and other technological advances, will the repair shop business as we know it today be able to survive?

 

I am saying that there will not be a need for repair shops. There always will be. And there will be a bright future for those you keep pace with technology. What I am saying is this; Will shops be able to tool up and hire techs that are able to handle all the different technical areas of the future automobile?

 

Here's an example:, back in 50's, Transmission shops emerged and were a separate business from the traditional repair shop. Transmission rebuilding was a highly specialized business.

 

Could we see more specification in the future? We are already seeing this on some level with The Hybrid Shop.

 

Younger shop owners need to consider this and watch the trends and technology very closely.

 

Your thoughts?

I've been saying this for decades. I specialize in electrical systems and never got into engine swaps and trannys. It's a never ending change, but I think the trend is to individually specialized repair shops and not so much the "general" repair shops, even though there maybe a few left in the future.

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These are the reasons I've been aiming towards the brake/suspension/tire work. I feel that cars 20 years from now will still use ball joints, wheel bearings, and rubber bushings to hold up the computer under the hood. I do diagnostic work now and I'm pretty good at it, but I'm not going to continually invest in OE scan tools and updates just to go broke trying to fix a car. I'm not ignorant or afraid of change, its about diagnostic time profit/loss. Hopefully obd3 or obd4 will simplify things just as obd2 made diagnostics easier.

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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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