An empty auto dealer service bay area illustrates the serious technician shortage.

What’s hurting dealerships more?
Lack of technicians?
Or lack of determination to avert the crisis?

Enough ink has been spilled on reporting, measuring and fretting over the current automotive technician shortage to fill a dump truck. While the solutions posed to address the crisis are many – and growing more far-fetched – very few address the root cause. On the release of WrenchWay’s Voice of the Technician Report, it’s time for dealers to take action on the real solution: Service Lane Technology.

The Technician Shortage Gets Serious

The technician shortage – the need for nearly 500,000 automotive techs over the next five years – is the greatest challenge facing the industry. Maintenance demand is skyrocketing. Even minor repairs can take months to finish. High turnover means finding capable replacements is next to impossible when the industry’s not regenerating quality candidates.

Admittedly, it’s not for lack of trying. TechForce Foundation, for example, is an online community and career hub that helps GenZ and Millennials connect to resources and job placements. Dealerships, meanwhile, are actively experimenting with new tactics. At the Automotive News Retail Forum at NADA 2024, workers’ desire for more flexibility came up multiple times. Dealers say slimming the workday by an hour or so slows employee turnover and boosts morale.

The Top 10 most important factors that today’s technicians consider when evaluating a move.

Unfortunately, tactics like these can’t possibly be expected to solve the severe technician shortage problem. The WrenchWay report asked respondents how likely they are to recommend the profession to a friend. A full 45% reported as detractors, resulting in a net promoter score of –24. Worse yet, 49% of respondents said they have considered leaving the industry altogether!

Empowering Technicians with Technology

Pay is a leading – but not the only – factor. The debate surrounding hourly pay versus flat rate is almost as old as the industry itself. Yet it’s increasingly become clear there is a potentially more critical consideration for technicians when evaluating their current or new employer: 98% rated proper equipment in the shop as the most important factor. Technicians are tired of grappling with outdated technologies and operational bottlenecks. Improving the inspection and repair process by equipping them with intelligent, intuitive and high-utility digital tools gets to the heart of the problem.

Innovation is typically not a strong suit of service lane technology providers, but one in particular is embracing it to competitive advantage. This past month, Dealer-FX introduced enhancements to ONE Platform, its core digital software solution.

ONE Platform enhancements offer a seamless, intuitive solution. It’s not about the buzzwords like AI and Machine Learning. It’s about what they do for dealership service staff – streamlining workflows, facilitating faster decision-making, and enhancing customer interactions,” says Steven Marques, VP of Product at Dealer-FX. Empowered with knowledge and confidence to perform complex repairs more efficiently, technicians accomplish more…and importantly…earn more. In addition, on-the-job learning for junior technicians is more fluid, increasing the chances they’ll mature into their roles over time.

Alleviating or eliminating the technician shortage demands a shift in dealership mindset and a commitment to set everyone up for success. Embracing digital solutions designed to truly complement the daily rhythm of technician and advisor workflows can help reverse the course of the current crisis,  changing workdays filled with frustration into weeks of heightened efficiency and achievement.

What’s hurting dealerships more? Lack of technicians? Or lack of determination to avert the crisis?

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