Stokes: Saving the Industry by Honoring Our Techs

May 18, 2023
It’s time to recommit to training and caring for these valuable team members.

Technicians have gone through an interesting period—three years of being in high demand. Now, they find themselves falling back into the normal cycle. Some technicians are hunting to make the money they were making before only to not be able to find it. Other technicians have an amazing gig making more money than ever. Every technician needs to be thankful for the opportunity they currently have and continue to improve because it's not the same market. That was a temporary market, a hot market. It was an amazing time.  

Focusing on the Right Techs 

There are some technicians who took advantage of this situation and made money they didn't deserve. Eventually, those technicians will be outed when they begin having comebacks making it obvious that they didn’t diagnose well. Others bounced from shop to shop and developed a reputation for that behavior. This will put a demand on training for those technicians who chose to improve and who worked on their skills. I'm very happy that wages have gone up for technicians. I believe this will attract more talent to the industry. This also means technicians are never going to have the same market value as they did before, and they shouldn't. Those technicians were buying their own tools and most of them on a pretty strong commission. They need to be taken care of and honored for the craftsmen they are. At the same time, all technicians have to step up and prove they're deserving of the money they're now making. They're going to have to study more and learn more.  

Using Good Techs to Model Success 

Technicians are some of the most intelligent people on the planet, knowing about all kinds of systems from hydraulic to suspension, mechanical to electrical. They're still underpaid to a degree in certain markets across the country, but I think on this next wave, we’re going to see a shift that we've never seen before. As the market settles, you're going to see some of the top technicians making even more money. You'll see some technicians who shouldn't have been making what they were earning less, but you will see a huge difference between entry-level and top technicians. This will give a very clear path for newer technicians in our industry to go, “I can make $10,000 doing this, I can make $10,000 doing that. And, as I get each of these skills, make another 10 grand here and there.” These young techs will see the steps it takes to get to this big money. And I think we will see an influx and technicians like we haven't seen before. This is what we need to solve the technician shortage. It's plagued this industry for decades. We can turn this entire thing around by paying these guys what they're worth and giving them the benefits they need.  

Owners Need to Step Up 

That said, owners must decide to run the type of shop that technicians want to work in, especially up-and-coming techs. We've got to attract those young men and women and provide a place for them to be successful. If we do this, we'll take them to a level they've never been at before, and it's going to be amazing. If some owners start taking advantage and don’t keep up, it's going to cause major issues and we're going to see technicians leave the market again. We can't screw it up this time. We need to bring all these technicians back into the fold and welcome them. If we work together and join nonprofits and other organizations to encourage people to train technicians, we can get this problem solved for our industry for the betterment of our customers. 

If we can continue to honor this trade, we will attract kids who love cars and who have wanted to be in this field but haven't because of the lack of money and potential. I think if we can do all of this, we can turn things around and we see an increase in interest like we've never seen.

About the Author

Aaron Stokes

A nearly 20-year veteran of the automotive repair industry, Aaron Stokes grew his business, AutoFix, from a one-car garage to a six-shop operation that is widely regarded as one of the top repair businesses in the country. Stokes, the founder of Shop Fix Academy, is an operational guru with a unique business and leadership philosophy that has led his business to great heights.

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