It’s no secret: modern automobiles are more complex than ever. By default, this means that modern automotive technologies have a multitude of systems to inspect, diagnose and repair if something goes wrong. You might think that plugging in a code scanner would make a mechanic’s life carefree, but a new study reveals the opposite: Mechanics are under considerable stress. In fact, half want to leave the company altogether.
That’s the takeaway from a recent study conducted by Screwway, which surveyed technicians working in a variety of fields, including automotive and diesel repair. A small sample of technicians in related fields such as auto body repair was included, and the study received feedback from students as well as shop managers. Turnway asked questions on topics ranging from compensation to time off, tool allowances, benefits, commute times and career paths. Most important was whether respondents had considered leaving the industry, to which 49 percent responded. Yes.
Where does the dissatisfaction come from? According to the study, stress related to compensation is the main factor. Physical and mental demands accounted for a lower percentage, followed by tool costs. Mismanagement, lack of respect and employee benefits are also taken into account. Digging deeper, the study revealed differences between auto-focused and diesel-focused technologies. Sixty percent of auto technicians are considering quitting, compared to 45 percent in the diesel group, but both point to stress over pay as the predominant factor.
This brings us to the debate between hourly pay and flat rate. In short, many stores pay their employees a flat rate per job, regardless of the length of the job. This is a sticking point according to the survey, which found that 65% of technicians would prefer either a simple hourly scale or an hourly scale with production bonuses. Nineteen percent favored a flat rate with a 40-hour guarantee, and only 10 percent said they wanted a flat rate.
The costs of tools and training were also taken into account. Technicians typically have to pay for their own tools, and with such investments easily topping $10,000, the study says this limits young technicians looking to break into the industry. As for experienced professionals, keeping up with the constant evolution of vehicle systems requires considerable training. Some stores pay for this training, others do not. So it’s not a field where you get a job and just go to work. Technicians are largely responsible for investing their own money in equipment and training.
The survey paints a rather bleak picture of a critical industry. We fact-checked ourselves to see if anecdotal experiences supported the data, and unfortunately, they did. To begin with, we found person at car manufacturer dealerships willing to talk with us, whether managers or mechanics. The people we spoke with are off the record talking about the tough times this industry is going through. A New Jersey-based mechanic with eight years of experience confirmed he was reluctant to leave, noting that pay and stress were big factors.
“I’m not very opposed to paying salaries,” he told us in an interview. “It puts less stress on the technicians and it also shows that there is some sort of trust between the owner and the technician. That’s a problem: a lot of shops and private dealerships are like a revolving door for technicians. They come in, they’re there.” for six to eight months, and off they go, on their way to the next job. »
This technician added that if mechanics find ways to be more efficient in repairs, the flat rate is reduced, thereby reducing their pay. But it doesn’t work the other way around. If something takes longer, the mechanic literally works for free.
“They’re catching up on those repair times and not accounting for places, like the East Coast, where rust is prevalent.”
When it comes to trust and respect, we spoke to a tool dealer in the Southeast who shared a similar story. Having visited repair shops and mechanics for 10 years as part of his job, he says it’s all about how management treats its employees.
“I would say the survey is pretty accurate, with 50/50 people wanting to quit,” he said. “I visited a bad dealer. There were 50 technicians a year and a half ago and now they only have 20. Good technicians are hard to find, and places that respect them will pay them well for stay. The dealership charges $320 an hour for labor, but for “secondary jobs” like brakes or oil changes, technicians make roughly $20 an hour.”
On the management side, we spoke with a small business owner in southwest Michigan who confirmed that finding good technology was his biggest challenge.
“I recently heard from a teacher at a technical school that out of a class of 50 students, only three or four go into their field after graduation,” he said. “So I find myself training young technicians and discovering that many don’t want to work hard. Of the employees I have found in the last 10 months or so, more than half have left and gone into something something completely different.”
With automotive technology evolving almost daily, the study and our follow-up interviews suggest that the world of auto repair must evolve as well. Do you have any mechanical stories to share? Jump into the comments; Let the world know what works and what doesn’t in this vital industry.
Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.motor1.com