Job Dissatisfaction: Why Mechanics Are Leaving the Industry
It is widely acknowledged that contemporary cars are becoming increasingly intricate. As a result, contemporary automotive technicians are faced with a plethora of systems to scrutinize, detect issues with, and rectify. Some may assume that utilizing a code scanner makes the life of a mechanic stress-free, however, a recent investigation divulges the contrary; mechanics experience significant levels of pressure. In fact, half of them contemplate quitting their profession altogether.
According to a recent research conducted by Wrenchway, it has been revealed that a considerable number of technicians in the automotive and diesel repair industries have expressed their dissatisfaction with their current job roles. This study included input from techs working in various fields, including auto body repair, as well as feedback from students and shop managers. Wrenchway asked them a series of questions about their salaries, vacation time, tool provisions, perks, travel times, and professional growth opportunities. The most significant finding was that almost half of the respondents had contemplated leaving the field.The findings from this study, conducted by Wrenchway, have highlighted the prevailing sentiments among technicians in the automotive and diesel repair sectors. A selection of techs working in similar fields such as auto body repair was included in the survey, which also gathered opinions from both students and shop managers. The questions posed by Wrenchway covered a broad range of topics, including remuneration, downtime, tool provisions, benefits, commute durations, and career advancement prospects. However, the most noteworthy response was the staggering 49 percent of participants who admitted to considering quitting the industry altogether.
What causes discontentment? Based on research, the primary cause identified is stress related to compensation. A smaller percentage can be attributed to physical and mental demands, followed by expenses for tools. Other factors that contribute to this includes inadequate management, disrespect, and insufficient benefits. Upon further investigation, disparities were found between automotive and diesel technicians. While 60 percent of auto techs contemplate quitting, only 45 percent of diesel techs share the same sentiment, but both groups agree that the main source of stress is linked to wages.
The discussion of hourly pay versus flat rate is a contentious one. In summary, numerous businesses compensate their workers with a set amount for each task, without considering the duration it takes. This issue was highlighted in a recent survey, which revealed that 65 percent of technicians would rather receive either an uncomplicated hourly wage or an hourly wage coupled with productivity incentives. Only nineteen percent favored a fixed-rate payment system guaranteeing forty hours per week, while a mere ten percent expressed a liking for a flat rate.
The study also considers the expenses of tools and training. In most cases, technicians are responsible for purchasing their own tools, which can cost well over $10,000. This can be a barrier for new technicians who are trying to enter the industry. For experienced professionals, staying up-to-date with the constant advancements in vehicle systems requires extensive training. While some shops may cover the cost of training, others do not. Therefore, this profession is not one where you can just land a job and start working. Technicians must shoulder the financial burden of acquiring equipment and receiving training.
The recent survey presents a rather grim outlook for an essential sector. In order to determine the accuracy of these findings, we took it upon ourselves to verify the data through personal observation. Sadly, our observations align with the results of the survey. Our attempts to engage in conversation with various individuals at car manufacturing dealerships were consistently met with refusal, whether it be from managers or mechanics. Those who did agree to speak with us requested that their identities remain anonymous, and they all shared stories about the industry’s struggling state. One mechanic, with eight years of experience at a dealership in New Jersey, expressed uncertainty about staying in the field due to issues such as low pay and high levels of stress.
During our interview, he expressed, “I’m not super against salary pay.” He believes that this type of compensation places less pressure on technicians and also signifies a level of trust between the owner and the technician. This is a common issue in the automotive industry, as many private shops and dealerships have a high turnover rate for technicians. They often only stay for a short period of six to eight months before moving on to their next job.
According to this technician, mechanics may see a decrease in their paycheck if they are able to improve their methods and complete repairs more efficiently. However, this arrangement does not apply in reverse. In the event that a task takes longer than expected, the mechanic does not receive any additional compensation. This essentially means that the mechanic is essentially working for free in these situations.
“They’re fabricating these repair durations and disregarding geographical factors, such as the East Coast where corrosion is widespread.”
When it comes to trust and respect, we interviewed a tool vendor from the Southeast who had a similar experience. Over the course of 10 years working in his field, he has visited numerous repair shops and spoken with mechanics, and he firmly believes that the treatment of employees by management is crucial.In terms of trust and respect, we talked to a tool supplier based in the Southeast who had a comparable account. Having been in this line of work for a decade, he has frequented various repair shops and interacted with multiple mechanics, and he asserts that the way management treats their staff is paramount.
According to the speaker, “I’d say the survey is pretty accurate, being 50/50 wanting to quit.” He also added, “I have one bad dealer that I visit, they had 50 techs a year and a half ago and now they’re down to 20.” He believes that this decrease in staff is due to the difficulty in finding good technicians. He further stated, “Good techs are hard to come by, and places that respect them will pay them well to stay.” This particular dealer charges $320 per hour for labor, but for simpler tasks like brakes or oil changes, the technicians only make around $20 an hour.
During our discussion with a local proprietor in southwest Michigan, we discovered that the biggest struggle for him is to secure proficient technicians. As far as management is concerned, this was his primary concern.
According to a teacher at a technical school, out of a class of 50 students, only a small fraction, specifically three or four, pursue careers in their chosen field after graduation. This leaves me with the task of training young technicians, only to discover that many of them lack a strong work ethic. In the past 10 months, I have hired several employees, but unfortunately, more than half of them have left to pursue completely unrelated career paths.
As car technology advances at a rapid pace, our research and subsequent interviews indicate the need for the auto repair industry to also adapt. Can you share any anecdotes about your experiences with mechanics? Join in the conversation below and inform others of what has been successful and unsuccessful in this crucial field.