We asked fixed ops managers: What was the biggest challenge you faced in 2017?
"Not just in '17 but pretty much always, it's staff replacements, trying to get the right people in the right places. Especially with technicians -- when you find a new one, it's difficult trying to get them trained up. Replacing service advisers is the same way. When they go, it's very difficult to try to replace them."
BLAKE CROMWELL, Service manager, Briggs Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Lawrence, Kan.
"Technician recruitment. A lot of young men think they want to do this, but when they see how complicated the vehicles are, they run from it. And the way technicians are paid is way out of date. The more you're certified, the less you make. The certified people get all the hard work, and the uncertified guy gets the easy, less time-consuming work."
JOHN CLONINGER, Fixed operations manager, Cloninger Ford, Hickory, N.C.
"Not enough repair technicians to handle all the customers. Trying to pull technicians out of our very small community, or from other areas of the state, has been extremely difficult. I've had three [techs] retire within the last year who were over 65. A lot of people are saving their older vehicles, not trading them in, so we've just seen a lot more of them coming through."
TERRY WAYLAND, Fixed operations manager, Power Ford, Albuquerque, N.M.
"Younger people don't want to get into this business. Their jobs, I don't think, are as critical to them as for people in older generations. Their personal time is perhaps more important to them and pay isn't necessarily the factor. As an industry, we've got to look at things differently. We need to come up with a different approach to attracting younger people."
BILL HOUSHOLDER, Corporate director for fixed operations, Ganley Automotive Group, Brecksville, Ohio
"This is not a one-year issue. We have over 300 technicians in our group, we'll turn over about 50 in the next couple of years, and there aren't 50 in the area of Buffalo or Rochester to pick up. Our community college is down 25 percent in enrollment for 2018 for the auto technician program, and over 40 percent for the collision technician program. That's what we're focused on."
JAY GALLIGAN, Director of fixed operations, West Herr Auto Group, Orchard Park, N.Y.
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