Fixed ops is an essential but often misunderstood department in the dealership, leading many dealers to miss out on the growing opportunities in the service space. On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Kara Delaine, vice president and co-host of Fixed Ops Roundtable, and Ted Ings, founder, president and co-host of Fixed Ops Roundtable, and the executive director of the Center for Performance Improvement, to discuss how the field has grown over the last few years.
Ings notes that automotive technology has drastically altered the fixed ops environment. Some of the most significant innovations in the field have been in service mobility. Mobile repair and maintenance providers are becoming increasingly popular due to the convenience of on-the-go repair. “Not every OEM has equipped their dealers to be able to do [mobile service], but what I’m hearing is that once a customer receives that service in their home, in their driveway or at work, that’s what they want, and that’s their expectation for the future,” he explains. This format of customer care is likely to become a mainstay of the U.S. auto industry. Dealers should this as an exciting opportunity for their business.
While fixed ops promise to be a major revenue earner for dealerships long into the future, many service managers are seeing a concerning pattern in the auto industry: mechanics retiring without replacements. Most dealers feel that talented technicians are becoming challenging to find. Both Delaine and Ings believe that the cause of the shrinking employee pool is a lack of promotion. Retailers, they argue, should do more to attract aspiring workers. “I’ve heard a lot about working with different colleges, different programs offering scholarships, different incentives like this, but the main component…is to expose this opportunity, to highlight all the opportunities in this wonderful industry that we’re in because so many people don’t know about it,” comments Delaine.
Attracting people to the auto industry requires better exposure, she continues. Workers, especially women, are often unaware of how quickly and drastically the car business has changed, causing them to overlook the amazing opportunities that exist at all levels of the dealership, from sales to fixed ops. Delaine notes that the attitudes she has witnessed in female technicians have been inspiring: “They don’t see anything holding them back. They just want to be in this industry, they want to succeed and they want to keep growing within.”
Coming up in September, Fixed Ops Roundtable will hold its 21st event, this time with a Woodstock-era theme. Popup events are also on the calendar, with the first arriving on June 14 in Sacramento, California. “We’re going to keep the focus on those hardworking people on the frontlines in the dealership,” concludes Ings.