Why pay plans for express auto technicians need to change – Don Reed

How are you compensating your express auto technicians? Today on Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome back Don Reed, CEO of DealerPRO Training, one of the nation’s top fixed-ops training platforms for dealers and host of the CBT show, Service Drive, to discuss how service pay plans look today.

Years ago, the goal of opening up a dedicated express service operation, in addition to the primary service department, was to get service customers as quickly as possible. However, that means many one-item repair orders, which is not conducive to profitability as a standalone operation, says Reed. Since then, express service operations have evolved and no longer focus on speed exclusively. Today, the primary mission of express service is to make sure every customer drives away in a safe and reliable vehicle.

Car dealers and fixed ops managers must do two things to achieve this mission. First, express auto technicians should start performing multi-point inspections on the vehicles that come through. Second, it is vital to establish fair and effective pay plans for express auto technicians.

Recently, Reed analyzed an express operation that services about 800 repair orders a month. He found that the express auto technicians were getting paid a flat hourly wage with no opportunities for incentives or bonuses. The highest wage was $11 per hour out of six express auto technicians. Reed says it’s no wonder why the industry is experiencing a chronic shortage of techs with pay plans like these. 

Productivity-wise, these express auto technicians are running at 50%. What’s the incentive for these young techs to increase their performance? There is none. Reed explains that car dealers have to give these employees pay plans that are fair and that will reward them for producing at a higher level. If an express auto technician produces 20 hours of work during a 40-hour workweek, incentivize that employee to start producing 25 hours per week. Consider extending a $1-2 bonus for every hour above 20.

All young express auto technicians can perform at higher levels, says Reed. Try pairing lower-skilled technicians with more experienced mentors through an apprenticeship program. Also, consider turning these techs into inspection machines. By utilizing these pay plan options, car dealers can increase employee loyalty and the bottom line.

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