TechMission 2023 brought together technicians, shop managers/owners, instructors, and other industry professionals for its fourth consecutive year, focusing on “Treating Technicians Like an Asset, Not an Expense.”

Thank you to all the amazing sponsors, panelists, and attendees for making TechMission 2023 a success! We are so lucky to be a part of such a great industry.

In case you missed it or need a refresher, here’s a recap of the key topics that were covered at the event.

Repairing a Broken Industry

We need to tackle and resolve auto/diesel industry challenges, such as the broken flat rate/pay system, the lack of clear career development paths for technicians, and the attraction of higher-paying roles in other skilled trade sectors. With these industry shortcomings, it is no surprise many technicians with diverse skill sets are exploring opportunities outside of the industry.

Overall, the industry is progressing in the right direction. Here are some positives we are seeing:

  • Technicians and managers are getting more comfortable communicating.
  • More mentorship of young technicians in the shop.
  • Moving away from the “I learned the hard way, so you have to, too” attitude.
  • And more!

These are steps in the right direction, but there are still many challenging conversations that need ongoing discussion.

“Change has got to come from us [technicians]. It’s not gonna come from the manufacturers, and it’s not going to always come from the owners. It’s gonna take technicians saying, ‘I want this in my job, I want this as part of my life to enrich it, and I won’t take anything less than that.’”

Brent Taylor
Shop Foreman, Tom Wood Porsche
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Prioritizing Financial Transparency & Education

Being open about shop finances with technicians is vital for a positive and efficient work environment. Being financially transparent with technicians gives technicians a clearer view of how money is used in the shop, helping them see where the earnings go. This understanding is key for technicians to know how their compensation compares to industry standards and how it aligns with the shop’s financial health.

Compensation goes beyond just salary though. It includes benefits and perks for your technicians like health insurance, retirement plans, training, tool allowances, and more. Even providing personal financial management training to technicians can empower them to manage their money wisely. These benefits not only make technicians happier, but also show the shop’s dedication to its employees’ well-being in and out of the shop.

“We’ve got financial counseling for our team that is completely free. There are free resources on the Internet. Your employees can sign up and they [advisors] will call your team once a week to review information with them, go over their numbers with them, and make sure they are making smart financial decisions.”

Lucas Underwood
President, L&N Performance
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Handling & Giving Constructive Feedback

Managers should have consistent lines of communication open with their technicians through tactics such as regular meetings, company-wide surveys, or one-on-one meetings. These help build the manager-technician relationships and address smaller issues before they become bigger issues.

For managers, it’s crucial to have thick skin when receiving feedback from your technicians. During the meetings, it’s important to have humility, not get defensive and to actively listen. Most importantly, show that you care by acting on the feedback received. Over time, your list of action items should become smaller and smaller because you are genuinely addressing your technicians’ concerns.

“You have to have humility if you are going to believe that others’ ideas are worthy and better than yours. Plus, you have to have humility to take criticisms and not get defensive. I think generally if you see these cultures that don’t have this kind of feedback mechanism and voice for the technicians, it is probably because there is a lack of humility among the leadership.”

Tim Winkeler
President & CEO, VIP Tires & Service
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For technicians, ensure that you vet out your feedback. Consider who your feedback will hurt or help, and thoroughly analyze your words before reacting. Avoid getting caught up in the negative aspects and becoming too emotional.

“Technicians, when you do have an idea, vet the idea. Define it terms of who is this going to benefit. It has to come from a position where it will benefit everyone. There are going to be situations where people come to me with an idea and I say, “Unfortunately, that will benefit you, but it will hurt the rest of the guys in the shop.’ So come at it from an angle that is most beneficial for everyone.”

Jon Olstad
Technician Lead, Walser Polar Chevrolet
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Growing Young Talent

It’s simple to say, “We need to grow young people in the auto/diesel industry,” but having a process to nurture that young talent is crucial. As a manager/owner, amid the day-to-day challenges, neglecting your team’s development sets your business up for long-term failure.

Here are tips on how to grow young talent:

  • Start Now: Even though you are busy, you should start now and develop a process to bring on and train those green technicians.
  • Equip Your Staff: From managers to technicians, everyone is going to need to help. Provide your staff the tools they need to manage this new coaching hurdle like tips on how to manage their current workload while supporting young technicians.
  • Allow Growth: Support the development of new technicians by providing opportunities for them to face challenges on their own. Every technician has a breaking point, offering a valuable learning experience to assess their skills and provide targeted assistance.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate new technicians’ milestones and build their confidence early.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: As a manager/owner, understand that those young technicians probably aren’t going to turn a profit for a while, and they might fail along the way.

“The new generation, I wouldn’t say they are softer, but you have to go about it a different way. You can’t just beat them up and think they are going to learn from it and go on because they will leave. If they feel they are not respected, they’ll just leave.”

Jason Olinger
Lead Automotive Technician, Gwatney Chevrolet
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Growing young talent at your shop has many benefits in the long run. It can help your seasoned technicians manage their workload and assists with burnout, therefore enabling your shop to work on more cars. Additionally, developing these technicians at a young age solidifies their confidence in themselves and their abilities early on, setting them up for a long and successful career in the auto/diesel industry.

Missed TechMission 2023? Watch the Recordings

If you missed our live TechMission 2023 event, you can still download the TechMission 2023 sessions for free on our website!