The Intersection 6-12-22

The Intersection 6-12-22

Another industry crisis: Getting, keeping mechanics

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There’s the old saying about nothing being certain in life except death and taxes. Two other things that could be added are the ice cream machine at McDonald’s always being broken and dealership service departments never having enough technicians.

And before you wonder how valuable one category of employees could be at a dealership filled with all sorts of essential workers, Carlisle & Co. estimated that losing one tech costs a typical store $172,000 in lost revenue and hiring/lost productivity costs associated with finding a replacement. (There are no concrete figures on how much your local Golden Arches loses when it can’t make McFlurrys.)

That value to a dealership’s bottom line is why so much attention is paid to recruiting techs — from high schools, community colleges, trade schools and other stores — and retaining the ones already there.

Carlisle wrote a white paper stemming from its most recent Automotive Service Manager Survey that examined steps service departments are taking to keep techs. Of course, money is important, but it is not a cure-all. Read Automotive News’ Q&A with Carlisle’s Eliza Johnson about the white paper and its conclusions.

This month’s Fixed Ops Journal also takes a look at tech retention and what is needed to keep these workers happy and staying put. Dealership tech Russell Wickham channeled his frustrations with working conditions and workplace culture into a series of blogs and posts on LinkedIn that garnered a lot of attention and reaction.

Wickham also penned a guest column in this issue of FOJ on how dealerships can do a better job of onboarding new techs. And for techs such as Wickham who are seeking out better pay, more supportive co-workers and bosses and a positive work environment, WrenchWay — a matchmaker of wrench-turners and dealership service departments — helps in that effort.

The struggle dealerships face recruiting and retaining technicians won’t abate anytime soon. And that’s another certainty in life these days.

Dan Shine   

In Monday’s Automotive News:

2023 Cadillac Escalade V

Upscale performance:  Large luxury SUVs are moving more upscale in price, content and performance, so the Cadillac Escalade is getting fortified with an extreme performance model, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V. Priced at $149,000, the V’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine packs 682 hp and 643 pound-feet of torque, good enough to zip from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds. We walk you through the details.

Mercedes EQB crossover

Mercedes’ EV plans:  Mercedes-Benz expects EVs to account for about half of its U.S. sales by 2030, executives revealed at the brand’s national dealer meeting. The German luxury marque is in the early days of an EV product offensive that will bring a handful of zero-emission models over the next year. That effort will be critical to Mercedes’ aspirations of delivering about 350,000 vehicles in the U.S. next year, according to a retailer who attended the event. Mercedes aims to sell up to 45,000 EQ-branded electric vehicles in 2023, said the dealer, who asked not to be identified. In contrast, Mercedes sold 352,129 in 2019, before the pandemic and a global supply chain crisis kneecapped production industrywide. We lay out the details.

Weekend headlines

Tesla asks shareholders to approve 3-for-1 stock split:  The proposed split in the form of a dividend comes amid a sharp selloff in Tesla, which saw its shares underperform broad markets. The stock is down nearly 35% this year.

June 13, 2010: Jim McDonald, who was president of General Motors under CEO Roger Smith in the 1980s, dies at 87. McDonald became president and COO on Feb. 1, 1981, a month after Smith took over as GM’s chief executive.

McDonald helped steer GM as it rebounded from recession at the start of the decade while confronting stiffening overseas competition. The company diversified, reorganized, overhauled factories and sought new ways of winning back U.S. market share. With Smith, McDonald announced the creation of Saturn, the small-car company designed to beat Japanese imports, in 1983.

In a 1987 story marking McDonald’s retirement at age 65, Automotive News called his quest for quality a “long, hard and often disappointing struggle.” Some colleagues, the article said, “say McDonald’s compassion for plant workers caused GM to postpone too long the closing of several assembly and component plants.”

A year earlier, Ford Motor Co. had outearned GM for the first time since 1924 amid growing signs that Smith’s overhaul was failing. McDonald was quoted as saying that the rewards were yet to come. “We could have eliminated a lot of investment and not reorganized and looked better right now,” he said. “But I don’t think the corporation would have existed until 1990 or existed very well.”

McDonald’s successor as president, Bob Stempel, would take over for Smith as CEO in 1990 only to be ousted by GM’s board less than two years later.

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