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AutoNation sets goal of hiring 500+ technicians

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Announcements | Business Practices | Market Trends
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Collision repairers could face even tougher competition for employees in light of AutoNation’s announcement Monday it planned to hire more than 500 technicians “to fill positions in its service and collision centers.”

Fellow publicly traded repairer Gerber recently told investors that more technicians meant less backlog and therefore increased quarterly revenue. Gerber used part of its U.S. tax cut savings to improve vacation and retirement benefits, and the tactic appeared to help it alleviate its tech shortage, parent company CEO Brock Bulbuck said. (Repairers considering adding or improving a retirement plan might wish to check out SCRS’ 401(k) option for members. It might prove more affordable and attractive than what a shop — particularly a small one — could obtain on its own.)

Pressure from investors to fill open positions and gain revenue could make AutoNation an aggressive recruitment competitor to nearby independent repairers.

However, AutoNation didn’t say Monday whether it actually planned to do anything beyond a press release to obtain those technicians. (For example, increased advertising or improved pay/benefits.)

On the other hand, repairers might need to step up their pay, benefits and career development game just to match that status quo.

“AutoNation offers a competitive compensation package, free technical training, performance incentives and a clear career path with ample opportunity for advancement for both part- and fulltime employees,” AutoNation wrote in a news release. “Additional benefits include opportunities for continuing education, access to state-of-the-art tools and technology, paid vacation, health insurance, maternity leave and signing/referral bonuses.”

The average dealership auto service technician makes $61,000 in pay plus benefits, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

“There is a tremendous career path for automotive service technicians as the rapid pace of advancements in vehicle technology continues,” AutoNation customer care and brand extensions Executive Vice President Scott Arnold said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for tech school grads, men, women, veterans, those just out of the military and anyone who is willing to invest in the training in order to make a career change. We continue to be a leader and the employer of choice with what we can offer.”

The tech shortage came up in AutoNation’s April 26 first-quarter earnings call in the form of a question about technician retention and service bay capacity usage. (Special thanks to Seeking Alpha, whose transcript helped us locate and check quotes.)

Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Miller said AutoNation’s more than 30 brands meant it could offer technicians opportunities within a market or in the form of a transfer to another area. The dealership chain also could offer additional certification and training, she said.

“We feel good about the capacity” that we have today, she said — but noted that tech shortages “always are a bit of a challenge” in AutoNation’s collision business. This was “something that we continue to work through,” she said.

But overall, AutoNation felt good, Miller said, mentioning the company’s wage group and “good upward path” for technicians.

As for capacity, AutoNation would have no problem with capital expenditures on additional service bays if the opportunity was there, according to Miller. That kind of capital spending can be “very favorable” and bring in a good return on investment, she said.

More information:

“AutoNation Launches National Campaign to Recruit Skilled Service Technicians”

AutoNation, June 24, 2019

AutoNation first-quarter 2019 earnings call

AutoNation, April 26, 2019

AutoNation first-quarter 2019 earnings call transcript

Seeking Alpha, April 26, 2019

Featured image: AutoNation on June 25, 2019, said it planned to hire more than 500 technicians “to fill positions in its service and collision centers.” (Provided by AutoNation)

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