Repairer Driven News
« Back « PREV Article  |  NEXT Article »

SCRS, I-CAR launch technician survey to grasp honest views of industry jobs

By on
Business Practices
Share This:

The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and I-CAR have developed a survey designed to better understand what collision repair technicians think about working in the industry; specifically, job satisfaction, earning capacity, and other aspects that either encourage or diminish retention.

The survey, open until July 31, is being facilitated by Ducker Carlisle, which has been sourcing technician feedback through surveys with automotive OEMs for several years.

SCRS and I-CAR plan to share a state of the industry report, including the survey trends, later this year.

The results might make for an interesting follow-up to SCRS’ OEM Summit Session on Tackling the Technician Crisis Together, during the 2022 SEMA Show. That session, led by Chad Walker, managing partner of Ducker Carlisle, explored previous data compiled by the global market research firm that delved into the technician crisis in similar partnership with automakers. The presentation also featured Dara Goroff, I-CAR planning and industry talent programming vice president; John Helterbrand, national program director of Collision Engineering, and Jennifer Maher, executive director of TechForce Foundation.

“We recognize that all segments of the automotive industry are hungry for new entrants,” said SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg. “We need to understand the ways in which we stack up, and how we can either leverage the ways in which we are already a better fit, or fix the shortcomings that might deter someone from choosing collision over service, diesel, or other automotive-related segments.”

The automotive and collision repair industries have grappled for decades with how to attract and retain skilled workers. A recent Techforce study found that 232,000 techs were needed in 2021 across automotive, diesel, and collision but schools were graduating only 42,000. In collision alone, the demand was 35,000 techs while only 4,500 graduated.

A 2022 survey commissioned by the Collision Engineering Program (CEP) indicated that there is a lack of awareness about collision repair careers, although people are open to exploring them. It found just 17% of survey respondents were “very familiar” with collision repair or engineering. The survey revealed that those who were familiar with the industry were more likely to pursue a career within it.

“One of the things we wanted to make sure of is that we got a perspective across the entire gamut of technicians,” said Goroff. “And oftentimes when you release a survey, because of the MSOs themselves having so many hires, we get a lot of focus on what their technicians feel.

“It’s important that we get everything from a technician working at the individual shop owner to a small series of shops to a large scale MSO because we really do want to be able to use this information to attract technicians to the industry but also help employers realize what they can do to retain the fantastic talent they already appreciate and they’d be lost without.”

Respondents with less than 10 years of work experience are more likely to switch their careers to collision engineering when compared to others who’ve worked in a separate industry for more than a decade, according to the survey results.

Similar to Ducker Carlisle’s bi-annual industry-wide survey of automotive dealer technicians, the survey will dive into what support technicians are looking for from their employers to improve their careers, ultimately improving repair quality and the customer experience. All answers are anonymous and won’t be shared. Instead, trends drawn from all answers by Ducker Carlisle will be shared with the industry.

“We think this is an opportune time to do this because with all of the changes and advancement in technologies that the industry is facing compounded by the lack of skills-based talent that enters our industry and our big fear that those in our industry today are thinking about potentially retiring or moving on to different places in their career pathing,” Goroff said.

Technicians that consider taking the survey can expect to be asked about their educational background, how they got into the collision repair industry, their current job and job history, current and desired benefits, customer interactions, training, tools and equipment availability and needs, workplace culture, and more.

Questions will also center on what a typical workday is like — what technicians spend their time doing and what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about it; technicians’ career aspirations and whether their employer offers tools and opportunities to support them, and how the industry can offer education and training to achieve those long-term goals.

“Once the survey closes, we’ll compile all the data and conduct a full analysis to understand the trends there,” said Eliza Johnson, Ducker Carlisle principal. “What are some of the top concerns for collision technicians today? What are some of the things that they’re looking for in their role? What are ways to kind of promote and help grow the field?

“Identify some of those key trends as well as understand if there are particular segments of collision technicians that have different concerns than others and draw some of those conclusions to share back with I-CAR and SCRS… One of the key things I think that myself and others are interested in seeing is some of the unique challenges that collision technicians specifically have as compared to some of the things that we already know about dealer or mechanical technicians… and where there are similarities that face technicians across the board.”

Johnson added positive feedback that techs share about their jobs can be used to promote the career path and grow the technician base while challenges can be heard and worked on.

For example, Ducker Carlisle has found through its automotive technician surveys that common technician frustrations are about the flat rate pay system, workplace culture, lack of rewards and recognition, lack of a career path, and the inability to advance in their careers.

SCRS first connected with Johnson and her team at Ducker Carlisle when RDN covered a CNBC interview on the work Carlisle engaged in with automotive OEMs.

“It was evident that their organization had tremendous resources in highlighting the area of concern, and using the data to understand the problem and develop solutions,” Schulenburg said. “We are also very interested in using the collision repair technician perspective to create deliverable messages that SCRS and others can use internally and with other key segments of the industry.”

SCRS is particularly interested in information about pay structures and the potential to highlight how it may be a key limiting factor specific to the acquisition and retention of new talent in the collision industry, he added.


Featured image credit: GOCMEN/iStock

More information

How to solve the technician shortage? You train your own, mentors say

Tech shortage ‘the cancer eating away’ at industry’s bottom line

Share This: