5 Tips For Technician Communication

By Dan Anton

Service technicians are powerful people. They are the lions of their domain. Intruders beware. The exceptionally skilled and experienced are increasingly rare gems. Service directors and service advisors hoping to curry their favor often shudder in hesitation.

This article briefly examines this dynamic. Its goal is to share a few real-world examples with tips for nurturing service technician buy-in of new ideas brought to them by their service director and/or their service advisors.

Auto technicians are increasingly in demand, energetically pursued, and inclined to reject dealerships that tend to underutilize their talents, waste their time, or clutter their workday with “new ideas” that add no measurable value. According to an automotive publication, losing one auto tech can cost $172,000. That’s a loss service directors fear – and why good ideas that require some level of technician influence rarely get explored.

Marco Zwanenburg, a 25-year master technician with Naples Luxury Imports in Naples, Florida, explains the dynamic this way, “At the end of the day, I want to go home rich and tired. So, I look at what I do -- and the new ideas I am being asked to consider -- through this filter: ‘It’s all about me and how much more efficiently will any new idea enable me to work?’”

If you want the technicians’ attention, buy them a real meal for the breakroom and make it OK for them to take the time to sit down and enjoy themselves. “I’ve never turned down catering,” said Robert Stage, tongue-incheek. Until recently, he was a 35-year dealership technician. He is now an automotive technology instructor for WyoTech College in Laramie, Wyoming.

As an example, let’s say you’ve identified the need for software solutions such as one for the recon department. Now is not the time to overburden your already busy technicians with more tasks by layering additional work on them.

“What I think about is, what are we trying to accomplish with a new idea? How does this idea or product affect our technicians or service director?” said Jared Ricart, President of Ricart Automotive Group, Columbus, Ohio. He was formerly the group’s fixed ops director.

“We used to have technicians working 50 hours to turn 40. Now they work 38 to 39 hours to turn 45. Our techs are earning more and working less,” Ricart said, referencing the reconditioning workflow software he installed. That production gain is welcomed by everyone. “I have cars front-line ready much faster.”

Fixed Ops Coach Chris Collins said, “The most important people in your business and least cared about are your service technicians.” Technicians are essential for a car dealership to generate revenue, service customers, keep customers, and keep inventory flowing. Great techs are:

  • Highly developed and skilled problem‑solvers
  • By temperament, persistent
  • Time-sensitive yet detail focused
  • Individuals with great pride in workmanship

Introduce new ideas slowly. Let them ask questions to feel they’re part of the decision process. Let them put their hands on the new tool or product to show how it will make a difference. If you do that it has been said that you will immediately gain the technicians’ trust and respect. David Simches, Group Used Car Director for the Crown Automotive Group, with 22 stores, embraces a similar style with everyone involved in vehicle reconditioning for his stores. Getting technician support for the reconditioning software he brought to the operation required showing them how the tool benefitted them.

One final thought is to wrap those whose cooperation one seeks in “a tidal wave of positive energy,” advised Ricart. “Most technicians are highly motivated to learn about something that will bring their slower times up to busier times,” Zwanenburg said. Encourage service directors to coach and motivate techs. This will provide the following benefits:

  • Enhanced on-the-job confidence and skills
  • More job fulfillment
  • Fewer delays
  • Better communication and frictionless relationships

How you present new ideas isn’t rocket science, but too often, we communicate poorly. As my wife says, “It’s in your delivery.” Your tone, cadence, and volume are important to consider. Whether you’re a service director, service advisor, or parts manager, it’s all about how you say what you need to communicate. Like most of us, technicians will respond more favorably when first shown how and why something new might benefit them.

About Rapid Recon

Reconditioning workflow automation from Rapid Recon is the industry standard in time-to-line inventory turn and speed-to-sale vehicle revenue enhancement for automotive retailers. Benchmarking data based on 13 million vehicles processed uniquely positions Rapid Recon to advise dealers on how to improve their store’s profitability. Used by more than 2,000 dealerships, Rapid Recon ensures the accountability of processes, property, and people. Hence, dealers know answers quickly, find assets anywhere, and sell vehicles promptly to grow dealership profitability. www.rapidrecon.com CALL US: +650-999-0497