Tech Specialization

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Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Fleet maintenance and repair shops and independent shops at some point will consider tech specialization as a means of increasing shop revenue. Maybe you have a tech that’s a hands down standout at some repairs. Maybe you have another who is primarily good at another handful of jobs. So you want to keep these people busy at what they’re best doing because they’re so efficient at those jobs and generate great revenue while performing excellent repairs.

But the question arises, “Do I have enough productivity from the rest of my people? Is the shop busy enough to keep all my people working?” After all, you still have to have techs who are able to handle all the other jobs that come in. And if the shop is not busy enough, then what? Chances are, you likely have techs working at different skill levels and that may be causing productivity gaps.

You Need Techs at Various Levels

You may be thinking the general techs are responsible for inefficient productivity and you want to talk with them about it. Wrong. We never play the blame game in a heavy truck repair shop. Techs at all levels continuously learn on the job and are steadily improving at their craft as they work. We expect good work first; efficiency will definitely follow in time. Reward good work now; it brings in more work for your shop. Reward efficiency later.

If you’re billing all techs on flat rate hours you generate great revenue from the specialized techs and not so great from the general techs. You don’t want a shop full of specialists. There must be a gang capable of handling all the rest of the repairs. And you don’t want a workplace where the elite specialists look down on the generalists. That will never create harmony in a shop.

How do You Base Tech Pay?

Do you pay techs according to hours billed or hours worked? A manager needs to be careful not to create a rift between tech classes within the shop. A flat rate pay structure works well for the specialists, not so well for the generalists. But remember, all your techs are in learning and improving mode. Eventually the generalists will become great at their work and efficiency will prove it. 

Working out a pay scheme that is equitable and fair for all is key to keeping techs productive. Maybe you want to pay everyone according to flat rate billable hours to keep everyone incentivized. However, the newer techs may not take well to such an arrangement. It may cause them to overlook necessary items that need to be checked or repaired in an effort to earn more flat rate hours.

A solution may be to pay your specialists according to flat rate billed hours and generalists by hours worked. Let them know that they can switch to flat rate when they achieve efficiency in their work. That gives them incentive to improve without sacrificing good work habits. This kind of two tier pay scale may be something to consider to avoid causing a rift. Be sure to communicate to your techs why you set it up this way and how it benefits everyone.

Good Work Gives Your Shop a Great Reputation

Good work generates more revenue in your shop as you gain a reputation for quality and fairness in customer repair work. As a manager, you need to make your people aware of this so they continuously focus on excellent work above all. And you need your shop to stay top of mind to all your customers. That requires constant contact on your part.

Let your customers know that you have qualified experts with the latest training and skills to provide whatever is needed. By performing great work your techs are helping you to sell more work, keep the facility full, and generate superb revenue streams for the shop. Remember, your techs are your greatest asset; give them proper training, have patience, pay them what they’re worth, and watch them shine.

Sure, specialization is great for some techs as long as you don’t let them get complacent about their work. It still has to remain interesting to them and that rests on you the manager. Take an interest in their work and they will take an interest as well. Communicate what’s happening now and in the future within the industry. Let them know you depend on their excellent work and thank them.

With a blend of specialists and generalists you can easily track individual efficiency of all your techs with your EMDECS subscription from BrightOrder Inc. Not currently subscribed to EMDECS? Contact us today for a demo.

Harmony in the shop is worth gold. Keep your techs happy and keep those trucks rolling.