How Should We Reward Technicians in a Modern Workshop?

How Should We Reward Technicians in a Modern Workshop?


So you’ll no doubt have seen there was much discussion on our previous post ‘what’s a diagnostic technician worth’ therefore we wanted to go a step further.

This week, let’s look at bonus structures and if they can work in a modern workshop. Now straight away we can hear all the diagnostic guys amongst you say, here we go, another money spinner for the express service guys. But hold on; surely we’re smarter than that?

In a football team, you spread your skill across the field, having a strategy built around defence, midfielders and forwards(For our Australian readers, please humour us and insert the word soccer where football is). So why can’t we apply the same rules in our workshops.

We’re always going to have the express service guys, who’ll rip through the work and sell the most hours (Let’s call them the forwards). Then you’ve got your midfielders, these guys might be able to fix whatever you throw at them, whether it’s stripping an engine toits block and pistons, or replacing a clutch kit in record time. Now of course these guys see an array of work, which will mean their labour recovered will fluctuate, unlike that of the express service team. These guys are certainly a different animal to your express service guys, but the team needs diversity. In defence we have the diagnostic guys, they’re undoubtedly not the most efficient, and they’re likely to get the most warranty work too, however they’re also the guys who save your bacon. These are the guys who you give the jobs that need to be fixed right first time. These are the guys who get you out of jail. So the question is, should these guys all be paid on hours sold?

Our answer is yes…but before you start slinging mud, hear us out. The purpose of a football game is to score the most goals. Just like the purpose of a service department is to sell hours (in the economic sense that is). Now sure, there’s much more to consider than short-term profit alone, since we need to ensure that the work is done correctly, to ensure the customer is satisfied, and so hopefully they’ll return and become a customer for life in the long-term. But whenever we look at the service department’s profitability, we must look at hours sold, it just can’t be ignored, and if you think we can waltz around focusing on just fixing the car no matter how long it takes, then it’s likely you’ll go out of business, or overcharge your customers if you’re simply charging time taken and not manufacturer times.

So how do we manage a modern workshop, and ensure we maintain a focus on selling hours, whilst ensuring we’re acting in the customer’s best interests, and fixing the cars right first time? Impossible we hear you say. We challenge it’s not. But the way we reward our technicians should be carefully considered if we want all the players to get along harmoniously.

So let’s look revisit those forwards, what’s a reasonable amount of labour recovery to expect from them if they’re spinning filters all day? 105%, 110%, or even 120%, it will almost certainly vary according to which brand you’re representing, and the associated standard times. We’d suggest service and workshop managers should apply their experience and judgement in determining this figure; remembering this relates to the forwards only. Let’s then call this a qualifying benchmark.

Now let’s do the same for the midfielders, with consideration of the work they get, perhaps service managers will consider this should be 80%, 85% or even 90%. Whatever it is, again apply a judgement and make this the midfielders qualifying benchmark.

Then do the same for the diagnostic team, this time, you’re likely around 60%, 65% or perhaps 70% if you’re doing well.

Now you need to work out how many players you’ve got in each position, then you can apply a weighted average of your benchmarks according to your team consistency.

Once you’ve worked this out, you should have reached an overall, and realistic hourly recovery target for your team.

But as we alluded to previously, it shouldn’t just be about hours sold. Nowadays most manufacturers reward on customer satisfaction scores, or fixed right first time results. Accordingly, shouldn’t we link this to those conducting the work, if we wish for them to show an interest in doing the job properly? Perhaps the collective bonus funds are multiplied where we achieve the customer satisfaction results we’re aiming for, but vice versa, the bonus funds are reduced where we fall short.

In doing this, it is critical that the workshop is then attaining accurate information from the customer, although this opens up an entirely separate issue that perhaps we’ll discuss another week.

Whether playing a game of football, or running a modern workshop, we must apply a strategy that supports the diversity of the team. One rule fits all no longer works as vehicles become more complex and the array of skills become more specialised. If you don’t embrace this you’ll likely alienate more than half the team, which might explain why we’re seeing so many highly skilled automotive tradespeople becoming despondent and leaving the trade.

At Techs On The Move, we don’t just source and assist highly skilled tradespeople to find jobs in Australia. We also take a genuine interest in the workshops where we place you. All our recruiters are ex-industry tradespeople, so we understand the challenges you face every day in modern workshops. We’re also pretty selective in who we choose to work with, this way we minimise the risk for all concerned.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can assist you, whether you’re a service manager struggling to find highly skilled tradespersons, or if you’re a tradesperson and would like to know more about how you could find work in Australia, please contact us using the form below.

Read our next post: So just how bad are our skills shortages?

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