What does the year ahead hold for auto repair shops like yours? We don’t have a crystal ball, but here are a few research-backed trends that the team at R.O. Writer, an industry-leading auto repair shop management system, think will affect shops like yours in the next twelve months. Read on to learn how to turn these challenges into opportunities with a bit of strategic thinking and the right tools and processes.
BALANCING EV, HYBRID, AND ICE VEHICLE REPAIRS
Global Electric Vehicle (EV) sales climbed by 43.66% in the first three quarters of 2023, while American EV sales increased by 50%. Although we’re seeing some slowing in the pace of sales from traditional automobile manufacturers, newer competitors are entering the industry and growth in the market is expected to continue.
As the industry pivots slowly towards more electric and hybrid options, auto repair shops will be challenged to find ways to provide repairs to EVs and HEV cars, while still offering services for the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars, trucks, and SUVs that make up the bulk of vehicles on the road today.
This evolution in the industry has implications for everything from technician training and recruiting, to parts and pricing. To keep your shop running efficiently as the mix of vehicles served becomes more complex, consider implementing technologies like auto repair shop software, which can help you identify the right parts for a repair and place an order in seconds.
Are you taking the right steps to prepare your shop to service electric vehicles? Read our recent blog, “Is Your Shop Ready for a Surge in Electric Vehicles (EVs)?”, to learn more.
THE ONGOING (AND GROWING) TECHNICIAN SHORTAGE
The shortage of auto repair technicians is projected to continue in 2024, driven by a lack of recent graduates, relatively low wages which haven’t kept pace with inflation, and a demographic shift as older employees retire and are not easily replaced. In fact, one study in 2022 suggested that the industry needed 232,000 techs across the automotive, diesel, and collision sectors, but only 42,000 were projected to graduate.
Rev Up Your Hiring Game: Unleash 6 Proven Strategies to Magnetize Top-Tier Talent for Your Auto Repair Shop:
- Making sure that the wages you offer are competitive and listing a salary range in your job ad to attract attention.
- Providing a base salary + performance bonus compensation structure.
- Building relationships with local high schools and colleges that offer technician programs.
- Creating a strong, collaborative, and fun shop culture, and showcasing it on social media for prospective employees.
- Ensuring you are working hard to retain and grow current employees, through training, career planning, and other incentives.
- Keep your auto shop tools up to date, including your software. The new generation of technicians were raised online and prefer mobile-friendly apps for processes like vehicle inspection.
Save your spot on our mailing list! R.O. Writer will be publishing a comprehensive guide to sourcing and retaining technicians shortly, and we’ll make sure you get a copy.
THE KNOCK-ON EFFECTS OF HIGHER INTEREST RATES AND THE UNDERSUPPLY OF NEW CARS
Americans, trying to avoid the high costs associated with changing their vehicles, are holding onto their cars for longer than ever. The average age of a car on the road in the US hit a new record, 12.5 years, in 2023, and it’s no wonder, given that the cost of a new car has climbed 24% since the pandemic, and interest rates are also hovering near 7%. Used cars aren’t a better deal, with the average cost of a used car up 40% in the same period.
Auto repair shops have a pivotal role to play in keeping these older vehicles in good working condition and on the road. They can help customers by emphasizing the need for routine maintenance in older vehicles, and by clearly communicating the state of systems in the vehicle – repairs that must be made immediately vs. those that can be deferred, early signs of wear and tear, and proactive repairs that can help prevent bigger problems down the line.
To communicate effectively about these sorts of complex maintenance and repair activities, consider digital vehicle inspection software (DVI). A DVI solution allows your technicians and service writers to send findings and recommendations alongside pictures and videos directly to the customer, increasing trust and comprehension and helping the customer make an educated decision.
A YEAR OF CHANGE AND OPPORTUNITY
With change comes opportunity for forward-thinking auto repair shop owners who are willing to keep pace with their changing industry. To help your shop stay agile and responsive in challenging but exciting times, consider investing in auto shop management software.
Why? Because auto repair shop software, like R.O. Writer, gives you all the tools you need to perform and report on every facet of shop operations, from service writing, to estimating, tracking time, scheduling resources, maintaining stock levels, searching repair guides, accessing supplier catalogs, and ordering parts.
When you run an operationally sound shop, and know how your shop is performing, you are positioned to consider new opportunities for growth, and make the right decisions for your business. A well-run shop also attracts employees and customers who value working with the best. By tracking and optimizing fundamentals like productivity, efficiency, shop culture, and customer service, you’ll be ready to pivot with the changing auto repair industry, ensuring your shop’s success.