Coinciding with the National Automobile Dealers Association Foundation launching a vast program to promote the value of service technician jobs, Asbury Automotive Group announced the rollout of its new healthcare and stock ownership programs that are a part of the dealer group’s strategic plan to focus on frontline roles in fixed operations and sales in a competitive talent market.
NADA insisted the auto retail industry is facing a critical shortage of service technicians, which will only get worse in the coming years if not addressed. As a result, the association and one of the largest publicly traded dealer groups are responding.
“We believe that exceptional guest experience starts internally, so we need to reward the team members who serve our customers every day. Our frontline service and sales team members play a critical role serving customers in the ever-changing landscape of the automotive industry,” Asbury Automotive Group chief executive officer and president David Hult said.
“We remain committed to rewarding them with opportunities to own a stake in our business and save on healthcare costs,” Hult continued.
Starting this year, Asbury said it will pay the weekly employee healthcare premium for the base health plan option on behalf of eligible A and B level technicians, body shop technicians, painters and foremen. The company’s base health plan payment can be applied toward other health plans that the company offers.
Eligible sales advisers, service advisers and body shop estimators are also offered the same opportunity, according to a news release Asbury distributed this week.
“We’re excited to be able to offer this cost-savings for our team members,” said John Hartman, Asbury’s senior vice president of operations. “Asbury will pay the costs of the premium while allowing our frontline staff to have more money in their pockets each week. Over time, the savings can be significant, and we’re confident it will have a positive impact on our team members and their families.”
This year also marked the beginning of the performance year for Asbury’s new frontline equity program, called the Asbury Owners Club. A & B level technicians, sales and service advisers, body shop technicians, painters and estimators, with at least one year of tenure, are eligible to earn an equity grant if they reach individual performance targets.
The company indicated the awards are expected to be made in the form of restricted stock units and will vest on a three-year schedule.
“Industry-leading programs such as company-paid employee premiums for healthcare and frontline equity are some of the many factors that make Asbury and our 83 dealerships great places to work,” Hartman said.
“As a company, we are fortunate to be in a position to award the frontline team members who take care of our guests every day and have such an important role in the health of our business,” he went on to say.
The company mentioned the frontline equity program is expected to be a part of Asbury’s new equity plan, which is subject to shareholder approval during the second quarter of.
More details about NADA workforce campaign
Unveiled during NADA Show 2019, the National Automobile Dealers Association Foundation has announced the next phase of its Workforce Initiative, which includes the launch of a new consumer-facing website — www.nadafoundation.org.
The efforts are designed to promote the value of service technician jobs and provide the first and only centralized source of all OEM and industry training programs and scholarship opportunities for aspiring technicians.
The NADA Foundation has also announced an initial round of donations for its multi-faceted Workforce Initiative, including:
— $50,000 from the National Auto Auction Association
— $50,000 from PACCAR
— $25,000 from Porsche
NADA Foundation has donated an additional $250,000 to the effort.
Association officials reiterated the auto retail industry is facing a critical shortage of service technicians, which will only get worse in the coming years if not addressed.
NADA estimated America’s technical colleges and training programs graduate approximately 37,000 new service technicians annually. Yet, the association projected the industry needs to replace roughly 76,000 technicians every year just to keep pace with retirements and new jobs in the sector — leaving an annual shortage of 39,000 trained technicians.
To close this gap, officials highlighted the NADA Foundation’s Workforce Initiative aims to promote the benefits of these jobs and make it far easier for interested individuals to learn about the training opportunities that are available to them locally.
“Before today, there was no coordinated, industry-wide, brand-neutral effort to increase the number of trained technicians we’re integrating into our workforce. But thanks to the NADA Foundation Workforce Initiative and the launch of nadafoundation.org, there finally is,” 2019 NADA chairman Charlie Gilchrist said.
“Promoting the tremendous benefits of service technician jobs and making it easier for interested students to find out about the training and scholarship opportunities available to them where they live is vital to addressing the service technician shortage that every dealer is facing,” Gilchrist continued.
“We need an initiative the entire auto industry can get behind, so I’m extremely proud of this effort,” Gilchrist added. “Our workforce is our absolute best asset as dealers, but we have to recruit, train and retain the best people if we want to continue providing our customers with the best experience possible.”
NADA noted the average dealership technician in the United States today makes $61,067 in salary, benefits, and has great opportunities for personal growth and career advancement. The association pointed out experienced technicians at franchised dealerships can make more than $100,000 annually, and service managers can make even more.
In addition to the website and interactive map of training and training and scholarship opportunities, the Workforce Initiative includes:
— New video stories where real technicians talk about both their work and the lifestyle provided by their career
— An integrated digital marketing effort to increase enrollments in automotive tech training programs – especially at OEM-sponsored programs, which place thousands of students each year into dealership careers
— A robust presence at national train-the-trainer conferences and events, to promote the benefits of technician careers with high school guidance counselors, community colleges, military separation officers at bases, and at major conferences like SEMA
— Actionable economic research to determine how to best recruit and retain techs
— The possible creation of a nationwide network of career fair events to bring students, career centers and dealers together for employment in their communities
NADA stated one of the immediate the goals of the Workforce Initiative is to fill OEM training programs to capacity. The association acknowledged that many seats in those OEM training programs go unfilled each year even though full-time employment is virtually guaranteed upon graduation.
NAAA shared why it’s supporting NADA’s initiative.
“Our focus is on identifying ways to recruit and retain the best employees. We are encouraged by the NADA Foundation who has invested time and resources in an online platform that will give us the tools we need to be effective in connecting with the education and training institutions,” NAAA chief executive officer Frank Hackett said.
NADA president and CEO Peter Welch also described why the association is putting so many resources into this project.
“Until the launch of nadafoundation.org, there was nowhere for a prospective technician to find out where their closest training program was located. For example, Toyota’s T-10 website shows where the Toyota programs are, and GM’s ASEP website shows where the GM programs are. But each ignore the other, leaving prospective students confused,” Welch said.
“Our new website brings together all OEM training programs onto the same map, through data provided by our friends at Auto Service Excellence (ASE). Now anyone can now find out where the closest ASE training program is located, public or private, regardless of manufacturer,” Welch continued.
“The auto retail industry has a fantastic story to tell about the tremendous careers we provide,” Welch went on to say. “We just need to get together and start telling it to the right people.”