In response to the growing challenges faced by the collision repair industry in retaining and attracting skilled technicians, I-CAR, in collaboration with the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), engaged with Ducker Carlisle, a global consulting firm, to conduct a technician satisfaction survey researching their opinions on compensation, culture and career opportunities.

This comprehensive white paper showcases the unique perspective of collision repair technicians and aims to better understand their sentiments and career outlook while identifying key factors influencing their workplace satisfaction.

This survey, which was conducted in 2023 and involved more than 800 collision repair technicians, provided valuable insights into various aspects of the profession. Ducker Carlisle's comprehensive experience in the automotive space and their history of surveying, analyzing and benchmarking the perspective of diesel and mechanical technicians was instrumental in helping the collision repair industry understand recruitment and retention challenges. The survey also allowed a basis for comparison between those two automotive service sectors which often compete with the collision repair industry for technician talent.

"The white paper's groundbreaking results shed light on critical areas that need attention within our industry," said Dara Goroff, vice president of planning and industry talent programming. "We're already starting to provide solutions that address the issues contributing to attrition with the goal of enhancing technician satisfaction to help the industry attract, engage, educate and retain the top talent that will foster the industry's sustainability, growth and success."

The white paper sheds light on critical areas, including:

Overall Satisfaction: While collision techs express higher satisfaction than dealer service counterparts, more than a quarter are still considering leaving their roles. They are are also hesitant to recommend the career to others.

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Compensation and Pay Plans: High earning potential exists, as a large portion of tenured techs earn more than $100,000 per year, but disparities based on experience and shop type create barriers for newer techs. More than 60% of techs are on flat rate pay plans, which is also very unpopular -- flat rate technicians overwhelmingly would not recommend the career.

Benefits Offerings: Lack of clear offerings or awareness poses a challenge in attracting and retaining talent. Health insurance and paid time off are only offered by about 15% of shops (see chart.)

Career Outlook & Progression: Nearly half are dissatisfied with or unaware of advancement opportunities. This is a problem for the industry -- opportunity for career advancement is very strongly correlated with overall technician satisfaction. In addition, technicians who may be looking for other opportunities don’t have to look far, as they are regularly being recruited by competing shops.

Technical Training: Average dissatisfaction highlights the need for improved and consistent training options. Investing in training opportunities is an important way for shops to demonstrate they value their technicians and want to provide strong growth and career paths. Of course, improved training offerings also benefit the shop as the shop gains a higher skilled workforce -- it’s a win-win.

New Technology: Collision techs express excitement about working on emerging technologies, offering a potential recruiting advantage.

"The industry recognizes that collision repair technicians are indispensable to our business operations. Their pivotal role is evident, and the current industry landscape, marked by an annual turnover rate of 30% to 40% among technicians, underscores the challenges we face," added Aaron Schulenberg, executive director of SCRS. "In light of the pressing technician retention crisis, understanding the sentiments and career outlook of our skilled technicians has become a paramount concern for the industry's sustained success."

While recruiting new technicians is important, retaining those already employed is just as, if not more important.

For more detailed findings and insights, the complete white paper is available for viewing on I-CAR's website.

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