The Link Between Millennials and Your Auto Dealership’s Service Center

By Adam Robinson,
March 4, 2016

An article published The Atlantic highlighted the fact that millennials weren’t big on buying cars during the first decade or so in the 21st century. As Sheryl Connelly, head of global consumer trends at Ford, explained it: Generation Y values ‘access over ownership.’

While that may have held true for a brief period of time, it seems that time – and responsibility – has caught up with millennials. A 2015 J.D. Power & Associates report found that millennials were a major force behind new car sales. In fact, more than a quarter – 27 percent – were attributed to this demographic. This is partly due to the fact that they’re such a huge group, but it can also be attributed to the fact that time marches on and adult milestones – including buying homes and having children – are happening to millennials more than they’d probably like to admit.

Meanwhile, auto sales have slowed since 2010 after the significant uptick in activity, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Because auto sales will ultimately be hard to predict with future

generations, auto dealerships are seeking out other ways to increase the profitability of their businesses. One source of significant opportunity are vehicle service centers.

One of the big reasons why service centers are so critical to auto dealership’s success is the revenue they bring to the business overall. Citing data from an industry report, the Sun-Sentinel indicated between 40 and 45 percent of a dealership’s total profits are derived from service and parts department.

Generation Y

Very quickly, millennials will be the majority in most businesses. Car Biz Today News highlighted the fact that they’ll make up 75 percent of the workforce within the next 15 years. In fact, auto dealerships are already feeling the impact. Upwards of 27 percent of total employment in auto dealerships is made up of millennial workers. However, auto dealerships are facing a shortage of auto mechanics. This has partially been blamed on millennials’ desire for jobs in high-tech fields which don’t require much knowledge of the mechanics physical machinery.

One barrier to entry in this field is also the lingering effects of student loan debt. The Sun-Sentinel explained that a 15-month certification at Universal Technical Institute required one auto mechanic to take out $36,000 for tuition and other expenses. On the plus side, it’s likely he’ll be able to earn a minimum of $50,000 per year in his career.

Still, many millennials are still hesitant about working in a service department because of the perceived knowledge barrier. This has inspired some dealerships to adjust the pool of talent they look through to find the right employees. AutoNation, for instance, is using more user-friendly software that allows individuals who aren’t seasoned gearheads to feel confident in their roles within the service department. This gives the dealership more flexibility in bringing in people from hospitality and customer experience and engagement backgrounds. These individuals are able to strengthen relationships with consumers, which can help alleviate issues with maintenance should they arise.

Creating an intuitive technology infrastructure for millennials in the service center may be the way for more dealerships to attract this large and diverse talent pool. One thing that millennials crave in a position is being able to access information anywhere and anytime to perform their role well. This enables them to be more productive, gain valuable experience and ultimately move forward with their careers. An added bonus of having more millennials in the service departments is giving Gen Y consumers a familiar face to interact with when they bring their vehicles in. Millennials notoriously depend on the advice and recommendations of peers, especially when making purchasing decisions. Auto dealerships can leverage this to their advantage if they hire smart.

How To Find Better Candidates

Building a high-quality service department staffed with millennials is a project that auto dealerships should take on ahead of time. Each position in your dealership service center demands a specific skills set, but you also need to pay close attention to attitude, character and culture when bringing on new talent. Hireology gives auto dealers the keys to finding ideal candidates and vetting them thoroughly.

For more information on how Hireology can help your dealership’s hiring needs, register for our upcoming Automotive News webinar below!

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and learn how to build your best team.