The shortage of installers in car audio has become critical in some cases where it is causing retailers to lose money.
Many retailers admit they are leaving business on the table because they don’t have the proper number of installers. One store owner said his doors are closed at this point because of lack of an experienced installer. Nearly all of about 15 retailers contacted said finding and keeping trained technicians is a problem.
Franchise chain Tint World said it could place 6 installers immediately if they were available. “I’d say it’s definitely costing our industry business and costing growth,” said VP Dealer Operations/Vendor Manager Paul Pirro. “We need a real technical school for our craft and to tell people that there it is a career. You can easily make $50,000 and even more on commission; many people graduate from college and can’t make $50,000 a year.”
Car Tunes Stereo Center, Allen Park, MI, is short 3 installers for the 6-store chain. “I had to cut back on advertising for Christmas…It would be a waste of money to be able to drive my sales and not have the installers to do the work,” said Mark Constantakis. He added, “I talk to other dealers and everyone is talking the same thing; short-handed. One guy tried to fly people in and then put them up at a hotel during remote start season. He overbooked and had to fly in installers.”
Five-store chain Aspen Sound of Idaho said, “I definitely think it’s affecting business,” according to
Keith Kirk Payne. And Al DiMeo of Samm Sound in NJ agreed, “I think it’s reaching a crisis.”
Part of the problem is that some retailers are beginning to see business pick up since the recession. “Things are getting a little better and it’s requiring some extra staffing,” said J.R. Stocks of 7- store chain Freeman’s Stereo Video in NC which said it’s in need of a couple of installers.
It should be noted that many professions are seeing a shortage in workers from construction to manufacturing.
For example in construction, many of the 2 million workers laid off during recession have since found other work or have retired, leaving a current shortage. There are also critical shortages in skilled manufacturing workers, and in health care, agriculture and technology.
But here’s an example of one way to manage the problem. It requires viewing installer training as an ongoing cost of doing business.
Two years ago, Columbus Car Audio, with 2 stores in Ohio, was short on installers and couldn’t find one. So it began taking in younger, untrained applicants that simply had experience working with tools. “It’s been extremely successful,” said Owner Todd Hays. “We’re constantly taking applications and if we feel this kid might be someone worth looking at, we may bring him in for a training period and see if it works out.”
The trainee typically shadows the shop manager or assistant manager for a time, until he’s allowed to do some minor work..
“We just say we’re going to take a little hit on payroll for a few months and make an investment…We’ll know and he’ll know if he will work out in 30 to 60 days.
Photo via Mobile Solutions