The shortage in car audio installers has prompted many retailers to begin “growing their own” technicians, and soon there will be a way to make that an easier task.
Mobile Solutions, the training facility known for its fabrication classes, is adding a new program for beginner installers.
CEO of Mobile Solutions Brian Schmitt said the new classes “will help bring in this new generation. The cars get more complicated every single day and the technicians are not keeping up. We’re not keeping to the technology pace.”
A growing problem is that new technicians are making costly errors because they don’t know the basics of taking a car apart and putting it back together. At least one big box retailer has seen its insurance claims soar because of mistakes by new techs, he said.
“Modern vehicles are very difficult. A lot of these new guys are breaking the cars,” he said. “Dealers are scared to let a new guy work on a $40,000 car and ruin it. If we can show where the clips come apart and where the screws are, it’s 50 percent of the job. Just taking the car apart and putting it back together and running the wires. No classes teach that; they are so worried about Ohms Law and theory. Audio theory is important, but is really secondary to the experience of how to actually work on modern vehicles so you are not breaking panels, screwing dry wall screws the floor and puncturing gas tanks.”
There’s also basic safety practices. You can’t have a 50-pound subwoofer box unsecured to the car because it can become a projectile if the car’s in an accident. And dry wall screws through the floor can ruin the car.
The class is expected to start by early next year. It will cover four basic areas in installation, including taking apart and reassembling cars and then running wires and making solid wiring connections. The third topic is on how to properly mount components in the car and the fourth is system design.
A number of dealers we polled say they are training newcomers after giving up on finding seasoned installers.
With four stores, California Custom Sounds Dayton, OH launched an in-house training program over two years ago. It hires people from outside the industry– someone who changed oil, a truck driver, or friends of customers. It’s become an expense of doing business. “We realized 2 1/2 years ago the old mentality that you’re going to put them in a bay with an installer doesn’t work. We have to pay the installer to train him and pay the trainee enough to pay his bills…above minimum wage,”said Zack Knoop. About 2/3rds of the trainees have been a success. “They are generally appreciative of the fact that you’ve taught them a new skill,” he said.