Another Pandemic Challenge: Burnout

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COVID-19 burnout

With sales skyrocketing over recent months, the industry is experiencing yet another new problem: burnout.

The trend is actually widespread across many industries, as noted in a Wall Street Journal article November 9 called, “Companies Offer Creative Solutions to Worker Burnout During the Pandemic.”  As a result of the pandemic, corporations are training managers to deal with employee burn out. Some provide the option of reduced hours at a lower salary or “self care” days off to employees.

But in the car audio industry, where shops are short-staffed to begin with, the situation is compounded.

A query about burnout we posted on the Mobile Electronics Syndicate received over 90 comments, about quadruple the typical response to our questions.

Dealers we spoke with around the country are offering a few mental health days off to employees, providing cash bonuses and raises, and trying, though often unsuccessfully, to find additional employees. Some shops will also turn away work, if necessary.

Basin Tint & Sound, NM lost its top installer of 17 years due to burnout. The tech took a government job on a nearby military base with “crazy good benefits,” said Owner Ben King. “We’re not working any more hours than we normally do, but the workload is increased. I think the big thing is we’re so busy and shorthanded the guys haven’t been able to take as much personal time as they’d like.”

Mark D’Elia of SoundFX, RI said, “Last month revenue was up 75 percent. We’re up 20 percent year over year and we were closed for two months, so you can imagine the stress we’ve all experienced.” His advice is, “Keep communicating, buying lunch, buying coffee, doing reviews, pay a little more and maybe a little more bonus. He also tells employees they can take a day or ½ day off. “It’s been a very prosperous year.  We don’t have to be greedy.”

Car Tunes, MI lost three employees earlier this year due to the stress of the sales boom. “We were up 70 plus percent every month over the prior year and it was very challenging for the installers to keep up with it.”

Sound Warehouse, UT closed the shop for four days this spring with paid days off to give employees a rest.  It will also offer Christmas bonuses.

Many said the burn out is more than just the stress at work. It’s also the stress of uncertainty due to the pandemic.    With his travels and talks with dealers around the country, Jason Kranitz store owner and industry trainer said, “People are burned out because of the unknown, because they can’t get back to their normal lives… I think that more store owners are paying attention to the mental side of all this.”

Jodi O’Connor of Jodi’s Sound Centers, CT added, “Burnout is real.  It’s more than ever.  The nine hour day we used to do really feels like nine rounds with Mike Tyson now.”

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