The aftermarket needs new people. What are you doing about it?

user-gravatar Headshot
Updated May 16, 2019

With each passing day, the aftermarket’s employee shortage expands. Maybe not at your store. Maybe you just filled the one position that’s been open for six weeks and you’re flying high. If so, congratulations. It’s not like that for most of your colleagues.

The heavy-duty aftermarket is an aging industry. A 2016 survey of our audience determined 68.1 percent of Truck Parts & Service readers were at least 51 years old. I don’t have the results of our 2019 report yet — they are being tabulated now, check with me in a month — but I’d be willing to wager that percentage hasn’t shifted much in the last three years. We’ve added some young people, yes, but for the most part we’re all just three years older.

Why bring this up?

I think you already know. With two-thirds of us clocking in at 51 or older, we are staring a mass retirement exodus in the face and I don’t know what we have done to prepare for it.

Note: When I say “we,” I’m referring to all of us. The entire aftermarket. The “royal we,” as Jeffrey Lebowski would say. I don’t mean you and me.

But stop and think about this for a second: What are you doing to actively recruit people into the aftermarket?

I know a lot of service providers are looking to vocational programs, trying to develop relationships with high schools and colleges that are educating the next generation of heavy-duty diesel technicians. In the service channel I think that’s an absolute necessity. The Tech Force Foundation estimates the industry will need to hire nearly 30,000 technicians in 2019. A shortage that large is too big to solve with “Now Hiring” signs in the window, classified ads in the newspaper and online.

Yet the aftermarket’s employment shortage isn’t just a tech thing. Finding inside and outside salespeople is challenging and finding qualified management people without promoting from within is downright impossible. I guess you can poach, if that’s your bag, but that doesn’t solve our problem. It doesn’t add new talent.

So, what are you doing to address our employee shortage? How are you putting yourself and your business in front of young people and educating them on the career opportunities in the aftermarket? It doesn’t matter if you fall in our 51-or-over category or not; if you have any intention of staying in this industry for more than a year, you should be recruiting.

Maybe that means going to technical schools like your service counterparts, telling those students there’s more opportunities in trucking than working in a service bay. Maybe the answer is career fairs. Find those students who don’t want to work at Google, Amazon or Apple and make sure they know there will always be jobs in the aftermarket. Good jobs, too, with competitive salaries, benefits, paid time off and the potential to meet some of the nicest folks you’ll ever come to know.

I know what you’re thinking: “What about you? What are you doing, Mr. Editor?” That’s a fair point. I can recruit for the aftermarket as well. I am incredibly vocal and supportive about this industry in my personal life but I recognize I can do more. I’ll step it up.

But fixing this shortage ultimately falls on your shoulders. This is your business. You’re the ones selling parts every day. If you want to keep doing so, it’s time for action.

Learn how to move your used trucks faster
With unsold used inventory depreciating at a rate of more than 2% monthly, efficient inventory turnover is a must for dealers. Download this eBook to access proven strategies for selling used trucks faster.
Used Truck Guide Cover