We Need To Re-Brand The Technician Profession

kyp blog“R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me.” 

Being from Detroit and an old 60s R & B fan, the words of that great song by Aretha Franklin come to mind when I consider the way the aftermarket industry often refers to one of its most necessary professions. This is a profession without which the industry would cease to exist as we know it.  I am referring, of course, to the technicians.

I have just come from a few industry events and continue to be surprised by industry insiders referring to automotive technicians as mechanics or installers.  When I hear these terms, I sometimes think we in the industry are our own worst enemies.   If we want the motoring public to have trust in and respect for the independent aftermarket shouldn’t we exhibit respect for the profession that drives the industry?

Consider that the average ASE certified technician has the equivalent of a 2-year engineering degree.  Consider that today’s vehicles are rolling computers far more complicated then the average PC.  The skill and training necessary to service today’s vehicles puts auto techs far above other trade workers in terms of the knowledge they need and the complexity of their jobs.

Now consider how other industries refer to their highly technically trained workers.  Apple, for example, refers to its technical workers as geniuses and you bring your Mac or iPad to the “Genius Bar” when you have issues.   Yet we often call our highly trained workers “installers”.  Yes, they install the parts we make and distribute, just like the “genius” in the Apple Store might install more RAM or software for you. But they also perform complex diagnosis on the vehicles they service.  People who lay carpet are installers, people who service complex vehicles are technicians.

The independent aftermarket has to be about quality if it is to thrive in the future…  quality parts, quality people, quality service. Parts are not just parts. The research and development that goes into great aftermarket parts is expensive and intensive. That’s the reason for the Know Your Parts Campaign. People who go through intensive and continued training to be able to effectively work on complex vehicles are not just installers or mechanics. They are automotive technicians.  Let’s all try to remember that and respect the profession in both our internal and external communications.