Stoughton automotive shop owner shares his solution to alleviate mechanic shortage

Getting your car serviced is becoming more of a challenge.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 10:37 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Getting your car serviced is becoming more of a challenge. That’s because there’s less people out there to do it.

Joe Conant, owner of Conant Automotive in Stoughton, said scheduling a service appointment is becoming more like scheduling a doctor’s appointment, having to do so months in advance.

“(It’s) the same thing… and that’s not right,” Conant said.

Auto mechanic shortages aren’t anything new but continue to be an issue which plagues local automotive repair shops in Dane County and across the United States.

“I’m very fortunate that I have a full staff,” Conant said.

So why isn’t it getting any better? Conant said it’s because the pool of people coming into the industry is drying up.

“You’re going to see a lot of shops closing because… one guy retires and nobody is there to take its place,” Conant said.

Despite this, Conant said the benefits for new hires are better than ever before.

“As long as I can remember, it’s never been the opportunities out there for people young,” Conant said. “To get into (this) career, a field that can pay them well, take care of them, it’s out there.”

According to a 2021 TechForce Foundation report, the industry is projected to be short almost 800,000 technicians between now and 2025.

Conant said the solution for his store is shortening work weeks down to four days.

“I believe that’s going to be our savior for our trades and really push to get people into the trades,” Conant said.

It’s yet another way to make the job more appealing while maximizing productivity on his store’s busiest days.

“Our peak usage ramps up really high on Sunday, falls off a little bit on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, it ramps up Thursday, and Friday it falls down to nothing,” Conant said. “It’s like well if we go by… that road map, we should really be open Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.”

Conant argues the conventional 40-hour work week, which was popularized by Henry Ford, is dated.

“We’re going with something that’s 100 years old,” Conant said. “We can revamp it.”

This change will give Conant’s employees 52 additional days off per year.

Conant said his staff will still be getting paid 40 hours worth despite working a day less each week.

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