Australian Salary Trends for Truck, Agricultural and Earthmoving Equipment Dealerships (2018/2019)

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As we say goodbye to the financial year, it’s a great time to look back at the remuneration trends we’ve seen within dealerships selling Trucks, Farm Machinery and Earthmoving equipment.

We thought we’d focus on several positions that are universal across all three industries: Technicians, Branch Managers/General Managers, Service Managers, Parts Managers, Parts Interpreters, Service Advisors and Sales Consultants.

With the quest for great talent becoming more and more competitive, employers are finding they must provide attractive employment benefits as a way of making their workplace stand out. We’ve included some of the best new employment benefit packages/ideas we’ve seen throughout the year.

If you’d like a free appraisal of your current salary structure/packages and how that might compare in the market, please contact us and we’d be more than happy to chat with you.

We can also offer assistance with training and consulting around employee attraction and retention.

NOTE: All salaries mentioned in this article are exclusive of Superannuation.

Diesel Mechanic/Technician Salary Trends

Technician wages continue to be among the fastest growing salaries in the industry, with dealerships now having to pay well above the award rate to remain competitive.

Metro areas have shown significant increases, with most dealerships paying anywhere from $33 p/hr up to $40 p/hr for Technicians. Significant differences have developed between major cities, for example in Brisbane, hourly rates are still around the $34 p/hr mark, whereas in Melbourne or Sydney, average wages have gone up to $38 p/hr.

Regional areas have seen the biggest increase in wages but are also still experiencing the largest discrepancies in hourly rates between dealerships. Over the past twelve months, we have come across anything from $28 p/hr all the way up to $55 p/hr. To remain truly competitive in regional areas, we have found hourly rates need to be at that magic $35 p/hr mark with an additional $2 p/hr and a vehicle for Field Service roles.

Areas where mining has really picked up, such as Central New South Wales, Central Queensland and across WA, have seen the most significant gains, with some dealerships having to pay well over $40 p/hr, including a vehicle, to attract Diesel Technicians.

Across the board, over the past twelve months we have only had one Diesel Mechanic placement below $30 p/hr, with the vast majority attracting an hourly rate of $35 p/hr or above. While many dealers are still paying low $30’s p/hr, it is becoming more and more difficult to source great Diesel Technicians at that rate.

Dealership Branch Manager/General Manager Salary Trends

In the last 12 months, we’ve seen an increase in Senior Management positions coming across our desk. We separate these into Branch Managers (those who oversee one location, and often have another role within the dealership e.g. Sales or Service Manager) and General Managers (those who oversee an entire operation).

The increase in Branch Manager vacancies seems to be concentrated around Agricultural dealerships, with most overseeing teams of around 10 – 15 staff. These roles usually also include another responsibility such as Sales or Workshop Management. For these roles, base salaries between $80,000 – $100,000 seem to be the norm, with geographical location playing a large part in dictating the variance. Convincing a candidate to relocate their family to a regional or remote location can attract a huge additional salary consideration and/or housing assistance.

In terms of incentives for these roles, Branch Managers are generally paid a percentage of the profitability of the Branch as well as rewarding performance for their secondary responsibility (i.e. sales commission or workshop efficiency). All roles we have seen have offered a company vehicle, phone and laptop.

General Manager salaries are very subjective due to the differences between the responsibility of roles and the size of companies. We have seen our database increase considerably with GM level candidates wanting to find a special role that is going to challenge them, and essentially all of these candidates have six-figure salaries in mind.

On average, these roles are paying bases anywhere between $100,000 – $180,000 with healthy incentive packages designed to reward performance.

Dealership Service Manager Salary Trends

In the past twelve months, we have seen dealerships put more emphasis on their service departments and, with that, some changes to Service Manager roles.

Many dealerships that previously just had a Workshop Foreman in place, are now recognising the importance of Service Managers to tie the department together.

We have found salaries in metro areas for Service Managers are now upwards of $100,000 plus incentives on top of that. In fact, we did not place a single Service Manager in a capital city with a base salary of less than $100,000, over the past twelve months.

We have seen a wider range for regional areas, where base salaries can be as low as mid-$60,000’s and as high as $90,000. As has been in the past, most of our Service Manager placements have included a vehicle and a bonus or incentive system, which will see them add an additional $20,000 to $30,000 to their base.

Another interesting trend has been for dealerships to find experienced Diesel Technicians with leadership skills and train them into a Service Manager position. This will often result in more candidates and candidates who are happy to start on a base that’s 10% – 15% lower than that of an experienced Service Manager.

Dealership Parts Manager Salary Trends

Due to the high volume of Parts Manager roles we have worked on this year, we are starting to get a much clearer picture of the average remuneration packages across all three industries. Feedback from the market is that roles overseeing at least two Parts Interpreters should have a base salary of around $80,000, as well as an incentive or bonus scheme to reward performance. A company vehicle is almost always supplied.

Variations between metro and regional locations is probably the least pronounced for Parts Managers, with packages varying more on the size of the department, rather than the location.

Some vacancies are still being worked on with smaller salary packages, however this is removing any opportunity to relocate the right candidate and are only attracting locals to the position.

Over the last 12 months, we have seen placements range between $80,000 – $120,000 base salary.

Dealership Parts Interpreter Salary Trends

In the last 12 months, we have seen the wages for Parts Interpreters begin to increase at a greater rate than most positions. We are now starting to see the range for base salaries fall anywhere between $50,000 – $75,000 per annum, depending on experience and location.

Metropolitan based roles have risen to around $65,000 in cities like Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and $75,000 for Sydney and Melbourne.

Regional averages are now beginning to increase to between $55,000 – $65,000 with some regions still paying below $55,000. However, these lower paid roles are becoming increasingly more difficult to source candidates for, other than those already living in the local area. To remain competitive in regional areas, most dealerships are needing to be at the $55,000 base as a minimum.

Incentives based on Sales Targets or Department Targets are becoming common across all industries and the market is beginning to expect this as the norm.

Dealership Service Advisor Salary Trends

Service Advisors continue to play an essential role in a large number of dealerships, as more and more dealerships start to work on improving their customer service in Aftersales.

Interestingly we have seen much lower discrepancies in salaries between regional and metropolitan areas for Heavy Vehicle and Machinery Service Advisors. Although we have seen salaries as low as $50,000 in some regional areas, to successfully remain competitive most dealerships are now, on average, paying a minimum base of $55,000.

Incentive and bonus schemes are still popular with Service Advisor vacancies, meaning most Service Advisors are able to take home an additional $10,000 – $15,000 on top of their base salary.

If you’re looking for a proven performer, experienced Service Advisors are now getting base salaries of up to $65,000 plus incentives. In regional and remote areas, where competition is extremely tough, we have seen base salaries up to $80,000, but this is rare.

An interesting trend we have seen over the past twelve months is the interest in Service Advisors from automotive dealerships. They have become quite popular due to the high-volume environment they are exposed to and their high standards of customer service. Commercial vehicle/machinery dealerships are attractive to these candidates because they usually don’t have to work Saturdays anymore and get a pay rise!

Dealership Sales Consultant Salary Trends

With quite a few Sales roles worked on this year across all industries, we’re starting to get a pretty good indication where retainers and incentive programs are heading.

Most Agricultural dealerships are paying base retainers of between $55,000 – $65,000 plus a commission package of around 10% of the gross profit on what is sold. A company vehicle, phone and laptop are almost always provided.

A similar story is evident for Truck dealerships, although base retainers are closer to $60,000 – $70,000.

Equipment dealerships tend to have higher retainers usually due to the lower volume and higher priced items. Retainers for these dealers are generally around $80,000 – $90,000 plus either a percentage (1% – 3%) of the purchase price, or a share of the GP (10%).

General Employment Trends within Dealerships

With competition for the best talent heating up, it’s becoming increasingly important for dealerships to stand out from their competitors as a great place to work. Gone are the days where employees’ incentives are that “they get to keep their job”.

This past year, we’ve particularly seen some great initiatives to try and attract Diesel Mechanics, and feedback from the market has been positive. These include:

  • 4 day working weeks with 3-day weekends (10hr shifts)
  • 7 on/7 off rosters
  • Ongoing training and career pathways

We’re also seeing the interview and onboarding process as an area where improvements are being well received.

Less interviews and faster turnaround on job offers, are among the most important things candidates have indicated they want improved over the last 12 months. A quick turnaround from interview to job offer, is well received by strong candidates and can make a huge difference in reducing those rejected offers.

Another area we are seeing clients step up, is around travel costs for interviews. Many of the roles we work on require candidates to travel interstate for interviews. Dealerships seeking management staff, are now more inclined to pay for the travel expenses to and from interstate interviews and it’s having a positive impact on the candidate’s ownership of the role. They feel more valued and, in our experience, are more likely to accept an offer and start off with their best foot forward.

Any improvements dealers can make through the interviewing and onboarding process will have a huge benefit to attracting and keeping the best talent.

For more recent financial year salary reviews, you can view our articles from FY19/20 and FY 20/21.

Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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