Australian Salary trends for Truck, Agricultural and Earthmoving Equipment Dealerships (2019/20)

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As the financial year comes to a close (with a second half none of us saw coming!), it’s a great time to reflect on the remuneration trends we’ve seen within dealerships selling Trucks, Farm Machinery and Earthmoving equipment.

This year, COVID-19 threw a major spanner in the works for Job Seekers! Thankfully, our industries have not been impacted too greatly by redundancies. Nevertheless, the candidate market is very wary with most job seekers facing fears about job security and “last in, first out” redundancies, if they were to change jobs now. Sadly, this concern is likely here to stay until the economy recovers.

As with last year’s review, 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 some industries heating up, the quest for great talent is becoming more and more competitive. Employers are starting to realise that they must provide attractive employment benefits as a way of making their workplace stand out from the competition.

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. If you’d like more information about these services, please reach out.

NOTE: All salaries are exclusive of Superannuation.

Diesel Mechanic/Technician Salary Trends

Technician wages growth has continued since our report last year, with dealerships now having to pay well above the award rate to remain competitive.

Metro areas have remained stable, 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 upwards of $37 p/hr 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 Mechanics.

Across the board, over the past twelve months, we have had little success placing Diesel Mechanics in roles paying 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 has become increasingly difficult to source great Diesel Technicians at that rate.

Dealership Branch Manager/General Manager Salary Trends

Over the last year, we have seen a wide range of 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, although still concentrated around Agricultural dealerships, are also picking up in the Truck and Equipment space. Most roles are overseeing teams of around 10 – 15 staff and usually also include another responsibility such as Sales or Workshop Management. For these roles, base salaries have remained stable at $80,000 – $100,000. Geographical location seems to be 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 highly subjective due to the varying responsibilities within roles as well as company size. With a number of high-profile roles worked on this year, our database has increased considerably with GM-level candidates wanting to find special roles that will challenge them. Virtually all of these candidates have six-figure salaries in mind, but for them it’s more about the challenge of the position. Therefore, some of these candidates are willing to step down or sideways in earnings to obtain that great role.

Of the General Management roles we worked on in 2019/2020, based paid anywhere between $150,000 and $250,000 with healthy incentive packages designed to reward performance.

If you are on the lookout for a General Manager for your business, please reach out. As a result of our extensive network and database of industry candidates, we can often find a number of quality candidates in a short period of time.

Dealership Service Manager Salary Trends

In the past twelve months, we have seen dealerships continue to put more emphasis on their service departments and, with that, there have been 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 in tying the department together.

We have found salaries in metro areas for Service Managers are now upwards of $100,000 plus incentives. 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 $120,000. As has been the case in the past, most of our Service Manager placements have included a vehicle and a bonus or incentive system, which adds 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 not only result in more candidates applying for these roles, but also candidates who are happy to start on a base that is 10% – 15% lower than that of an experienced Service Manager.

Service Managers continue to be in high demand, something we can likely put down to the low number of Diesel Technicians we have seen come into the trade over the last few years.

Dealership Parts Manager Salary Trends

We said last year that Parts Manager roles managing at least one other person should have a base salary of at least $80,000, as well as an incentive or bonus scheme to reward performance. This has not changed and still appears to be the minimum requirement from the market. The biggest challenge you face with Parts Managers is supplying a company vehicle. This is now expected by most of the market and opting out of this will significantly reduce your pool of candidates.

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 dealers are still offering below market salary packages, however this is removing any opportunity to relocate great candidates from other areas, and as a result, 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

The wage increase for Parts Interpreters has continued to rise at a quicker rate than most other positions – making up for lost time. Base salaries are now ranging from a minimum of $55,000 to $75,000 per annum, depending on experience and location. In the roles we saw in 2019/2020, those paying less than $55,000 found it extremely difficult to find suitable applicants.

Metropolitan-based roles have remained at around $65,000 in cities like Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and $75,000 – $78,000 for Sydney and Melbourne.

Regional averages are beginning to increase to $60,000 – $65,000 with some regions still paying below $55,000. However, these lower paid roles are becoming increasingly difficult to entice dealership experienced candidates to the role. To remain competitive in regional areas, most dealerships are needing to be around $60,000 for an experienced candidate.

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 customer service standards. Commercial vehicle/machinery dealerships are attractive to these candidates because they usually don’t have to work Saturdays anymore and they can get a pay rise!

There are a number of automotive Service Advisors around at the moment due to the hit their industry has taken from COVID-19, so if you’ve been thinking of giving someone with this background a try, now is a great time!

Dealership Sales Consultant Salary Trends

With a considerable amount of Sales roles worked on last financial year across all industries, we’re continuing to get a really good indication where retainers and incentive programs are heading.

Most Agricultural dealerships are continuing to pay base retainers of $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. We haven’t seen too much increase above $65,000 in the roles we worked on, although $60,000 is fast becoming the minimum.

Truck dealerships have increased over the last 12 months, with base retainers on average getting closer to the $70,000 in metro areas and $60,000 in regional areas.

Equipment dealerships tend to have higher retainers usually due to the lower volume and higher priced items. Retainers for these dealers has remained stable at 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

As we come out of COVID and with competition for the best talent heating up, it is 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”.

The best place to start is by sitting down with your team and asking, “Why would people want to work here and not our competitors?” If these answers do not come easily, then your next step is to create change so that you can.

Now that you are aware of what makes you stand out – you need to sell it! Promote these unique differences in your job ads and, most importantly, your interviews! Now is the time to give candidates those warm and fuzzy feelings.

Finally, you need to ensure that you are nailing your interviewing and recruitment process!

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 have really seen dealerships step up is with interviewing and relocation costs. 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.

We have also seen improvements in offering relocation costs, with the vast majority of regional management roles now offering some form of relocation assistance. This can be a huge incentive for candidates to move and could open up a new market of candidates to the role.

Any improvements dealers can make through the interviewing and onboarding process will pay huge dividends when it comes to attracting and keeping the best talent.

For other financial year salary reviews, view our previous article from FY 18/19 and our most recent FY 20/21 article.

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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