Australian Salary trends for Truck, Agricultural and Earthmoving Equipment Dealerships (2020/21)

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Despite COVID causing a lot of uncertainty for some industries in 2020 and 2021, ours has powered on through with strong sales across the sector. Sales have been so strong that availability of stock is now causing issues, particularly with logistical challenges from overseas.

Since August last year we have seen more and more recruitment assignments come our way, indicating that there is a need for experienced industry staff that haven’t been forthcoming in the usual job market channels. So much so that the second half of this Financial Year has been Teamrecruit’s busiest on record!

With all the data we’ve collected over the past 12 months, we look at July as a great time to reflect on the remuneration trends we’ve seen within dealerships selling Trucks, Farm Machinery and Earthmoving/Construction Equipment.

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 and Sales Consultants. This year we’ve also seen a number of OEM based roles come up, so we’ve also offered some commentary on those.

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

While Technician wages have increased slightly compared to what we saw last year, the shortage of quality candidates has become much more obvious as more people leave the trade, and are not replaced by new Apprentices or overseas workers (due to COVID travel restrictions).

Metro areas have remained stable with last year, with most dealerships paying anywhere from $35 p/hr up to $45 p/hr for Technicians. Significant differences still exist between major cities; for example, in Brisbane hourly rates are still around the $35 – $40 p/hr mark, whereas in Melbourne or Sydney, average wages have gone up to over $40 p/hr.

Regional areas have also remained stable this year but are still showing the largest discrepancies in hourly rates between dealerships. This year we have come across anything from $27 p/hr all the way up to $60 p/hr. To remain truly competitive in regional areas, we have found that hourly rates need to be upwards of $37 – $40 p/hr with an additional $2 – $4 p/hr and vehicle for Field Service roles.

These past 12 months have probably been the worst we’ve seen in 12 years in terms of a shortage of skilled candidates. Not only is it hard to find quality staff, if you’re lucky enough to do so, you’ll be competing against their existing employer who will throw money at them to make them stay!

Dealership Branch Manager/General Manager Salary Trends

Throughout the last 12 months, we’ve seen more Senior Management vacancies coming across our desk than any year prior. We separate these into Branch Managers (those who oversee one or two locations and sometimes have another role within the dealership e.g. Sales or Service Manager) and General Managers (those who oversee an entire operation/business unit).

While most Branch Manager vacancies this year continued to concentrate around Agricultural dealerships, we also saw an increase in similar positions at Truck and Earthmoving/Construction Equipment dealerships. Most roles are overseeing teams of around 10 – 15 staff and sometimes included another responsibility such as Sales or Workshop Management. For these roles, base salaries have received a bump and are now starting more around the $100,000 to $150,000 lever. Dealership size and 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 step sideways in earnings to obtain that great role.

Of the General Management roles we worked on in 2020/2021, salaries on offer were anywhere between $180,000 and $300,000 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 without the need for advertising.

Dealership Service Manager Salary Trends

The increasing rates required to secure good quality Technicians is having the unintended consequence of increasing base salaries for Service Managers – after all, your Service Manager will want to be taking home more money than their Technicians (generally speaking).

Metro based Service Manager salaries are still at a minimum of $100,000 plus incentives, however it is becoming more common to see these around the $120,000 mark.

Regional Service Manager roles are now also sitting around the $100,000 to $120,000 mark and above plus incentives to entice people to your location. A couple of years ago the average Service Manager’s role sat around $80,000 plus a vehicle, however with most Technicians taking home more than this, it has pushed the expected salary well above that.

Offering a vehicle and incentives as part of a Service Manager’s package in both regional and metro locations is now a non-negotiable as pretty much every dealership is doing this.

It appears advertised salaries haven’t kept up with the market, and as a result we have seen increased difficulties in securing top performing Service Managers. We envisage this to continue into 2022.

Dealership Parts Manager Salary Trends

The biggest change in recent years regarding Parts Managers is everything that makes up the total package outside of the base salary. It is fast becoming a non-negotiable that you need to offer a company vehicle to Parts Managers as part of their package. In the last 12 months, over 80% of our Parts Manager roles have provided a vehicle to the successful candidate. Not providing a vehicle will prevent you from accessing a large portion of the candidate market as once candidates have a company vehicle, they will not leave their role for another one without a vehicle.

Incentives or commissions (usually tied to parts sales) are also fast becoming a staple of a Parts Manager’s salary package. If you aren’t offering this as part of your package, we recommend commencing work on creating an incentive scheme as soon this will be expected within the market.

Regarding salary, not too much has changed in the last 12 months. However, it has become clearer that any salary below $80,000 is well below the market rate now. Any Parts Manager’s role managing at least one employee must have a minimum base salary of $80,000 to remain competitive.

Dealership Parts Interpreter Salary Trends

We said last year that Interpreters’ wages were rising at a quicker rate than most other positions and this has remained true through the last 12 months.

Base salaries for Interpreters are now sitting at $60,000 – $80,000 depending on the location of the role. Some dealerships are still getting away with paying c. $55,000 for an Interpreter, however this is limiting the pool of candidates interested in the role.

Metropolitan-based roles have increased to c. $68,000 – $70,000 in cities like Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, and to $75,000 – $80,000 for Sydney and Melbourne.

Regional averages are creeping up as well and will need to continue enticing candidates out to those areas. Any roles offering less than $60,000 – $65,000 is not appealing to people to relocate for and therefore leaves dealers only searching for locals. We have seen a clear and distinct correlation between advertising a higher base salary and receiving more out of town interest.

Dealership Sales Consultant Salary Trends

With several assignments in Sales last financial year across all industries, we’re continuing to get a really good indication of where retainers and incentive programs are heading, although availability of experienced candidates has declined in recent months. And with stock availability problems, it can be hard for Sales Consultants to stay motivated!

Most Agricultural dealerships are now paying base retainers of at least $60,000 plus a commission package of around 10% of the profit on what is sold. That said, roles advertised at this rate are getting fewer and fewer applications.

Truck dealerships have remained somewhat stable over the last 12 months, with base retainers increasing only slightly, now on average around $70,000 to $80,000 in metro areas and $65,000 to $70,000 in regional areas. Incentive packages are generally tied to profit in the sale, much like Ag dealerships.

Earthmoving/Construction Equipment dealerships tend to have higher retainers usually due to the lower volume and higher priced items. Retainers for these dealers has remained stable over the last 12 months at around $80,000 – $90,000 plus a percentage (1% – 3%) of the purchase price.

A company vehicle or car allowance, phone and laptop are almost always provided across all the industries.

OEM Salary Trends

Teamrecruit has formed some great new relationships over the past 12 months, particularly within the corporate OEM space. We have worked on a number of corporate roles and have some preliminary salary information available.

Field Technical Support Roles have been a popular role for us to work on in the last 12 months and thankfully is a very popular role with candidates. One campaign alone resulted in 180 enquiries just from our database! Salaries for these types of roles have generally been a minimum of $90,000 base plus a vehicle, however we often see these base salaries around the $100,000 mark. Paying $100,000 instead of a salary in the high $90,000s is a great psychological tool to increase your candidate pool considerably, which is important for a role like this due to the technical ability the successful candidate must possess.

We have also worked on other OEM based roles such as Dealer Development, Product Manager, Product Marketing and General Management. With more and more of these roles coming up, we expect to be able to provide more commentary next year.

General Employment Trends

Much like last year, the employment market was a bit of a rollercoaster with the likes of COVID and travel restrictions changing the way we recruit and making interstate appointments hard.

It’s no surprise that during 2020/21 we’ve seen a huge uptake in dealers implementing video interviewing. This has been a welcome change and has enabled dealers to hire new staff after meeting them virtually. In fact, we placed several candidates this financial year who only met their employer physically on their first day! Video interviews are a great way to speed up the recruitment process and avoid losing interested candidates.

We spoke about it last year, but time is still the biggest challenge to getting a potential candidate across the line. We encourage all dealers to adopt a 24-hour contact approach and ensure that any candidate that could be of interest is kept up to date within 24 hours of a change of circumstances. If they chase you up for an update…you’ve left it too long!

COVID has also made it more difficult to attract candidates to apply for positions across state lines. The frequent nature of border shutdowns has seen most candidates decide that they do not want to take the risk of being isolated in a new state, unable to pop home to see family. Hopefully we will see the back end of this soon, however this challenge will be here to stay for the rest of 2021 at least.

Unfortunately, time has not managed to fix the industry’s biggest challenge, Technicians. The shortage is still apparent and is as bad as ever (you are not alone… just about every dealer we speak to needs more Technicians). The Motor Trade Association of Australia released some figures in 2017 detailing that there were 25,000+ more mechanical jobs in Australia than there are Mechanics – and this has only gotten worse! Closed borders and a lack of international workers taking mining jobs has meant that even more Australian Mechanics have shipped off to the mines in the last 12 months, providing more of a challenge for dealerships to compete.

The only answer for the industry is to create more Mechanics through apprenticeships. While this isn’t an ideal solution, unfortunately the industry can’t make more Mechanics appear any other way.

As for recruiting Mechanics now, get creative! If you are willing to pay a recruiter $5,000 – $10,000 to find you a Mechanic, why not offer the same amount to a current employee to head hunt some local Mechanics for you with their boots on the ground approach? All you need to do is structure the payment, so you are insured with the new employee staying at work. This is easily done through spacing out the referral fee in stages based on the employee’s time served.

Candidate referral programs sound daunting, but they will generally net you a better result than posting a Seek ad and hoping for the best! If you would like any further information about how to set up or structure a candidate referral program, please reach out.

For previous financial year salary reviews, view our articles from FY19/20 and FY 18/19.

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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