Nissan-Subaru dealer fosters inside talent with training

Nissan-Subaru dealer fosters inside talent with training


The Tech 120 Program is an all-expenses-paid technician recruitment and development program within the dealership’s main shop.

Dave Wright Subaru Nissan dealership in Hiawatha, Iowa

Dave Wright Nissan-Subaru dealership in Hiawatha, Iowa

In a time when labor shortages are leaving many job openings unfilled, dealerships have had to compete for employees at every position. What Dave Wright Nissan-Subaru in Hiawatha, Iowa, is doing to recruit workers is simple: creating talent from within.

The Tech 120 Program is an all-expenses-paid technician recruitment and development program designed to help interested applicants with limited experience eventually become a master technician within the dealership’s main shop.

Sydney Wright, director of hiring and training, told Automotive News that the program began two years ago after the dealership identified a need to train local techs.

“We have people in the area that didn’t think they could be a technician or be successful because they figured they had to go to school or have experience, and they didn’t have any of that,” Wright said.

Step-by-step growth

To help address its technician shortage, Dave Wright Nissan-Subaru in Hiawatha, Iowa, introduced a 7-step program that trains entry-level employees to become master technicians in less than 4 years.

The total program can be completed in less than four years and consists of seven levels.

“When it comes to the time frame, that’s really dependent on the person,” Wright said. “You can go through it quicker if you have the skills and you take the time and when you come in to work you’re focused and ready to go.”

The first level, known as the express level, lasts about six months. It involves training in vehicle health inspection, oil changes and tire rotations; employees earn $12 an hour.

The second and third levels are full express and express team lead, respectively. Both positions include a $500 tool bonus and pay $13 to $15 an hour.

Full express lasts around six months and includes training on filters, battery inspections and tire repairs. Express team lead takes approximately 90 days and consists of training replacements and assisting main shop technicians.

Master Technician



» All Nissan, Subary And ASE’s Completed

Core Competencies

» Any And All Diagnosis And Repairs

Exp. Technician



» Nissan Level 4

» Subaru Level 4

» Complete ASE’s

Core Competencies

» All Customer Pay/Warranty Diagnosis And Repairs

Time Frame: 9 Months – 1 Year




» Nissan Level 3

» Subaru Level 3

» ASE’s

Core Competencies

» Intermediate Customer Pay

» Intermediate Diagnosis And Repairs

Time Frame: 9 Months – 1 Year

Junior Technician

$15-$17 / Hour


» Nissan Level 2

» Subaru Level 2

Core Competencies

» Used Car Inspections

» Maintenance Repairs

» Light Warranty Work

Time Frame: 9 Months – 1 Year

Bonus: $500 Tool Bonus

Express Team Lead

$15 / Hour


» Nissan And Subaru Main Shop Web Trainings

Core Competencies

» Train Replacement

» PDIs

» Introduction Campaigns

» Assist Main Shop Techs

Time Frame: 90 Days

Bonus: $500 Tool Bonus

Full Express

$13-$14 / Hour


» Completion of Nissan And Subaru Express Trainings

Core Competencies

» Filters

» Battery Inspections

» Tire Repairs

Time Frame: 6 Months

Bonus: $500 Tool Bonus


$12 / Hour


» Nissan Technician Orientation

» Subaru Express Training

Core Competencies

» Vehicle Health Inspection

» Oil Change

» Tire Rotations

Time Frame: 6 Months

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The fourth level is junior technician, which can last from nine to 12 months. It pays $15 to $17 an hour, plus another $500 tool bonus. Responsibilities include used-vehicle inspections, maintenance repairs and light warranty work. Wright said during this stage the dealership pays for the junior technician to attend Nissan and Subaru trainings.

After completing that level and the manufacturer training, employees move on to the service technician phase. For level five, employees complete some of their ASE training and begin to work on intermediate diagnostics and repairs.

This stage lasts nine to 12 months; employees are paid $50,000 to $60,000 annually.

Technician John Kinney started at the express level of the Tech 120 Program at Dave Wright Nissan-Subaru and has moved up to technician.

The second-to-last level is experienced technician. In this phase, employees are paid $75,000 to $85,000 per year and are responsible for all customer-pay and warranty work. Similar to the previous level, this phase also lasts nine to 12 months.

The program culminates with the employee being promoted to master technician, which can pay as much as $120,000 a year. The employee is responsible for diagnostics and repair work.

“You’re the master technician. You do all the heavy-duty work and any work that the experienced technicians can’t quite do yet,” Wright said. “You’ll also help train all the technicians … and get them to the level that you’re at.”

About a dozen employees have started the program, Wright said, with three so far advancing to the main shop. The program has helped the dealership recruit and retain candidates they otherwise might not have considered.

“It’s been a huge tool in helping us recruit some of those mechanically inclined students,” Wright said, “or people that just don’t think they can do it because they lack experience.”

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