By Gavin Lennox, Invenco CEO: At the end of last year the PEI (Petroleum Equipment Institute) journal highlighted the shortage of US Service Technicians in its article on “Top 10 Industry Issues”. And we can only agree. The bigger issue we see coming is when you combine the existing shortage with the looming EMV deadline.
What is currently a shortfall is going to be a serious logjam as we get closer to October 2020 and could potentially push a significant number of site upgrades beyond the deadline as there simply aren’t enough service techs to meet demand.
It would have to be one of the compelling reasons to consider moving early as opposed to waiting. But as the article spells out, it isn’t as easy as it sounds: “When service techs become trained and experienced, they become desirable to competitors. Bigger companies can scoop them up by dangling a little more money.”
That places trained service technicians even further out of reach for the smaller industry players. What is a ‘thin on the ground’ resource now, is going to be like hens’ teeth in eighteen months’ time. And scarcity can only drive prices up making what is already an expensive EMV upgrade exercise, even more costly.
Why we’re in this situation
According to the PEI article there are several reasons why we are in this situation:
- "The general public is unaware of the career possibilities.
- It’s hard to find candidates who are interested in and qualified for the positions.
- It costs a lot to train someone. (PEI estimated USD12,000 to USD15,000).
- There’s no single industry training resource because several manufacturers make different models of the equipment.
- Regulations vary by state and region.”
It is also a dirty and potentially dangerous job that requires a considerable amount of travel, being on-call around-the-clock and wages are below that of similar trades. It is not hard to see why good service-techs are difficult to find.
For our part, Invenco is pushing hard to establish a universal industry standard for Outdoor Payment Terminals (OPTs) so installation differences across the various models are minimized. While this isn’t going to solve the universal service-tech issue it could have a positive impact on the immediate logjam we see coming with the EMV upgrade deadline.
Pro-active approach needed
We have also worked hard to make our OPTs as easy to install as they can be. Reports from the field tell us the G6 OPT can be installed in under 30 minutes and thanks to having cloud connection as standard, we can remotely download the encrypted key so the units are immediately operational. (Sorry – a bit of a sales pitch but want to make the point that an EMV compliant retrofit doesn’t need to be as difficult as some manufacturers make it).
In the meantime, it is pleasing to see PEI amongst others working pro-actively towards increasing the available pool of service techs. In an article in the same edition, entitled “Service Tech Training Update”, it reports the appointment of a 10 member committee and the introduction of a service technician training manual with accompanying test which you can find at www.pei.org/techrecruit.
Even with this effort going in now, we believe there will still be a big gap between demand and supply as the EMV deadline approaches. While most of the industry focuses on the cost of doing the upgrade, your ability to find the resource to do the work is going to be a potentially even bigger issue and one we collectively shouldn’t lose sight of.