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What is your primary challenge ?


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I believe the industry will continue to find hiring and staffing to be an issue. Also proper training for all jobs within the business. Electric vehicles will be coming down the pipeline. I believe training on these vehicles as well as finding profit centers with those cars (all fuel and emissions related work will be eliminated) may be a problem in the future.

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Agree with Mspec, finding and hiring the right people is the biggest challenge. I also agree that electric vehicles are going to cause a massive shift in how things operate for us on the repair side of things. Staying ahead of the curve abd up to date on training are going to be the only way to stay in business

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1. Staying healthy, and motivated to continue the business.

2. Keeping (paying) customer happy and coming through the door enough to make it worthwhile to stay in business.

3. Finding and training trustworthy people.

4. Keeping up with new technology and vision of where the business is going.

5. Making enough of a profit after taxes to make it all worthwhile.

.

.

.

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One of the major issues I deal with almost on a daily basis is dealing with customers who have gone to the parts hanger shops and haven't solved the problem. Then, they're out of money, out of patience, and still need help. I'd like to get paid for my time, and my work. But, some of them tend to look at another mechanic as no better than the one who threw parts at their car. That's gotta change. . . somehow. Most of these parts throwin' shops know me and know I can diag and repair whatever the problem is. But, they want to still sling parts and give it a go. Only after they've thrown their hands up will they send the customer and the car my way... but of course, cash in on the stuff they've already done.

 

Eliminating the parts hangers and fly by night shops should increase the professionalism for the rest of us.

 

Just sayin'

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Two things I've noticed a lot on this forum: (just an observation from an outsider, so I'm speaking in generalizations)

1. A lot of shop owners complain about not being able to find good workers and

2. A lot of shop owners want to pay these same good workers a pittance (compared to other trades).

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

If an electrician/plumber/pipefitter etc makes $30-35+ an hour, why would any good worker ever want to become an auto technician when they know they will top out at $25-28/hour?

 

I'm from Canada, and our automotive technician program is different then yours, but I believe that one of your bigger problems in general is low wages.

Up here, apprentices do a 4 year program of 10 months on-the-job training then 2 months in school to become a journeyman technician.

The apprentice minimum pay scale is based on a percentage of the journeyman rate at their shop and scales up each year. (1st year 55%, 2nd 70%, 3rd 80%, 4th 90%)

Our system works well for us, and produces a good quality of technician, and I believe in general, techs in Canada are paid on par with other trades.

 

You guys have students that come out of tech schools (UTI etc) with little to no hands on training.

Apprentices are expected to do ASE training (sometimes on their own dime, no less) to get the certification.

Maybe after 3 or 4 years of this, they get enough certs to be a decent high-end B tech (equivalent of a journeyman).

There's still nothing saying that they have to be paid well by this point.

4 or 5 more years and they become an A level master tech, finally they might get paid similar to what other trades have been making for years.

 

Not trying to be rude or a jerk, but this is just how I see it.

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Two things I've noticed a lot on this forum: (just an observation from an outsider, so I'm speaking in generalizations)

1. A lot of shop owners complain about not being able to find good workers and

2. A lot of shop owners want to pay these same good workers a pittance (compared to other trades).

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

If an electrician/plumber/pipefitter etc makes $30-35+ an hour, why would any good worker ever want to become an auto technician when they know they will top out at $25-28/hour?

 

I'm from Canada, and our automotive technician program is different then yours, but I believe that one of your bigger problems in general is low wages.

Up here, apprentices do a 4 year program of 10 months on-the-job training then 2 months in school to become a journeyman technician.

The apprentice minimum pay scale is based on a percentage of the journeyman rate at their shop and scales up each year. (1st year 55%, 2nd 70%, 3rd 80%, 4th 90%)

Our system works well for us, and produces a good quality of technician, and I believe in general, techs in Canada are paid on par with other trades.

 

You guys have students that come out of tech schools (UTI etc) with little to no hands on training.

Apprentices are expected to do ASE training (sometimes on their own dime, no less) to get the certification.

Maybe after 3 or 4 years of this, they get enough certs to be a decent high-end B tech (equivalent of a journeyman).

There's still nothing saying that they have to be paid well by this point.

4 or 5 more years and they become an A level master tech, finally they might get paid similar to what other trades have been making for years.

 

Not trying to be rude or a jerk, but this is just how I see it.

 

The quality of average person entering the trade is rather low. God bless these kids really. Nothing personal against them but their aptitude and attitude is so piss poor. I do feel there are gems out there and I will find them however for the vast majority of the shop owners, they will never meet this kids. I think this is partially due to not presenting the right marketing image as well as having a system in place to cultivate talent. I'll tell you how my experiences go once I find some all stars :)

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bstewart,

 

You have described the difference between America and the rest of the world as it pertains to worker training. America is Capitalistic for the poor, and Socialistic for the rich, which is why you can make a very large fortune if you know how to exploit it.

 

One reason we are struggling in the USA is the the Finance industry hit the automotive industry right in the gut after the 2008 finance collapse. They had the Govt. pass the Cash for Clunkers bill, which withdrew the majority of demand for auto repair from the market, and turned into an auto finance bonanza.

 

Auto shop owners are struggling to drive traffic into their stores, there is a lot of pent up demand in cars that are being neglected because the majority of the people's cash is being diverted into servicing their rent/mortgage and health insurance premiums.

 

This keeps owners from paying higher wages, and attracting great talent into the industry.

Edited by HarrytheCarGeek
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Two things I've noticed a lot on this forum: (just an observation from an outsider, so I'm speaking in generalizations)

1. A lot of shop owners complain about not being able to find good workers and

2. A lot of shop owners want to pay these same good workers a pittance (compared to other trades).

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

If an electrician/plumber/pipefitter etc makes $30-35+ an hour, why would any good worker ever want to become an auto technician when they know they will top out at $25-28/hour?

 

I'm from Canada, and our automotive technician program is different then yours, but I believe that one of your bigger problems in general is low wages.

Up here, apprentices do a 4 year program of 10 months on-the-job training then 2 months in school to become a journeyman technician.

The apprentice minimum pay scale is based on a percentage of the journeyman rate at their shop and scales up each year. (1st year 55%, 2nd 70%, 3rd 80%, 4th 90%)

Our system works well for us, and produces a good quality of technician, and I believe in general, techs in Canada are paid on par with other trades.

 

You guys have students that come out of tech schools (UTI etc) with little to no hands on training.

Apprentices are expected to do ASE training (sometimes on their own dime, no less) to get the certification.

Maybe after 3 or 4 years of this, they get enough certs to be a decent high-end B tech (equivalent of a journeyman).

There's still nothing saying that they have to be paid well by this point.

4 or 5 more years and they become an A level master tech, finally they might get paid similar to what other trades have been making for years.

 

Not trying to be rude or a jerk, but this is just how I see it.

 

Not saying I disagree, but I just opened an automotive repair shop that is spray foam insulated, brand new bright epoxy coated floors, crazy bright lighting, air conditioned to 75 degrees, and specialize in high end Asian vehicles so the techs see the same cars over and over again and has very little learning curve. I mark up my labor guide 21% (except for maintenance), I pay for their first ASE test (regardless of if the pass or fail), give a $200 bonus if they pass, a guaranteed raise if they pass, provide diagnostic scan tools, provide uniforms and cleaning services, 5 paid holidays a year, paid training, paid sick time, multiple production incentives, and both techs working for me got paid what they were asking for on their applications. They get parts for their cars at cost, have an employee break room with a refrigerator and microwave, free sodas and coffee, provide work gloves, donuts/breakfast for our Wednesday morning meeting, and both have brought family up here to show off where they work. That being said, the applications that I see coming across my desk are pathetic. I've advertised on craigslist, told all my vendors I'm looking for another tech soon, and I'm getting ready to fund a raffle on the Snap-on tool truck for technician contact info. I've even offered a $1,000 finders fee if one of my vendors bring me a good tech. Still, the turn out is meh.

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Not saying I disagree, but I just opened an automotive repair shop that is spray foam insulated, brand new bright epoxy coated floors, crazy bright lighting, air conditioned to 75 degrees, and specialize in high end Asian vehicles so the techs see the same cars over and over again and has very little learning curve. I mark up my labor guide 21% (except for maintenance), I pay for their first ASE test (regardless of if the pass or fail), give a $200 bonus if they pass, a guaranteed raise if they pass, provide diagnostic scan tools, provide uniforms and cleaning services, 5 paid holidays a year, paid training, paid sick time, multiple production incentives, and both techs working for me got paid what they were asking for on their applications. They get parts for their cars at cost, have an employee break room with a refrigerator and microwave, free sodas and coffee, provide work gloves, donuts/breakfast for our Wednesday morning meeting, and both have brought family up here to show off where they work. That being said, the applications that I see coming across my desk are pathetic. I've advertised on craigslist, told all my vendors I'm looking for another tech soon, and I'm getting ready to fund a raffle on the Snap-on tool truck for technician contact info. I've even offered a $1,000 finders fee if one of my vendors bring me a good tech. Still, the turn out is meh.

 

Like I said, I was speaking in generalizations and definitely NOT singling anyone out.

I'm sure there are many great shop owners in the US, just like in every other country out there.

Lots of the guys on this forum are especially great guys, because we are all trying to better ourselves as shop owners and as people.

I'm guessing the weak turnout you're seeing is just a symptom of the real problem, which as stated by mspec is poor industry marketing image and a weak training and support system for cultivating talent.

 

All I was saying is that I've even seen threads in here about paying entry level techs barely over $10/hour and top techs in the $25-28 range.

If this profession is going to stack up against other trades and not be looked down upon, the pay better be on par for starters, especially since automotive requires such a high tool investment.

PS. I'd love to see your shop sometime, it sounds like a dream!

 

 

You have described the difference between America and the rest of the world as it pertains to worker training. America is Capitalistic for the poor, and Socialistic for the rich, which is why you can make a very large fortune if you know how to exploit it.

One reason we are struggling in the USA is the the Finance industry hit the automotive industry right in the gut after the 2008 finance collapse. They had the Govt. pass the Cash for Clunkers bill, which withdrew the majority of demand for auto repair from the market, and turned into an auto finance bonanza.

Auto shop owners are struggling to drive traffic into their stores, there is a lot of pent up demand in cars that are being neglected because the majority of the people's cash is being diverted into servicing their rent/mortgage and health insurance premiums.

This keeps owners from paying higher wages, and attracting great talent into the industry.

 

I don't disagree with you about the cash for clunkers deal that went down (we heard all about it up here).

I don't want to turn this into a political discussion either, but don't think that socialism is your holy grail.

We're much more socialistic in Canada and we've got our share of major problems too.

For example, we just passed our annual "tax freedom day" on June 6, whereas you guys had yours on April 24, a month and a half earlier.

Canada's total tax rate for the whole country is 43%, but for the US it's a much more reasonable 31%.

I can only imagine what I'd do if I had an extra 12% of my gross income to spend each year.

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I do not think there is an owner here that would not gladly pay a new tech $25/hour if they were worth it. Why on earth would I pay some kid from school $25/hour when all he does it have me diag the issue, come to me 10 times during the repair to ask what's next and then screw it up in the end anyway?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Warning: Rant alert.

 

Being a proficient technician is a very challenging job that does not receive the recognition or compensation it requires. A proficient general technician, which is required in most independent shops (at least in my area), requires being good at diagnosing and repairing internal engine issues, engine accessory issues, air conditioning, cooling systems, exhaust systems, engine management, wiring, interior components such as windows - sunroofs - door locks - touch screen units - communication systems, engine electrical, suspension, tires, brakes, transmissions... You basically need to be a mechanic, understand electrical wiring, be a electronic technician, a welder, a plumber, and a LEARNER because everything changes. In addition your tool and equipment cost never stops as you are always collecting for your arsenal to fix vehicles.

 

In Northeast Ohio there is not a demand for specialty shops. Shops that specialize in certain makes and models do what everybody else does: work on everything. You have to or the bills won't get paid.

 

In addition the job requires you fit your full grown body into tight and cramped areas, deal with grease, grim, scrapped knuckles, stress and pressure from customers, management, and ones self for $15-$20 an hour. Not to mention the pay scale is broke. Labor guides are written for new vehicles, that don't have rust, rats, and problems causing other problems on 10-20 year old cars which is common in an independent in this area. They are probably 70% of what you are going to work on. MOST professional jobs pay a salary, pay per hour, the OWNER or COMPANY takes the risk of quoting services, not the employee which is the norm in the auto industry.

 

The struggles in finding good help is true, it exists. But who in their right mind would want to jump in this industry to make such a small wage with all the risks and stress that come with being a technician? I know bank tellers making $45k and they have no risk, no stress. I know plumbers and electricians working for various companies making $60k and not having to stress over flagging hours on a piece of rusty junk, they are paid salary. They have expectations set by their bosses, but they aren't financially penalized for a customers piece of junk house that was underquoted to get the sale. How many mechanics are making $60k in Northeast Ohio? Some, not many. Most barely make $35k.

 

I graduated from college with a teaching degree before I opened up my shop. The stress in dealing with old rusty cars, the public, and not being able to pay my employees correctly was hurting my morale. I found a teaching job, teach monday-friday, and have two employees at my business working. We now just buy and sell cars. I am able to pay my mechanic a fair wage on a salary. We don't have to deal with the public and their rusty cars which have a dozen problems, some of them interconnected and effecting multiple systems. I am happy being a semi absentee owner and teaching.

 

Who on the forum would sign up for a job that doesn't pay near what other trades of similar skill require (and lets be honest, what trade requires this level of skill) to be paid on an outdated pay platform that puts employee compensation at risk?

 

If an employee is under performing, part ways with them. Don't terrorize them with flag hour pay when they don't control the estimate, the pricing, or the hours that are recommended from labor guides. The labor guides pull hours from factory recommendation, do you think Ford, GM, Chrysler or BMW are going to publish fair times vs times that benefit them? The lower the time they publish, the more they can shave off for "warranty" time (which is lower), which means less they have to pay a dealership to repair their new vehicles.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Just wondering how many shops that are having technician staffing problems do any or all of the following:

 

1. Do you have a recruiting strategy and if so is it effective?

 

2. Do you have a career path for your technicians? Regular written reviews, regular raises based on those reviews?

 

3. Do you have a written company policy book and /or a written procedure book?

 

4. Do you just crisis hire one of the first applicants with a pulse, show them where to park their box and hand them the first work order?

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Like I said, I was speaking in generalizations and definitely NOT singling anyone out.

I'm sure there are many great shop owners in the US, just like in every other country out there.

Lots of the guys on this forum are especially great guys, because we are all trying to better ourselves as shop owners and as people.

I'm guessing the weak turnout you're seeing is just a symptom of the real problem, which as stated by mspec is poor industry marketing image and a weak training and support system for cultivating talent.

 

All I was saying is that I've even seen threads in here about paying entry level techs barely over $10/hour and top techs in the $25-28 range.

If this profession is going to stack up against other trades and not be looked down upon, the pay better be on par for starters, especially since automotive requires such a high tool investment.

PS. I'd love to see your shop sometime, it sounds like a dream!

 

 

 

I don't disagree with you about the cash for clunkers deal that went down (we heard all about it up here).

I don't want to turn this into a political discussion either, but don't think that socialism is your holy grail.

We're much more socialistic in Canada and we've got our share of major problems too.

For example, we just passed our annual "tax freedom day" on June 6, whereas you guys had yours on April 24, a month and a half earlier.

Canada's total tax rate for the whole country is 43%, but for the US it's a much more reasonable 31%.

I can only imagine what I'd do if I had an extra 12% of my gross income to spend each year.

You can't compare a government funded program to our free market system in America. Your taxes are high in Canada to provide for subsidized programs like your Automotive Tech Apprentice program. As you can tell from everyone's unique response we face individual challenges in employing bright people.

 

I've lost some very talented Techs to personal life situations, greed, and to government employment which includes salary, retirement plan funding, and full benefits for the entire family. Tell me I don't have a right to be upset by the same government I overpay taxes to stealing my talent with pay and benefits I can't come close to competing with ever.

 

We have a culture crises in America. A unionized plumber or electrician is one thing. An Automotive Technician working in an independent shop is not the same ballpark. Their education, training, and dues paid are not the same ballpark. But we have is attitudes that decry 'I'm working hard, busting my hump for some owner making all the money. I should be paid more'. Fact is, I've got my tail on line to the bank, to vendors, to my customers. I'm doing all I can to provide a good environment where my employees can provide for themselves and have something left over. Does it matter to candidates? Not one bit.

 

No matter how much training and experience you have you just can't fix stupid.

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Shopcat has it right. The biggest challenge in this industry is that as owners, we terribly lack LEADERSHIP skills. Most everything we complain about has more to do with the guy in the mirror than any external force.

 

"Just wondering how many shops that are having technician staffing problems do any or all of the following:

 

1. Do you have a recruiting strategy and if so is it effective?

 

2. Do you have a career path for your technicians? Regular written reviews, regular raises based on those reviews?

 

3. Do you have a written company policy book and /or a written procedure book?

 

4. Do you just crisis hire one of the first applicants with a pulse, show them where to park their box and hand them the first work order?"

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Working on my procedure and handbook currently. I see the dire need to have consistency, a career path, and written policies to be successful.

 

I've put together a benefits, compensation, and culture at my shop that when people apply they want to work here. I find quality candidates who work six days a week, no benefits, and no holiday pay. Yet they stay loyal to their employer - they must think they have no alternative. Or they're not motivated to move. I don't know. I suppose if I could figure out 'people' I'd be rich!

 

This thread has a negative slant on it for certain. I'm looking at expanding into more shops. My wife asks why I would subject myself to 'more of the same problem' with hiring people. All I can say is that if I have my policies, procedures, and trust in God it will work out. May be simplistic and/or naive but cars and trucks need fixed and why not my shop(s) to be the ones that get the business?

 

Be well and do good things my friends!

Edited by 3PuttFever
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3PuttFever , It is smart to develop your company's culture , the procedure and handbook. Your culture is apparent in those positive reviews, and your Facebook page too. Its great to see owners being proactive and making their business better. I say you headed to greater success in you shop(s) !!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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    • By carmcapriotto
      Thanks to our Partners, AAPEX, NAPA TRACS, and Automotive Management Network Hear from the team at Mighty Auto Pro as they discuss the pivotal role of morning huddles and meetings. The team shares their experiences on how these gatherings enhance daily workflow and help minimize unexpected challenges. Leigh Anne Best and Bill Hill, Mighty Auto Pro, Medina OH. Show Notes
      Skylar's Morning Huddle (00:04:14) Skylar explains the morning huddle and its role in coordinating service work and workflow. Michael's Morning Huddle (00:09:32) Michael emphasizes the importance of the morning huddle in ensuring everyone is on the same page and minimizing surprises during the day. Josh's Morning Huddle (00:09:55) Josh discusses how morning huddles help in managing parts and workflow, and the interaction between customer service and technicians. David's Morning Huddle (00:11:58) David explains the purpose of the morning huddle in coordinating projects and ensuring everyone is on the same page. Training Hours and Meetings (00:13:19) Discussion about the training hours completed, the process of introducing new training seminars, and the importance of training in the automotive industry. Brian's Morning Huddle (00:14:54) Brian discusses the value of morning huddles in providing uniformity, team collaboration, and adaptability in planning the day's work. Thanks to our Partners, AAPEX, NAPA TRACS, and Automotive Management Network Set your sights on Las Vegas in 2024. Mark your calendar now … November 5th-7th, 2024. AAPEX - Now more than ever. And don’t miss the next free AAPEX webinar. Register now at http://AAPEXSHOW.COM/WEBINAR NAPA TRACS will move your shop into the SMS fast lane with onsite training and six days a week of support and local representation. Find NAPA TRACS on the Web at http://napatracs.com/ Get ready to grow your business with the Automotive Management Network: Find on the Web at http://AftermarketManagementNetwork.com for information that can help you move your business ahead and for the free and informative http://LaborRateTracker.com Connect with the Podcast: -Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RemarkableResultsRadioPodcast/ -Join Our Private Facebook Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1734687266778976 -Subscribe on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/carmcapriotto -Follow on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmcapriotto/ -Follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/remarkableresultsradiopodcast/ -Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RResultsBiz -Visit the Website: https://remarkableresults.biz/ -Join our Insider List: https://remarkableresults.biz/insider -All books mentioned on our podcasts: https://remarkableresults.biz/books -Our Classroom page for personal or team learning: https://remarkableresults.biz/classroom -Buy Me a Coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/carm -The Aftermarket Radio Network: https://aftermarketradionetwork.com -Special episode collections: https://remarkableresults.biz/collections                    
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