Jump to content


Article: A League Of Their Own - "There's mechanics, and then there's mechanic's mechanics."

Recommended Posts

A League of Their Own
There’s a mechanic in every town who every other mechanic knows. The go-to person when all else fails. That mechanic seems to have the knack of knowing just what needs to be done. Everyone in the business knows him or has heard of him, and if they get stuck they know who to call. In a lot of towns, there are more than just one these mechanics. Some, are excellent on the mechanical side, some are known for their electrical skills, while others are known for the diagnostic capabilities. They really are in a league of their own, there the mechanic’s mechanic.

High school shops classes, trade schools, technical colleges, and even the good old tried and true “On-the-job” training gives most mechanics their start in the business, but for a few, learning about their trade never ends. They take their training and skills to a whole new level. It could be because they take their job a bit more serious than the next guy, or it might be that “A” personality that does it. Then again, it could be they just want to do the best job they possibly can. You won’t recognize them just by walking down a street, and you can’t tell them apart by their resume in an interview. They’re hidden amongst us all and they’ll blend into the crowd. But, we know they’re around.

To the layman, mechanics are all alike. Badges and patches mean little to them. To most of them, there’s no difference between the guy changing your tire and the guy scanning your car. With a wrench in their hands they all look alike to the consumer. It’s the results that matter to the customer, not the claims they’ve heard about. All they want is their car fixed as cheap as possible and as quickly as possible. What difference does it make who fixes it, as long as it gets fixed? It’s not about the ability to diagnose, it’s about the ability to get it done that concerns them. But, with cars getting much more complicated than ever before, even the consumers are starting to realize there is a difference.

These special types of mechanic, the elite ones, deal with those “other” type of mechanics constantly by phone, in the shop, or by email. It doesn’t take long for these extra exceptional mechanics to figure out what’s the level of expertise of the mechanic they’re talking to. Especially when they come in and they’re asked, “What’s wrong with the car?” and they answer, “I changed this part, and that part, then I tried that other part again.” All the while not mentioning any of their tests results, just parts they’ve changed.

To the educated mechanic, it’s pretty obvious what the problem is with the car… you worked on it. (It’s funny how asking “what’s wrong with the car” turns into “what I did to the car” every time.) But, ask them something significant such as what the short fuel trim looks like, you’ll get the “other” mechanic stuttering around the answer, and eventually spewing out some sort of nonsense that amounts to gibberish. (I hope it’s not the same explanation they gave to their customer.)

Let’s face it, in this fast paced world getting a car in the repair shop and back out the door in the fastest way possible is the name of the game. Most average day to day mechanics can handle most everything that goes wrong. If they get stuck, a lot of them will resort to one of those companies that offer quick fix answers by polling more average mechanics from across the country. They’ll combine their responses and by the law of averages they’ll have it narrowed down to the “most likely” repair. But, when the expected results of throwing parts at the car doesn’t fix it, then they’ve got some back pedaling to do and start calling for help. And, of course who do they eventually call? Why of course, the mechanic’s mechanics.

Who are they? Where are they? Why doesn’t the consumer know? How can you find one of these mechanics who are in a league of their own? For the most part, you already do know, at least most average mechanics do. But, why would the average mechanic at the average garage who does every day, average repairs not want to tell the consumer about those above average mechanics? It’s pretty basic logic at this point. Day to day common repairs are the bread and butter of the average shop. Bring them something that is going to be hard to solve and they’ll stammer around the shop tossing a few parts, or checking for codes. Eventually, some easier gravy-train work comes in the door. They’ll drop your problem and jump on those jobs all the while referring the harder to diagnose job to one of those not-so-average mechanics. (Which is what they should have done in the first place.)

Getting to that above average level takes a great deal of studying and a lot of shop time. Their work speaks for itself. Even then, there’s more to it. Some mechanics have reached that level rather quickly, while others have taken a lifetime to get there. Even still, there are a lot of mechanics that have no ambition to ever try to be anything more than just a line mechanic. They’re quite content pulling water pumps and spark plugs and don’t want to get all wrapped up in all that diagnostic stuff.

One of these days it’s going to be an important thing for the consumer to know, if not right now. The best bet is to pay more attention to those emblems and patches. It’s an indication of who in the automotive repair business wants to let you, the consumer, know they’ve got what it takes to be a better mechanic. Ask around just to be sure. Ask one of those “average” mechanics they know, even if they’re not likely to tell you at first. If you do enough prying around it won’t be long before you’ll know which mechanics in your town are the average type and who are truly the outstanding problem solvers.

As far as mechanics, being the best mechanic there is takes more than a box of tools. Study and practice your trade. With luck, and a lot of effort you can be the go-to mechanic that ever other mechanic knows. You might even hear your name mentioned as one of those mechanics that are in a league of their own.

Click here to view the article

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Forum Topics

    • Goodyear exiting the repair business

      It seems that Goodyear corporate stores are changing their business model from Tire and Repair Service centers to strictly tires.   The franchise stores are free to continue their old business model.    Around here, the corporate stores are going to close down on January 27 for 2-3 weeks for a major remodel and possibly? rebranding.   They will sell tires and do alignments, but will not be able to align if they need repair parts.   I've not seen any official statements on this, so I don't really know more than the scuttlebutt. It looks like Hunter will have a great year this year as a result.  I saw a brand new Hunter Revolution tire machine in one of the local stores already. I stand to benefit from this change as we may see some of their repair business.   Since I don't sell tires, I'm not a Goodyear competitor, which allows them to safely refer repair business to us.   Almost everyone else around here sells tires.   We refer quite a few folks to tire-only stores, so Goodyear will now be on my referral list.

      By bantar, in General Automotive Discussion

      • 4 replies
    • Article: Challenges Of The Auto Repair Business

      As the auto industry moves on into the modern age, repair centers all around the country are experiencing pressure with the tech world and our world colliding. We are all trailing nationwide franchises and dealerships that have endless resources working at their disposal. For most smaller auto repair businesses there isn’t enough time, money, or energy to attempt to constantly and actively secure the new business. We’re mostly worried about attempting to maintain the existing business we have, which has newer cars and increasing demands. Most of our time is now spent adjusting to the learning curve of advanced vehicle systems. However, that’s just a shop problem. The front office of your shop has its own issues to contend with that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Make no mistake about it, our industry is in the middle of a revolution and with 3D printing knocking at the door… the amount of balls to juggle are going to be considerable and it's all just getting started. Today’s auto repair businesses need to worry about the following: Location – Securing a proper location and the authorization to conduct business there over the long term ensures survival. Tools – Without the proper tools, we just can’t work on today’s vehicles. Training – Without the proper training, we put ourselves and our customers at high risk. Employee Engagement – Keeping your employees as interested in your success as you are is critical to the elements that keep people returning and employees from leaving. Employee Advancement – Providing an environment where employees know they can grow with your business, whether financially or moving up within the organization, is the key to keeping and securing talent. Marketing – This is the most complicated element in today’s world. It involves a mix of a strong web presence, good advertising ethics, social media profile, and following up with customers. Advertising – Can be expensive and very confusing. The best method to start is to get your feet wet with small budgets that keep your name in front of your potential customers, constantly. Software – Without good software, it is difficult to run any business. Good software is and always has been subjective. Our experiences indicate that good software saves you time and builds trust with your customers. Most importantly, it should work for you and not against you. This article originally published in CAR's News Section
      View full article

      By CAR_AutoReports, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 0 replies
    • Business management training

      Have any of you attended classes or seminars put on by a company called ATI automotive training institute ? Was considering signing up for a 1 day class.

      By Bob K, in Workflow Management

      • 9 replies
    • Article: Restoration for the Mechanic - modern repairs, old mechanic

      Restoration for the Mechanic Electrical issues on today’s cars have certainly taken  center stage.  Mechanical issues are still there too, but  it’s not uncommon to have a mechanical problem be  diagnosed, monitored, or calibrated by some electronic  means.  You just can’t get away from the electrical  if you’re in the automotive repair business these days.   It’s taken over just about every facet of the automobile.         Today’s mechanics have become something entirely  different from the stereotypical mechanic from just a  few decades ago.  It’s not that long ago when the  electrical section of the repair manuals were just a  chapter or two, today… its volumes and volumes of  schematics and diagnostic procedures.  I’m old enough  to remember when points and condensers were still  the norm, and I’ve watched the industry go from  electronic ignition to today’s electronic jungle of wires  and processors. We’ve definitely come a long way with  the technology.   Even though I work on all these newfangled electrical wizardry systems on the modern car, deep down I’m still the kid who got a kick out of tearing down an old junker and putting it back together.  Now, I’m surrounded by modules, proximity keys, and sensors.  Occasionally it’s kind of nice just to step away from the computer and just turn a wrench or two. I look forward to those simpler kinds of jobs, the ones that need a craftsman’s touch and not a box of transistors and capacitors to figure out what to do.  Back to a time when a driver was more mechanical involved in the process of operating the vehicle.   Heating vents with levers and cables, or a hand choke that needed just the right touch to get it started.  No electronics, no service light, just the essentials.  (For you younger techs, I’m referring to the days when you actually had to unlock a door with a key.)     I still marvel at the ingenuity and engineering of those times. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I like going to old car and steam engine shows so much.  It’s all about the mechanics for me.  Electronics are great, but to see the early mechanical devices that were commonplace a century ago still amazes me.  How they figured it out, and how they made it work is shear brilliance.  (If you ever get a chance to study some of those early mechanical systems, you might be surprised how things were accomplished prior to the computer age. It’s quite fascinating… well at least to me it is.)      It’s great to be able to step back once in a while and just be a mechanic.  Back when things were rebuilt and not just replaced with new. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking a broken mechanical device and making it functional again.  It’s those jobs that after you’ve wrestled the components into place, and everything is finished you realize that you’re covered in grease, but for some reason you’ve got this big smile on your face. It’s the look of accomplishment, a smile of pride in a job well done.  And while you’re cleaning up the tools, you look over at the finished project still smiling, knowing you’re done and can move onto the next project.  It just doesn’t compare to finishing up on a modern car when the last thing to do is watch that blue line steadily move across the computer screen, waiting for it to say “Task completed”.   Not that I’m putting down the modern car, no far from it.  It’s just nice to take a break once in a while from the technical mumbo-jumbo and just be a mechanic for a change.  Even though it’s pretty awesome to solve a difficult electrical issue, it’s hard to beat a good old fashion mechanical repair.  For me, when a restoration project shows up at the shop I get a chance to turn off the laptop and open the toolbox.   These restoration jobs are just as much for the customer as they are for me.  It’s a restoration of some of my old almost forgotten mechanical abilities. (Yea, I still got it…)     We put a lot of trust in the modern electronics, something the engineers and designers of those automobiles from a few decades ago never even though of.  Their own ingenuity and craftsmanship kept them going.  Components were built to be repaired not replaced.  I think it’s safe to say that a car from 50 years ago is more likely to start and run in another 50 years but I seriously doubt a car from today would have the same luck. There again, it might be something a technician/mechanic of that era might figure out how to do by then.  Me I’ll still stick with being a mechanic/technician … I still like the physical repair aspect of the job.     The future of electronics in today’s cars is constantly changing; sometimes we notice the changes while other times you can’t physically see them.  Sometimes all it takes is a little R&R on an old jalopy just to make me remember how far we’ve come.  In the meantime, the latest restoration job is done so it’s time to go for a test drive.    I’ll get back to the laptop and the modern car world just as soon as I get all the tools cleaned up… it might take a bit though … I’m still admiring the restoration job and I’ve got some more smilin’ to do.  
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 2 replies
    • The person answering your phone may be killing your repair shop

      A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator.  I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold."  I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?"  No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring.  I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back.  Well, no one did. So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD."  There was silence, so I continued.  I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times,  I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back.  She replied,  "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway."  I hung up the phone and called another company. The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone?  The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business.  Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one.  Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls.  Your phone is your lifeline to future business.  So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone?   

      By Joe Marconi, in Joe’s Business Tips For Shop Owners

      • 5 replies
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors