Similar Forum Topics
By Joe Marconi
Not every shop pays flat rat; for many reasons. So, many techs are on hourly pay. There is nothing wrong with hourly pay, as long as you have an incentive program in place that promotes high production levels to avoid complacency. For hourly paid employees I strongly urge you to have a pay plan that rewards production levels on a sliding scale.
As a business coach, I have seen too many times shops with low production levels and high tech payroll due to overtime pay. Overtime pay must not be used to get the jobs done with no regard to labor production. Limit overtime and create a strategy that increases production and rewards techs with production bonuses. By the way, there are many ways to incentivize techs, it's not all about money.
Overtime without high levels of production will eat into profits and if not controlled, with kill your business.
If your shop is an hourly paid shop, what incentives do you have in place to maintain production levels?
By Joe Marconi
A customer wanted to speak to me the other day to let me know of a situation he had on the road. He said that there was a car that was tailgating him, and it turns out that the driver of the car was one of my techs.
The customer was driving to my shop to pick up his other car and saw my tech pull into the shop. The customer was upset and said he was surprised that one of my employees would drive like this. I thanked him for bringing this to my attention, and said I would look into it. BUT, the customer said one thing that did not sit well with me. At one point he said, “Maybe he thought I cut him off?”
In the meantime, my tech went up to one of my advisors to let him know what happen. We sat down with the tech and I could sense he was upset. I asked what happened and he said, “I was road testing a car, and a car pulls out in front of me. I nearly locked up the brakes and then I backed off. It happened real quickly.” After listening to both sides, it was clear in my mind that what happened was a mistake on both sides.
This tech has never shown me anything but respect and is a soft-spoken guy. I believe him. The truth? Well, I have learned that each side will state his position and the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle.
Equally important: Don’t be too quick to judge the employee, listen to all sides, ask question and focus on what happened. Correct the performance. People make mistakes. If you have the right people, look to improve and move on.
Lastly,when the employee knows you have their back and looking out for their best interest, this will go a long way with morale.
By Joe Marconi
Cell phone use and too quick to judge
I was in a clothing store at the local Mall yesterday with my wife. How she convinced me to go to the mall is another story for another day. I spotted a woman on her cell phone between racks of clothing, as if she was hiding. Immediately to myself I thought, “This woman has got to be kidding. The store is packed with customers and the line at the register is a mile long, and she is on her cell phone?”
A few minutes later, the same woman was at the register and someone walked in and asked her, “How’s your husband doing?” The woman replied, “I just got a call from the doctor and he is still in critical condition, but it looks like his liver is not as bad as they thought.”
At this point, I realized that her time on her cell phone was not to duck work, but was actually something of grave importance.
Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, a lesson for all not to be too quick to judge until all the facts are in.
Bob was well into his late 80's when I met him. He's quite the talker, and he'll never run out of things to tell you. I like old Bob. We have a few things in common, not much because of the years between us, but just enough that we can relate on quite a few subjects. We both served in the USMC. Of course, the years we served were decades apart, but even with the differences in time served, we still could "talk-the-talk" like two old veterans who just got their discharge papers.
Bob had a problem with the horn buttons on his '92 Buick. It was the kind of horn that has its buttons and the air bag all built as one piece. He didn't have the money to replace the entire airbag, but he did want to get that horn working somehow. I thought I could get it to work even if I had to "rig" something up, but that was OK with him.
With his advancing years catching up with him, his hands weren't the best. Most of his strength had faded with time, and so did the ability to straighten his fingers all the way out. I had to come up with a way that he could hit the horn button with the palm of his hand, rather than with a finger tip or thumb. Not a big deal, actually if he didn't mind the look of an old style horn button attached to the edge of the air bag (so it didn't interfere with the air bag operation) it could work just fine.
Now Bob, being Bob, talking was his gift, and finding somebody with a little military background, and stuck in the driver's seat of his car was all he needed to tell one of his stories. Bob hopped in the back seat and leaned over to watch what I was doing. As I worked on his new horn button, he told me all about his time in the Marine Corps. Fascinating story; I could have listened for hours. In fact, I made sure I took long enough for him to tell his story in full and without any interruptions.
He told me about his time in Korea, in Inchon actually. It was a cold winter when he was there. A bitter cold wind and heavy snow was only part of the horrific condition he had to deal with. He went on in great detail how he was just a young kid who didn't know a thing, and how you would be talking to someone one minute and the next minute the fellow Marine sitting right next to him froze to death. When he told me that part of his story I had to stop and turn to him to ask, "That really happened, just like that, Bob?"
With a stone cold look on his face he said, "As sure as I'm sitting here talking to you, my friend."
I don't think he was kidding. He was dead serious, but it was as if he was telling me a story from a distance, but at the same time, a story where he was actually there in the mountains of Inchon still fighting the bitter cold. I think it's a way for time and age to allow a person like Bob to separate themselves from what was probably a terrible event in their life. I certainly have never experienced some of the things he was telling me about, like the chow, the hours of watching for the enemy, or how his boots didn't have much in the way of insulation, so you put on as many socks as you could along with any straw or grass you could find. Bob made a point to tell me that if you needed to run to the "head" (bathroom for all you none GI type) … well, you tried to wait as long as you could, because exposing yourself in that kind of cold could be the end of you… and I don't mean just "your" end that's exposed.
I finished up my little project and gave it a try. It worked just fine.
"Hop up here Bob, and see if you can make it work like this," I told him.
Bob made his way into the driver's seat and gave his new horn button a try. A gleam came over his face, beaming from ear to ear. He had to try it a few more times, and each time the smile kept getting bigger and bigger. "Don't you know I needed that horn! Mercy, there's some little kids in my neighborhood who get out in the street to play, and I just want to toot my horn to let them know I'm coming. Thanks partner, ya done me right."
The old Marine got out of his car and opened his wallet, "How much do I owe ya?"
"Bob, it was an honor to do this job for you. I can't take a thing."
"You most certainly are, Marine!" he said to me as he palms a twenty in my hand.
"Thanks Bob, I appreciate that, but I really appreciate the stories. You know I write a column for a magazine, and I think I'd like to tell your story if that's OK."
"Sure, not a problem. Go right ahead. I think I'd like that."
You don't shake hands with Bob, because of his crippled hands; his way of shaking hands is to "bump" knuckles. Good enough for me. It's the thought that counts. Then Bob turns to the car sitting in the bay just in front of his car. With whatever strength he had, he did his best to straighten one finger and point at the car in front.
"I'll never get over seeing this," he said.
It was a Kia Sportage in for a no start condition. I made the assumption it was because it's a Korean car, and I thought it must be bringing back some of those painful memories he had as a young man.
"I understand where you're coming from Bob, it's a Korean car. I understand completely; it's something your generation had to deal with on the battlefield where your friends had died. I'm sorry it brings up some bad memories for you."
"That ain't it," he said as he walked closer to the car, and pointed directly at the name branded on the back door, "Killed – In – Action."
I think my knees buckled a bit when he said that. I didn't know what to say next. Bob waved good-bye, and pulled his car out of the shop, and tooted his horn as he made his way down the street.
I see old Bob once in awhile, still driving the same car, still tootin' his horn. I don't think I'll ever forget his story of how he served our country. He's one of the last of that generation, a much simpler time, before computers, before cell phones, and when KIA stood for only one thing.
I'm proud to have served my country, I'm even more proud to have met a great man like Bob. We should all be as lucky, and we should all remember what his generation and many others have done to keep this country free. So the next time you see a Kia, think of it as something other than a car, think about my friend Bob. Then, say this to yourself:
Semper Fi, Bob, Semper Fi
A salute to all who has served our great nation. This country wouldn't be the country we are today if it wasn't for all the service men and women who have put their lives on the line for those back home.
I'm honored to be a part of that same group. Gonzo USMC
Click here to view the article