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Ideas on how to stay positive in a negative world


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I'm throwing this out there to help those shop owners who are taking a beating. What do you guys do to remain positive? Recently we've had a couple backyarders open up undercutting every legit shop around, and customers are believing the magic promise of something for nothing. Others are going on a long trip in 15 minutes and want a full checkup for piece of mind, but no money. Then there's the guy who's inspection ran out 3 weeks ago about the same time his windshield broke and the steel came out of the tire, yet now he has an emergency at 5:45 on Friday because we won't give him a sticker. 

Its really starting to be difficult to just grin and bear it. Maybe I'll take up drinking. 

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Drinking helps haha. After reading all your replies tonight, it's a lot of wisdom I wish I had and it's apparent that you've been in this business for a long time. I'm relatively new in this business so my advice is mute but I sincerely hope all the best for you my friend. From the quality and honesty your business exhibits through the reflections of your posts, your customers will stick with you. 

 

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I've got a story about everyone of those situations.  It's not the answer, but it sure makes a person feel better about it all when they know they're not alone in this crazy mixed up world of auto repair. 

Read a few "Gonzo's Toolbox" stories.  If nothing else, you'll feel a whole lot better after reading them. 

 

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Our business is a thanksless job, in over 25 years I have probably received two or three calls from different customers to tell me thank you for fixing their car. If anything, and you receive a call after the customer picks up the car is for them to tell you that you didn't fix the car. You know the dreaded feeling...

The only way I have found to stay positive has been to fully understand what I am doing in this business, and reading old books. Read Socrates through Plato's dialogues and other's writings, and it will give you insight as to how ignorant people can be.

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On 3/13/2017 at 8:47 AM, HarrytheCarGeek said:

Our business is a thanksless job, in over 25 years I have probably received two or three calls from different customers to tell me thank you for fixing their car. If anything, and you receive a call after the customer picks up the car is for them to tell you that you didn't fix the car. You know the dreaded feeling...

The only way I have found to stay positive has been to fully understand what I am doing in this business, and reading old books. Read Socrates through Plato's dialogues and other's writings, and it will give you insight as to how ignorant people can be.

Thankless job indeed. I once had a customer bring me a bag of custom M&M's with personalized messages thanking me by name. That definitely made my day. I have also received gift cards and cash - I do have some amazing customers but all in all no one is happy to come to a repair shop

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Well, here is how I relate to a negative world. First, let me say that there is various ways people use in doing this and I respect those that differ with me. But, for me, I rely on my faith and trust in my Maker. It is He that created me and knows more about me than I myself do so why wouldn't I trust Him to help me when I need it the most. My reliance on an almighty God is not a sign of weakness on my part but rather a dependence on a power that is greater and better than I am. 

 

Now that I have said that, by nature, I tend to be rather positive and as I relate to the negative world we live in, especially customers with broken down vehicles, I try to see the bright side of things. I am friendly to all, especially those that are otherwise. I see them as an opportunity to change their outlook in life. I grew up in my Dad's garage in the sixties and seventies and I saw my Dad relate to customers the same way. He had many many friends and I decided as a teenager that if I ever had my own business, I would emulate the methods my Dad used in relating to people. Now, after being in business for 25+ years, I have many friends and good customers. We have customers that bring us tips, donuts, cookies, gift certificates, and the list goes on. I enjoy meeting my customers in town while my wife and I go shopping. We were once out for breakfast and one of our customers was there and, unknown to me, when I went to check out and pay my bill, to my surprise, my customer had already paid it. We have a reciprical relationship here. I also tell my men, even if you do not agree with what the customer is saying, be friendly and kind to them. I could add more but I gotta go - work is calling.

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Reminds me of when I coached little league baseball. My youngest son is an all effort type person. Practiced hard to be the best player he could be. Played every game like it was the world series. Always pointed out the positive in everyone on the team. We came in first in our league to the delight of our team. When my son realized the league did not give out first place trophies he was upset. He felt if you didn't get a trophy then all the work was a waste of time. I pointed out that the reward was in the effort. I ask if he had known there wasn't going to be a first place trophy a the start of the season would he have practiced less. Would he have not tried to win every game. He replied he would have done everything the same. It would still be nice to get a trophy. In this business it often seems like you're down too many runs in the bottom of the ninth inning with 2 outs. Yet we still step up to the plate and give it all we've got. Whether we get that trophy or not.

P.S. It would still be nice to get a trophy though.

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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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