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A healthy repair shop business starts with a healthy mind and the right people

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  • 3 weeks later...
Water Proof And Self Adhesive

Employees make or break your business. I am the king of the mis-hire. I have babysat through temper tantrums. NEVER AGAIN. I moved from hell to heaven by finally not being desperate and waiting for the special one instead of a warm body. My father owned a repair shop and the employees always complained about my father. My father would complain about the employees. The animosity between employers and employees seems to be common. I vowed I would not have that in my business. I found that if signing their check makes me sick it’s time for them to go and they usually know it but need a push. Otherwise they will hurt your business. 

If I do not take a regular break from the business I become ornery. I was lucky enough to be told by a good customer of mine that I had a bad attitude. Trade seminars recharge and invigorate me. I try to attend as many as possible. My attitude is the attitude of the business. I set the tone. You can’t take criticism personally. “Don’t worry be happy”

Edited by jeffa1958
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From what I see and have heard finding the right people is becoming harder and harder.. Why is this? Is there a true shortage of good people, is there an over saturation of shops, are there programs out there creating "lazy mechanics ie parts throwers" ? Is it just decades of schooling pushing people to go to college and become a doctor, dentist, lawyer, or accountant and not enough put on the trade industry? Is it the cost of tools and schooling that does not appeal to the younger generation? It seems building that family for a successful business is  getting as hard as diagnosing today's cars.. 

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7 hours ago, Stevens Automotive Service said:
1 hour ago, xrac said:
7 hours ago, Stevens Automotive Service said:

It all boils down to ambition and attitude. Have the attitude to show up and the ambition to learn. 



1 hour ago, xrac said:

I agree and would throw in intelligence.

I agree with both statements, but there is one thing that I think now a days even for a somewhat seasoned guy like myself is ..  Being a mechanic is not a very desirable job anymore.. It's a very hard job that can be very stressful for a multitude of reasons, and the pay is not so great for what we do, and if on a commission base can actually start to go down as we get older and slower not up.. Not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars we pay for tools to perform our job. i actually read a great article the other night that was about just this and how it is not a very fair career to be in . With low pay for what we do , high stress, and low appreciation from the general public. Also where service writers making more money than the actual mechanic who is the "brains of the operation", I don't care how great your service writer is without a good mechanic it is like having a title to a lamborghini but no car , it is worthless .



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  • 3 weeks later...

I think I can safely summarize a bit of first hand knowledge to all of this, since I'm seeing the industry from two different ends these days.  Meaning, I'm still a shop owner but also a teacher these days, as well as a technical manual writer and a contributing editor, so I may have an insight on to what it is about these new techs or the lack of solid techs showing up looking for work.

       First off, it's the industries previous connotations.  Let's face it, way back when mechanics were simply grease gods in jump suits, dirt floor barns and a greasy rag hanging out of their back pockets.  We all know that's NOT the mechanic world of today, but for some reason that stigma follows us all.  

        Secondly, the caliber of people coming into the trade at the technical schools is varied.  Some are there because of a GI bill paid tuition, others are there because somebody felt sorry for them and is paying their school fees either to avoid jail time or to avoid the wrath of their parents for not finding a decent job or career to get started in.  But, a few are there on their own dollar and are more than willing to grind it out and learn this trade.  

         Third, the pay, the investment and the shop environment.  You're not much of a technician if you don't have the right tools, even if you do have some background in the inner workings of the modern car.  The initial investment can be minimized by not buying the latest and greatest, however, if the pay isn't up to par with the skill sets needed I'd find it hard for anyone to stay at the trade ... starting from the bottom and working up.  A good tech is worth his weight, a newbee ...well... if you've got the time to wait for one to become an awesome tech, that's fantastic... now pay him what he is worth, before another shop strikes a deal with him.

          Obviously, the shop environment has to go along with the skill, the tools, the knowledge, the clients, and the rest of the shop helps attitude, not to mention the pay.  

            In a nut shell, those are the three things I believe leads to the shortage of good techs.  Some will have a difference of opinion, but that's what I see these days looking at it from different angles.  


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  • 6 months later...

There's a generational difference today between many of us and the new candidate pool. I challenge myself to remember Joe Marconi's words - look at the positive, get in the right frame of mind, and we will get to our destination. Finding the money to pay a Tech a good living is hard but possible. Wish I had answers that could help us but I don't. I will add that I buy the guys lunch on Saturdays and coffee/donuts once a week. I probably spend about $200 to $300 a month on them and it helps. I also pay for training and have an online University available for them for all the CBT they can stomach. 

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11 hours ago, Joe Marconi said:

@Joe Marconi Buying lunch on Saturdays, and coffee and donuts during the week does show appreciation for your employees.  It also set the right tone and improves morale.  I can tell you that the greatest thing I learned about being in business is that your success is found through the success of others.  The job of the leader is to ensure the success of others.



Well said Joe,  I have been through a few owner's, most have has the same type of attitude as this, but a few including the current one are quick to attack or push when things are slow. When things are going great though you never hear a peep no thanks no appreciation at all , but a bad week or stretch of time and you hear about it on a constant basis even if in a common well known slow period.. It is as if they forgot about year past where the same thing happened.  Morale is something missing from a lot of shops I am sure.. I think that the morale of the shops starts and stops with it's leadership ! Happy comfortable employees will be more willing to work hard than ones with a chip on their shoulders.


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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      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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