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You’re Fired!


Joe Marconi

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On the T.V. show “The Apprentice”, Donald Trump bluntly and with little emotion blurts out a simple phrase; “You’re fired”. But believe me, there is nothing simple or unemotional about firing someone. Although I’ve done it many times before, having to let someone go is a distressing event. I accept it as a part of doing business, but even when a person fully deserves to be fired, the process still stinks.

 

Last year I hired a tech in preparation for our expansion project. With the addition of 4 new bays, I knew that increasing staff and getting the right people would be challenging. When I hire people I look for more than skill level. Obviously, the person must be technically competent, but there are other qualities that are equally important. For me, having that perfect “fit” is essential for the morale of the shop. During the interview process I try to get a feel for the applicant and am more interested in making sure that the new-hire will have the personality and character that will work well with our team. All shops have a particular culture. From my experience, the better your people work together, the more productive your shop will be.

 

I thought I found such a person. This newly hired tech had a great sense of humor, seemed eager to learn, came in early every day, was always willing to help other techs, and worked hard. He graduated from a well-know automotive trade school and had a number of years experience under his belt working at a dealership. He had all the makings of a team player and potential leader. All was good for about 6 months. Then things began to fall apart.

 

A few months ago a pattern began to develop. The quality of his work was not up to our standards and he started to get a few comebacks. A lot of them were silly mistakes; he forgot to rotate the tires, or neglected to install a set of wipers, which had been clearly written on his work order.

 

It wasn’t just the comebacks that bothered me; it was the lack of focus and indifference I began to see. He didn’t seem to care as much as he did, just a few short months earlier. The other techs began to see it too and shop morale began to suffer. I have to tell you, I never give up on anyone. That’s not my style. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to train a tech, and having to fire someone would negate all of that. Plus, the way I feel is that, whatever happens in my shop and what my people do, is my responsibility and is a direct reflection on my ability as the leader of the company.

 

We had many one-on-one meetings and I gave him additional training to get him back on track. But, nothing seemed to work. Still, I did not give up. I moved him next to my lead tech, as a sign that I believed in him. I thought working next to our top tech would be beneficial to his self-esteem and boost his image, but that didn’t work either. When I caught him a few times on his cell phone while working, I knew the end was near.

 

What happened next would be the decisive moment. I caught him in a lie. Then, I caught him in a series of lies. There’s a saying that someone once told me, “Man does not have the memory to be a perfect liar, you will eventually get caught”.

 

Dishonesty was something that I could not tolerate and he had to go. After I fired him, I began the mental process of examining the entire situation. Did I do all I can to work with this individual? Was there something that I did that turned this employee from a potential star into a dud? Did I miss something in the interview process that may have indicated a problem? I was disappointed in him and in myself.

 

As shop owners we need to remember that we cannot judge our employees by who we are. We need to remember that sometimes no matter how hard we try; we cannot get out of someone that’s not in them to begin with. We also need to realize that sometimes there aren’t any clear reasons why some people act the way they do.

 

Firing someone is never easy, but if an individual’s actions put your business in jeopardy, you must act and let that person go. It’s not about the person you’re terminating; it’s more about the rest of the team. The greater good of your company must be your determining factor.

 

I never did fully understand what happened with this tech, but I do feel better now that he’s gone. Shop morale is better and I’m over the emotional roller coaster this individual caused me. Actually, it got a whole lot better when I found a new technician two weeks later, shook his hand and happily told him…“You’re Hired!”

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That must have been hard to do. I can relate to that too. People don't realize how difficult our jobs are.

 

As far as your thoughts on the tech I fired, I think you are right.

 

A lot of shops in my area are slow too. But, I really think that we should begin to see business get a lot stronger in the coming months and should stay strong up to the New Year.

 

Thanks for email!

 

Joe

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  • 3 weeks later...

Same for us. We have a drug testing policy and inform all employees and new hires that random drug testing will be performed. I have yet to do this but will start.

 

I now have about 14 people working for me and I have had issues this past year with 2 techs that were stopped for DWI. They are both gone now, but we all need to protect ourselves.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 10 months later...

On the T.V. show "The Apprentice", Donald Trump bluntly and with little emotion blurts out a simple phrase; "You're fired". But believe me, there is nothing simple or unemotional about firing someone. Although I've done it many times before, having to let someone go is a distressing event. I accept it as a part of doing business, but even when a person fully deserves to be fired, the process still stinks.

 

Last year I hired a tech in preparation for our expansion project. With the addition of 4 new bays, I knew that increasing staff and getting the right people would be challenging. When I hire people I look for more than skill level. Obviously, the person must be technically competent, but there are other qualities that are equally important. For me, having that perfect "fit" is essential for the morale of the shop. During the interview process I try to get a feel for the applicant and am more interested in making sure that the new-hire will have the personality and character that will work well with our team. All shops have a particular culture. From my experience, the better your people work together, the more productive your shop will be.

 

I thought I found such a person. This newly hired tech had a great sense of humor, seemed eager to learn, came in early every day, was always willing to help other techs, and worked hard. He graduated from a well-know automotive trade school and had a number of years experience under his belt working at a dealership. He had all the makings of a team player and potential leader. All was good for about 6 months. Then things began to fall apart.

 

A few months ago a pattern began to develop. The quality of his work was not up to our standards and he started to get a few comebacks. A lot of them were silly mistakes; he forgot to rotate the tires, or neglected to install a set of wipers, which had been clearly written on his work order.

 

It wasn't just the comebacks that bothered me; it was the lack of focus and indifference I began to see. He didn't seem to care as much as he did, just a few short months earlier. The other techs began to see it too and shop morale began to suffer. I have to tell you, I never give up on anyone. That's not my style. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to train a tech, and having to fire someone would negate all of that. Plus, the way I feel is that, whatever happens in my shop and what my people do, is my responsibility and is a direct reflection on my ability as the leader of the company.

 

We had many one-on-one meetings and I gave him additional training to get him back on track. But, nothing seemed to work. Still, I did not give up. I moved him next to my lead tech, as a sign that I believed in him. I thought working next to our top tech would be beneficial to his self-esteem and boost his image, but that didn't work either. When I caught him a few times on his cell phone while working, I knew the end was near.

 

What happened next would be the decisive moment. I caught him in a lie. Then, I caught him in a series of lies. There's a saying that someone once told me, "Man does not have the memory to be a perfect liar, you will eventually get caught".

 

Dishonesty was something that I could not tolerate and he had to go. After I fired him, I began the mental process of examining the entire situation. Did I do all I can to work with this individual? Was there something that I did that turned this employee from a potential star into a dud? Did I miss something in the interview process that may have indicated a problem? I was disappointed in him and in myself.

 

As shop owners we need to remember that we cannot judge our employees by who we are. We need to remember that sometimes no matter how hard we try; we cannot get out of someone that's not in them to begin with. We also need to realize that sometimes there aren't any clear reasons why some people act the way they do.

 

Firing someone is never easy, but if an individual's actions put your business in jeopardy, you must act and let that person go. It's not about the person you're terminating; it's more about the rest of the team. The greater good of your company must be your determining factor.

 

I never did fully understand what happened with this tech, but I do feel better now that he's gone. Shop morale is better and I'm over the emotional roller coaster this individual caused me. Actually, it got a whole lot better when I found a new technician two weeks later, shook his hand and happily told him…"You're Hired!"

 

That's the thing about employees.... "A new broom sweeps well" It's when that broom gets a few miles on it that you find out what you really have.

 

Over my years I think I've had every type of wrench head work for me. Most all end up with the same problem,... production, come-backs, and hours at the shop. One or all of them become an issue. I usually can tell when it's about to happen. The first thing I notice is they stop coming in early, or the bathroom breaks get closer and closer together. Stuff like that.

 

The thing that I feel is neccessary for a shop owner to keep in mind.... "Know when it's time to get a new broom" and "don't hang on to a useless broom"

Just my thoughts on the subject.

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For me, I tend to hold on to the hope that people can change. But, the truth is, when an employee starts to show certain signs, you need to act. The damage of delaying letting someone go can be harmful to your business.

 

I now ask myself two questions when I am having problems with an employee:

 

1. If this employee came to me today and said they were leaving, how would I feel? If it does not upset me or makes me happy, the person needs to go.

 

2. If this employee were to apply for the job today, would I hire him/her? If the answer to this question is a definite no, fire the person now!

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