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Dude, Meet My Daughter


Gonzo

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Dude, meet my daughter

 

Gonzo 2010

 

When it comes to dealing with customers, there are always a few things that are sure to be an issue, i.e...Cost, how long will it take, and when is it going to be done? Then there are those times when the unexpected happens. When that front door opens and a new customer comes thru the door, and your expectations are high. Will this customer become a regular? Then there is the type that you’ll say to yourself … What’s it going to be this time.

 

The other day I was in the office when the front door opened. In walked a young man with that “clean-cut kid next door” look. Nice kid, seemed like he had his head on his shoulders. I was busy finishing up with an aggravated lady who was having a little fit over paying for the results of her car’s outcome. The poor lady’s car had broken a cam, and took out the engine. It was going to take a new one. She couldn’t afford the engine replacement, and her frustration was noticeable. She was completely out of control… mainly because a cheaper solution wasn’t possible. So with a captured audience she let the shouting commence at the front desk… “Let the world know you are having car problems” and who would ya think had a front row seat to this show of shows… you guessed it… me … and boy, was she sounding off … Yipes!

 

As this lady continued with her ranting about her situation, the young lad sat in the background waiting for his turn at the counter. She soon left with her cell phone stuck to her ear calling for a tow truck.

 

The young lad walks up to the counter with a concerned look on his face, “Do ya need a minute, how about you take a deep breath, just inhale slowly and exhale. Wow, dude… she gave you an earful. How do ya deal with that kind of thing?”

 

“Oh, I guess you could say you get used to it. It’s nothing; she’s just upset that she’ll have to buy another car. Thanks for asking, it’s no big deal… what can I do for you?” I said as I took that deep breath.

 

“My headlights go off if I tilt my wheel all the way up.”

 

“No problem, do you need to wait on it?”

 

“If it won’t take long, that would be nice.”

 

I filled out the paper work and put the truck in the shop. Sure enough if you put the wheel all the way up, the lights would go off. Down they worked fine.

 

Removing the steering column trim revealed the problem. The main wire that leads to the dimmer switch had come free from the multifunction switch connector. Every time the column was up the wire would separate. It was quick fix… nothing special. Just push it back into place, make sure it “clicked” into place and strap it down to the other so it couldn’t pull free again. I even adjusted the entire harness so there was a tad bit more room for the swinging motion of the column.

 

Before I put all the trim back on I tried it several times… it worked super. I pulled the car around front, and he paid for my time and was back on the road. He was the kind of person who makes your day special. Especially after dealing with a lady and her dead engine… (Maintenance people… it makes a difference… but that’s another story)

 

A day or so later the same young lad was back… but now it wasn’t because the headlights wouldn’t come on while tilting the wheel… it was because the headlights blinked off and on. He seemed very stern with his explanation. He made his point, and then stood there waiting for my answer.

 

Normally, I would be thinking it’s time for me to get defensive. I just fixed his “no headlight” problem the other day and now this… Oh, the wheels are turning in my head. I could feel the steam reaching the flash point. This kid was looking at me with that same look the lady with the dead engine was looking at me with… (You know the look).

 

I didn’t want to blow my top over this but I kept thinking; this guy is going to tell me it’s doing the same thing… I just know it.

 

He stood there staring me down. I was waiting for the usual; “It’s doing the same thing” response.

 

With his arms folded across his chest, “It’s doing the same thing.”

 

I’m going to go ballistic… My daughter (Mandy) was running the service desk that afternoon. I could see she was looking for that “safe zone” to get out of the reach of dad’s soon to explode tantrum. But this kid was so concerned with my well being the other day I figured I’d give him one more chance.

 

I looked outside at the truck, turned to look at him and groveled out something that sounded like, “Doors unlocked?”

 

He answered, “Sure is.”

 

Without another word I walked out and turned the headlights on, while he followed me out to the truck. He began to tell me how the headlights would fail, and how often it would happen on his truck. As he explained the situation to me he seemed to be more concerned that I wasn’t going to blow my top. Not only was this fella sorry to bother me, but he wanted to be sure to tell me it only blinks after he’s been driving for more than an hour or so… and not when it’s tilted as it did in the past. He also told me that he noticed when the headlights do start to blink he could wiggle the headlight switch knob and they would come back on.

 

“Well, this is NOT the same thing; this is quite different from what was wrong with it the other day, what makes you think it was the same thing?” I asked.

 

“Just wanted to raze ya man… thought it would be funny, you seem like an uptight guy who doesn’t get a lot of laughs. Thought you might get a kick out somebody playing ya,” he answered chuckling and patting me on the back. (I don’t know how this kid pegged me for an uptight guy… but I’m starting to like him...)

 

Ok, ya got me… good one kid. I’ll give you that. Ya got me good. I had to laugh, nothing like somebody from outside the industry seeing the difficulty and stress that this job can put you under.

 

We struck up a friendly conversation about college, family and work while we were waiting to see if the headlights would blink. After about a half hour or so the headlights did exactly what he predicted. It was nothing more than a faulty headlight switch. After wasting the better part of an hour of just chatting and small talk, the two of us went back into the office and asked Mandy to order a new headlight switch. Mandy was startled, she was expecting me to come in slam something on the counter, say a few choice words, and rant my way back to the shop kicking doors open all the way. But instead I had a big smile on my face, and my new found bud under my arm… “Dude, meet my daughter, Mandy.” You can guess her reaction after this confrontation. (Mandy wasn’t all that impressed with the guy.)

 

When the switch made it to the shop I went right to work installing it, and sent my little friend down the road. But I’m sure he’ll be back. He made my day with his quick little observations of the goings on at the repair shop. Just wish more people acted that way… it would make my life a lot easier. As for Mandy… she hasn’t decided yet. I guess this guy wasn’t her type. Hey, but a dad can dream …. can’t he…?

 

 

Stories are posted for your enjoyment and before they are sent to the editors for printing.

Comments are more than appreciated... it lets me know how to make the stories better for publication.

www.gonzostoolbox.com see ya there.

 

 

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         3 comments
      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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