By Ron Ipach
Ask Us ANYTHING Live Call This Thursday!
Back by popular demand, the "From ZERO to $1M in Sales in Only One Year" guy (and my biz partner), Gerry Frank and I will host a live Q&A session where we'll answer every and any question you have about taking your shop and income to the next level! If you want to participate live and ask questions, I'll post a link for you to join us prior to the call. Or to just watch, listen, and learn, join us for the live simulcast inside the Successful Shop Owners group Facebook page. THE CALL WILL BE THURSDAY, JULY 25TH @ 1PM EST
If you can't be with us live, but have some questions, post them below or email them to me at [email protected] and we'll read and answer them on the call. I hope you'll join us!
By Joe Marconi
As a young tech, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I diagnosed every car with the accuracy and skill of a Greek god. My efficiency week after week was over 150 percent, and with no comebacks. As a shop owner, I sold every job, and at a profit. Each new day was better than the day before. Boy, when I look back, I was amazing. Those were days.
OK, OK, perhaps I am stretching the truth a bit. The fact is my past was not a smoothly paved road to success, but rather an obstacle course riddled with emotional and financial potholes, with more ups and downs than the biggest rollercoaster. Was it amazing? Oh, yes. Amazing because of all the mistakes I made along the way.
As the years have piled up in my life, I often find myself thinking back to the “old days” and judge people by how “perfect” I thought I was back then. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was a good technician and somehow evolved into an accomplished businessman. But was I really as good as I remember?
I was outside the bays talking with my manager when Nick, one of my techs, began his road test on a Chevy Tahoe. As he passed us I could hear that unique “squeaky” sound a seized, worn out u-joint makes. I yelled to him, “Hey, check the u-joints.” He nodded his head and drove off.
About 30 minutes later, I walked over to Nick and asked him what he found on his multipoint inspection. He told me that the wiper blades were torn, there’s a little play in the right side outer tie road and he recommends a four-wheel balance with a wheel alignment. I asked him, “What about the u-joints?” Nick replied, “They’re fine; nice and tight.”
I could feel the tension begin to rise when I continued with, “Nick, I asked you to check the u-joints because I could hear that something was wrong. How did you check the u-joints? Do you know how to check u-joints?” Nick was visibly upset, so I suggested another road test—this time with me.
During the road test, I told Nick to roll down the windows and listen. I said, “Do you hear that squeaky sound? That’s a seized u-joint.” Nick listened closely and then said, “I never heard that noise before.” To myself, I said, “You must be kidding me! How in the world can this tech not know it’s a seized u-joint?” But, thankfully I paused, and replied with, “Nick, how old are you? He responded proudly, “Twenty-one, boss.”
Nick is a recent graduate of a well known tech school. He comes to work on time, works hard, and learns every day. His production improves each month. He has a lot of raw talent and a great attitude. At 21, how in the world could he know what I know at 63?
I often forget how young some of my employees are. I also need to remember that people will make mistakes and they need the time to hone their skills through years of experience. They don’t have the gray hair of knowledge that often comes with decades of experience.
Allowing people to grow will mean making mistakes. A tech will make the wrong diagnosis. A service advisor will lose a sale or forget to sell the tire rotation. But, did you or I diagnosis every car correctly? Did we make every sale? Were we absolutely perfect in everything we did? Of course not. So let’s be a little more understanding. I am not suggesting we settle for mediocrity. People need to strive for excellence. But even the best home run hitter will strike out at times.
As business owners, especially those from my generation, it’s our job to pass the baton, to teach others, to be a mentor and a coach. Don’t be too judgmental. If we are honest with ourselves when we look back on our lives, we will see triumphs mixed with a lot tough days.
When you feel yourself losing your temper or getting upset over the mistakes or lack of knowledge from one of your employees, just think back and view your own past. Don’t look back with a skewed memory of your greatness, but with an honest recollection of your struggles and mistakes. And you never know, you just might help others avoid some of the mistakes you made.
Oh, by the way, my approach with the way I handled the situation with Nick and the seized u-joint? Another mistake on my part. So even at 63, I am still making mistakes. Kind of humbling, right?
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on July 6, 2018
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Article: Sinch' Ya - - - Being in the service business means you get paid to perform service work. But, some people still want you to do your job for free... ya know, sinch' ya got the car in the shop.By Gonzo
There’s the bargain hunter, the bargain shopper, the bargain finder, and the “I ain’t shopping anywhere, unless I get a bargain” shoppers. But, there is one more bargain shopper who tries their best to get something for nothing at the repair shop, and that’s the “Sinch’ ya bargain shopper.
The sinch’ ya bargain shopper isn’t hard to find, they’re everywhere. But, there are a lot of places where this form of shopping never works, such as the grocery store and at the gas pump. Now, the sinch’ ya shopper may try it at a doctor’s office, but I seriously doubt when they’re at the dentist getting a cavity filled they’ll ask, “Sinch’ ya got that tooth fixed, can ya look at this other one too?” and not consider the fact your dealing with a professional who gets paid for that sort of thing. Basically, what they are trying to accomplish is to get one thing done while sneaking in something else. You know the type. At the repair shop it is a habitual occurrence.
Take the guy who comes in for a brake job, and then asks, “Sinch’ ya got it here, could you see why the check engine light is on.” Sometimes, the shop will bow to their request, but a lot of times this simple check ends up taking a considerable amount of the technicians time, because the problem in question isn’t a simple problem after all.
It could be their thinking process assumes it’s no big deal, since the car is in the service bay already. Although, sometimes it’s pretty obvious it’s an intentional effort to slip in another repair on the cheap. And you can bet, if the mechanic checks things out and finds it’s a major issue, they’re not inclined to pay for any diagnostic time. I mean what was the mechanic thinking? They just wanted you (the mechanic) to “look” at it, not diagnose it.
Now, that’s another thing. That word “look”. It seems to go hand in hand with the “Sinch’ ya” bargain shopper. “Can ya look at this for me too? Since it’s here?” however, when the service writer says, “They’ll have to charge you for the time to look at it”, you can bet the next thing they’ll say is, “Oh, never mind then. If it’s going to cost me anything I’ll just wait until next time.”
That little word “look” tends to lead to other issues as well. Time after time I’ve been asked, “Well, if ya can’t look at it for free, what do ya “think” it is?” Oh here we go again. Now, the mechanic isn’t looking, he’s gotta think, sinch’ ur there and all. Which is probably the worst idea ever. Guessing at a repair just starts the wheel of parts spinning and hope it lands on something cheap. You can guess at a probable solution, with luck and experience the mechanic might actually have the correct answer. But, I have to wonder, is that all they really wanted in the first place? You know, a free spin on the parts wheel.
Obviously the answer can only be based on what information was given. What if it’s not the right solution? What if the mechanic’s answer doesn’t match what they’ve researched on the internet? What if they think it’s still something else and the mechanic is wrong? Now what? I’ve solved these “thinking” answers with my own little tidbit of wacky wisdom. I’ll tell them, “I try not to think. It gets me in trouble every time. I’d rather test it and be sure.” Which only leads to, “Then, what would be your best guess?”
Now we’ve gone passed the sinch’ ya, the look, and the think, and have gone straight to the guess. I’ve got a standard answer for the guess. It’s an answer that throws the whole question of sinch’ ya, look, and think right out the window. I tell them, “Well, it sounds like butterflies in the muffler.” Imagine the unusual stares I get. For me, it’s a priceless moment. It’s about then they realize I’m not about to tell them anything worthwhile about my job, their car, or their problem. Let’s face it, the long and short of it all is thinking, looking, and sinch’ ya’s don’t put supper on the table.
Of course, it’s all about the dollar. It goes back to why it’s not such a good idea to give estimates over the phone without knowing the condition of the vehicle. Despite their best efforts to explain things, I’ve found over the years if they knew what was wrong in the first place chances are we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But, sinch’ ur here, maybe I can make an exception. Maybe I’ll bend a bit and take a look at the problem. Yea, I’ve slipped up more than a few times, usually after I’ve forgotten the golden rule of not “looking” at a customer’s car unless we’ve agreed on a fee. And, what happens 99% of time? They’ll thank me and tell me they’ll be back later to have the work done, but I wouldn’t hold your breath you’ll ever see them again.
In large, urban shops the whole concept of the sinch’ ya bargain hunter is probably a whole lot different than the same type of customer in a small rural town. Meaning, there isn’t one set rule or answer to the issue. The big problem for both the big city and the small town is educating the customer, as well as the technician on what it takes to do this job.
I’ve got to admit, after 3 decades of working on cars I still don’t quite understand the general public. Sinch ya’ gotta have them, you might as well “look” at their car and tell them what ya “think”, at least that’s my best “guess”. But, I am sure of one thing, when I retire from all this wrenching and scanning I won’t be the bargain hunter type of customer. I know from experience what it takes to do this job, and I highly respect anyone who takes on this trade and performs the job with professionalism. But, I might ask ya to check the butterflies in the muffler, sinch’ ya got it in the shop and all.
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I had a customer come in this week wanting the snow tires "HE" put on in November taken off. Not a bad Idea since we have had no snow this winter. When I saw his car I started to laugh, he had studded snow tire on his older buick. Take a look at the picture and you will see why I laughed. Not where the snow tires are !
With all this new technology such as self-driving cars, stop-start vehicles, automatic braking systems, crash avoidance systems, and assisted parking systems, there’s bound to be a few questions and complaints. The car of today can practically think for itself, make decisions, and is aware of its surroundings. They’re programmed to perform their tasks to the best of their abilities, even if we mere humans don’t have a clue what’s going on inside those computer chips.
As with anything new and different, there’s a learning curve for the consumer as well as the technicians. It’s hard enough for the technician to wrap his head around the fact that a car can do things you wouldn’t even dream of years before. Now the consumer has to try and explain some weird goings on to the mechanic. Obviously, the technician will have to understand the inner workings of these technologically advanced systems long before the first car rolls in the service bay. So, as a mechanic/technician you have to keep in mind, once these systems hit the pavement there’s bound to be some issues.
So, to speed things along I thought I’d put together some of the more interesting questions, complaints, and conversations I’ve overheard. Even though these questions and answers are purely fictional they could happen… ya just never know. Considering the years I’ve spent listening to the wacky things people have told me at the service desk I’ll bet I’m not too far off.
Caller: “I told the car to take me to the donut shop but instead it took me to the gym.”
Mechanic: “The passenger presence system was activated. Based on your weight and height infrared readings, your car determined you needed to go to the gym more than you needed to go to the donut shop.”
Caller: “I was trying to give my neighbor a hand by pushing his car out of the street with my car. But, as soon as I got close to his car my brakes locked on and wouldn’t allow me to push his car with my bumper.”
Mechanic: “Sir, your car was protecting itself. The computer system is more concerned with maintaining the integrity of itself than moving an obstruction off the highway.”
Caller: “I just bought this car and the salesman said it has stop/start technology. The first time I tried it the car ran right into a tree. I thought it would stop, and quite frankly... it hasn’t started since I hit the tree either.”
Mechanic: “Sir, that feature is to conserve gas at stoplights. Try keeping it on the road next time.”
Patient: “Doctor, I’m finding myself very aggravated and fidgety these days. I’m constantly badgering my co-workers and my family. I just can’t seem to calm down. What’s wrong with me?”
Doctor: “Did you recently purchase a self-driving car?”
Patient: “Why yes I did. Oh it’s great, because I can put my makeup on and check my email while I’m on the way to work. But, the car will only do the speed limit, it won’t crawl up on the bumper of that slow guy in the left lane, it won’t lurch out into traffic anticipating the green light or go through yellows. Is the car causing my problem?”
Doctor: “You are going through aggressive driver’s withdrawal. I would advise you to take up oval track racing as a hobby. This should alleviate your stress level.”
Caller: “The other day I was fooling around with the A/C cranked up to max. It was really cold, just the way I like it. It was cold outside too, so as I was driving along I rolled down all the windows. Just then the air conditioning stopped blowing as much cold air as before.”
Mechanic: “Ya can’t have both, the processor knows the windows are down, it knows the temperature, and it knows you don’t need the A/C on... nuff said.”
Caller: “I’ve got one of those self-drive cars that I was towing behind my motor home, but I was in an accident the other day. I turned on the cruise control in my motor home and went back to fix myself a sandwich. The next thing I knew I was in a ditch.”
Mechanic: “Your motor home isn’t equipped with the self-drive system only your car is. The car can’t do anything for the motor home just because you’ve got them connected.”
Caller: “I was towing a trailer last week and when I tried to back up the beepers were going off and the car wouldn’t budge. It’s like the brake was on. What’s wrong?”
Mechanic: “Ma’am your car is equipped with a rear crash avoidance system and area obstruction brake sensing unit. You need to turn those features off when towing.”
Caller: “My car asked me a question about my destination, so I answered. Ok, I was a bit upset at the time and I swore at it. How come it doesn’t understand what I want when I’m aggravated?”
Mechanic: “I have trouble understanding most people when they’re aggravated too.”
Caller: “Ok, now what do I do? My self-parking car did a fantastic job of getting me into this parallel parking spot, but now I can’t figure out how to get out of it.”
Mechanic: “You’ll need to learn to drive your car. The system can only do so much for you. If not, try avoiding any of these newer cars for the next few years. By then they’ll have the technology to get you out of your predicament.”
Caller: “My automatic dimming rear view mirror is always too dark in the daytime. How come?”
Mechanic: “Your pike pass is covering the optic sensor. Try moving it to a new location.”
Caller: “I just bought this car and the radio is muted all the time.”
Mechanic: “Put your seat belt on.”
Caller: “I don’t like wearing a seat belt.”
Mechanic: “Then sing to yourself.”
Caller: “My buddy told me the best way to check my transmission is to hold my foot on the brake and stomp on the gas pedal. But the engine won’t rev up, and the service light is flashing...what’s wrong?”
Mechanic: “I scanned your car and the code refers to abusive drive train usage by the operator. Your car is telling me it doesn’t like the way it’s being treated. You’re lucky the auto ejection seat and electric Taser system hasn’t been installed on this model yet.”
Bank Robber: “Yes judge, I robbed the bank. But, how did you guys know it so fast? And, how come my car wouldn’t go over 30 miles an hour, locked all the doors, and then drove me to the police station where it stopped right at the front door. I was trying to get away, and ya caught me red handed.”
Judge: “Your car told us. The surveillance cameras at the bank got your tag number. We then got into the car’s satellite communication through the telematics systems. After listening to your conversation with your navigation system we knew we had ya. So, we took control of your car and guided it in to the precinct with the GPS. Besides, it’s not a good idea to name your destination as the “hideout” on your nav. screen.”
Ok, I made all this up. But it’s true that today’s cars are far more than transportation. It’s an all seeing, all knowing, microcosm world of technology. Ya just can’t do what you used to do. The car will know, and it’s going to tell on you. It’s a different world out there on the open highway than it has ever been in the past, and these changes go a lot further than just the blacktop. So as the world changes so does the modern day auto mechanic change too meet the demand of this new technology. Even if none of these anticipated questions ever come about, there’s no doubt auto repair will never...ever be the same again.
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