I'm trying to hire, and literally cannot find anybody. Ideally I'm looking for a full time parts hanger. Somebody that has little or no diag experience or isn't comfortable with electrical work, but can do the basics on their own. Where do I even try to look? I've tried CL and Facebook to no avail. I've called both of the local community colleges with automotive programs, and it's just crickets. I don't even want to pay them flat rate, I'll more than happily pay them hourly.
And PLEASE, for the love of god, I don't want to hear the lecture on 'you need to hire nothing but master techs'. That doesn't help me, nor fix my current problems. I know what I need. I just need help trying to figure out how to find it. Nobody becomes a mastertech without doing basics first anyways.
Article: The Ghost Mechanic - those mechanics that seem to leave evidence of their bad work that you find... or was it a mechanic after all?By Gonzo
The Ghost Mechanic
Creepier things have happened, but rarely do things go without an explanation. This time around it’s the mystery mechanic who seems to have been working on this guy’s car, or maybe not. Maybe it’s that ghostly mechanic who haunts people’s cars on quiet neighborhood streets in the middle of the night. You know, that guy who leaves nothing but telltale greasy finger prints or unattached wire harnesses, or even loose bolts where loose bolts shouldn’t be. This job was no exception to the antics of the invisible mechanic’s handy work. It’s a mystery worth solving.
A Chevy HHR was towed in for a no start condition. It wasn’t exactly a no start; it was more like a poor starting/running condition. When it would run, the poor thing sounded like it was on its last trip to the garage and its first trip to the salvage yard. Trying to beat it to its last ride on the tow truck, I hooked up the scanner to see what inner mysteries were present. Code P1682 (Ignition 1 switch circuit 2), but I wasn’t done yet. Time to do a complete health check on all the modules. Sure enough, the ‘U’ codes were off the charts. Seems we have a lot of low voltage codes causing a problem.
A quick check of the wiring diagram showed the power led to a voltage input lead for the PCM, TCM, and several other circuits that would definitely lead to a rough, hard to start, non-cooperating HHR. This may turn out to be a simple problem after all. Could be wiring, a component, or perhaps a fuse box problem. A quick glance at the fuse box didn’t reveal much, but I should probably take a closer look at that fuse box. Maybe go as far as physically checking the actual fuse circuit. Hmm, something is amiss here. The fuse is good, but the fuse is in the wrong slot. The slot that it’s in should be an empty slot. Seems somebody was fooling around under the hood and didn’t put the fuse back correctly.
Might as well try moving the fuse back to the proper location. Well, imagine that, this old HHR starts right up! OK, it’s not running the best . . . yet. Do a little throttle relearn and it runs as good as new.
After rechecking the related circuits for any damage, or out of place items I gave the HHR the once around the block test. Runs great, sounds great, no warning lights, no unusual noises, seems fine to me. I guess I’ll write up an invoice on this job and call the customer. As I closed the hood, the telltale greasy hand prints from the last guy who was under the hood were everywhere. I think I spent as much time cleaning this guy’s hood as I spent diagnosing the problem.
I gave him a call and explained to him, as best I could, what I had found. Although, I did have that one nagging question regarding who had worked on the car previously. I really wanted an answer to that question.
"NOBODY" … are you serious? That’s when I explained the entire repair all over again. Between the greasy finger marks on the hood and fenders, and the fuse in the wrong place, I’m afraid I’m not going to buy the story that the mysterious ghost mechanic has struck again. His only explanation came down to the whole thing must have been a poltergeist or something. Or ‘someone’ not ‘something’ is a better way to put it. I’m not buying the ghost mechanic theory. At this point, he seemed to be more intent on finding out the final bill, and not so much on solving the mystery of how the fuse mysteriously moved into a different slot.
But, before I gave him the total, I recommended he perform an exorcism on his car, since ‘NOBODY’ has been touching it. His response, "How much more will that cost me?” Seriously? Now, I’ve been asked to do all sorts of things to a car, like put a helicopter landing pad on the roof, remove a varmint from behind the dash, or turn a Prius into a tow truck, but I don’t think I’ve ever been explicitly asked to do an exorcism on the family truckster. Actually, I’m starting to put this whole thing together.
The mystery mechanic is none other than this guy himself. His answers to certain questions, and how he told his story were a dead giveaway as to who the ghost mechanic was. I swear some people just can’t be honest and admit when they’re beyond their learning curve. We both might have had a good laugh over the whole thing, but instead this guy wants me to drop the price in half, since it was such an ‘easy’ repair and all, and ignore the whereabouts of this seemingly ghostly apparition with the mindless ability to screw up the family car. But, since this guy wouldn’t own up to it, even with the evidence of his very own greasy paw prints, he’s in for a lesson of honesty, awareness of his own abilities, and how to pay for a professional diagnosis.
It’s just another case of the mechanic solving the mystery of the proverbial ghost mechanic. Debunking wives’A tales about the modern automobile, supernatural occurrences under the hood, and apparitions that seem to move fuses around is just another duty of the modern mechanic. Oh, and don’t think you’re the first person who’s tried the ghost mechanic as your method of passing the blame… you’re not. Every good mechanic has performed their fair share of exorcisms in the past and have seen the results of the mystery mechanic and his endeavors. We know who you really are.
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How Accurate Are Reviews?
According to some surveys over 80 percent of the buying public rely on reviews as a way to determine if a product or service is suitable for them. That being said, are those reviews a true depiction of the business or product, or can those reviews be skewed by a person’s attitude or ego coming through? That’s the problem with these reviews. They’re often written by an individual with something to say, who only has half the facts but a whole lot of fiction. A lot of times they’re writing a review, but don’t fully understand the product or the service. Sometimes they’re upset for various other reasons that aren’t related to the product or service at all; it’s more of two egos colliding together, but write a review they do.
Automotive service seems to be one of those services on the chopping block with the average consumer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dealership repair facility or an independent shop, somebody is going to have an opinion about something good or bad. Although typically, the disgruntled person who is going to write a less than desirable review is usually the same type who goes to a restaurant, eats their entire entrée, then complains to the manager they found a hair in their soup and want the whole meal removed from their bill.
I’m always open to suggestions from the business experts who tell repair shop owners to put themselves in their customer’s shoes and ask themselves what they would want in customer service if they were the customer. It’s a good way to look at things, but I also tend to wonder what is going through the minds of some of these people who make the decision to go to a rundown repair shop in an old building with their hand painted sign dangling by a rusty nail, only to complain that the service and repair was substandard. I mean, what did you expect?
What’s more disturbing are those who leave a comment, but don’t even have the nerve to leave their real name, nor have ambition to confront the repair shop before confirming their complaint. I had one who left a comment with the name “Chris P. Bacon”. Now, I’m not knocking the fact that your mother and father with the last name Bacon decided upon Chris P. as your first name. I’m just not sure you’re who you say you are. Besides, you’d think I’d remember a name like that on a RO. The name, and the complaint….sounds a little… too crispy. But like any of these reviews, the big problem comes in trying to right the wrong by removing these posts. It can be a bigger ordeal than you can imagine.
Is there a cure?
So, what to do? Well, it’s pretty simple. Ask all your customers to leave a comment every time they have any type of service work done at your shop, and not wait for a problem and let that be the only review. Start using the digital world as a billboard to let everyone know what you do and how well you do it, not just as a complaint department for those disgruntled irritants who seem to use the internet to voice their opinions on subjects they don’t really understand.
Are you part of the problem?
As usual, your tone of voice and off color sarcasms may not be for everyone. Of course, that may be just the way you talk and act, and not necessarily an attitude, it’s just you. For some people, that’s not acceptable, which means from the get-go you’re not going to have a very successful relationship with them. For me, I’ve never been one to think I was going to make personal friends with everyone that came in the door I always figured you get what you give. You come in with an insulting attitude about my trade and profession you’re going to get the similar type of attitude back at ya.
This is where as a shop owner, or head mechanic, you’ve got to take a step back and realize the service counter may not be the best place for you. If your expertise is diagnosing the various systems in today’s vehicles and not in holding a meaningful conversation with a soccer mom, even if they came in to the shop telling you her van is overheating because of a faulty tail light. You know there’s no way that could happen, but you can’t keep your mouth shut or think you’re going to correct the situation by telling them, “Nope, that can’t happen ma’am”, maybe you don’t belong behind the service counter. You might be turning into your own worst enemy. Doing the work is one thing, getting the work in the door is another. That’s where hiring a service writer or taking some business coaching classes to become more aware of your personally fault, and yes… we all have faults. It’s just sometimes hard to admit it or recognize that we have them at all.
Grasping at the reasons why
The big thing to consider is whether or not these reviews are justified from your approach to the repair, results of the repair, or perhaps your reactions at the service counter. You have to ask yourself, “Are these reviews worth the time to worry about, or are they a real representation of the shop?” Either way, if 80 percent of the buying public refer to them, whether they are good or bad reviews, that’s still a lot of potential customers reading them.
Digital reviews are here to stay, and I would say they are important to the future jobs you may or may not get into your shop. Maybe you shouldn’t put a lot of faith in the accuracy of some of these reviews if you know deep down they’re not true. It’s also good to keep in mind that most sensible people reading can see through those crackpot type reviews, and if plenty of your good customers are saying something positive in a review it will offset those wacky responses. It’s all in the perspective other people have that’s important. It’s a reflection of your abilities you want to shine through. The accuracy of these reviews is important, and sensible people as well as yourself, know the real story. Now, make sure everyone else knows too.
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