Temper – Temper
The front office door swings wide and a mom holds it open for her son who is carrying in a steering column. The column is out of her sons little S-10. From the general appearance of the column it looked like somebody was trying awfully hard to steal the little truck. Everything was distorted and bent out of shape. The steering wheel was even bent, and the horn pad looked like someone had taken an ax to the center of it. There was hardly a part of the steering column that wasn't damaged in some way or form.
“My husband tried to change the turn signal switch but couldn't figure out how to get it off,” the mom tells me.
“Yea, I brought another column with us if you could use the parts off of it to fix this one,” the son said while sitting the bent column on its steering wheel in front of me.
“So what actually happened here? I see the turn signal switch is still in place but the whole column looks like it went through a war zone. Is this a theft recovery?” I asked.
No it wasn't stolen, it was dad. Seems dad had the idea he could fix it, and wasn't going to let some little steering column kick his butt. He had seen it done a number of times and even watched a video on how to do it. But it looked like the column was way beyond repair; at this point I’m thinking that good old dad didn't know what a non-mangled steering column looked like... if he would have known, he probably would have just replaced it instead of trying to bring this bent up piece of junk back to life.
The key was still hanging out of the ignition as the column sat on the counter; even though the column was bent and contorted completely out of shape it did somewhat remind of the leaning tower of Pisa with a lot of pieces missing. While the ticket was being filled out I reached for a pocket screwdriver and removed the key and tumbler so that I could install it into the other column. The look on the sons face was pure shock as to how easy it was to remove the key and tumbler.
“Dad worked on getting that key and tumbler out for hours, look mom he took it out with a pocket screwdriver,” the surprised young man said to his mom.
The son brought in the replacement column. It had all the correct parts in place and was in fairly good shape except for a problem with the hazard switch. (Pretty much what was wrong with the other turn signal switch) It too had the ignition key hanging out of it so I showed the young lad how to push in the retaining button and remove the key and tumbler.
Mom was pretty impressed and had a big smile on her face as she watched her son maneuver the key and tumbler into the replacement column.
“The tow truck was right behind us with my sons little truck. How soon can you have all of this back together?” she asked.
“Oh, a couple of hours should do it if I don't run into any problems. I'll change out the turn signal switch with the new one you brought since the replacement column has the hazard switch broken off of it too,” I told her, “But how in the world did the original column get in such bad shape if it wasn't from a theft?”
It was dad, good old dad had been working on the little trucks steering column all weekend and had finally given up on repairing it. Mom went on to tell me the whole story.
“He came inside the house, grabbed a beer and mumbled something about a sledge hammer. He headed back out to the garage and came back out with a hatchet. He was determined to get it apart no matter what. We all watched as he proceeded to go ballistic on the little truck. The next thing I know he was a cussin' and a smackin' that steering column. Parts we're a flying everywhere and that steering column still wouldn't budge for him. He kept at it until he was too tired to swing the hatchet one more time and then he just gave up, sat down next to the truck and drank his beer,” she told me while trying to hold back the laughter.
The son had that look of agreement on his face as if this was nothing new with good old dad when it came to something he didn't understand.
“Dad always tries to fix things around the house and after he gets done breaking things up pretty good mom will take over and save the day,” the young lad told me.
When I finally got to see the little truck you could tell somebody was really having a go at destroying that steering column. With a few marks in the headliner and some obvious missed blows whacking the dash panel there was no doubt he had made up his mind that the steering wheel and the column was going to come off one way or another.
The install was no big deal, luckily it was an old enough truck that there was no security system to worry about or any air bag system installed on it. Just bolt it back up, line up the shaft and put all the trim back together. (The trim needed a little TLC though)
With the replacement column (which was untouched by good old dad) and the original key and tumbler installed the repair was done in no time at all. I gave the mom a call and a few hours later the boy had his truck back on the road again.
“I told my husband his temper was going to get him, and it sure did this time. He's really a sweet guy, but you should see what he does with plumbing... we keep that number handy at all times.” (Chuckling as if this was nothing new with the family.) “I guess it's a male ego thing or something. He's really sorry about it all, just can't seem to get it through his thick head that he doesn't know everything.” she told me.
The son then tells me, “Yea, I don't think he's going to try that again.”
“Ma'am you know it would have been a lot cheaper if you would have brought it to me before it was torn apart,” I told her.
She knew that already, but like I said, it seems to be the norm at their house. Let dad have a whack at it first until his temper gets the best of him and then call the pros. Well what can ya say, he tried, he failed, and he took more than a few whacks at it… chalk it up to a lesson learned I guess.
The mom backed up sons comment that “dad” has sworn off car repair forever, and wasn't about to try anything remotely like auto mechanics ever again. Well, time will tell about that... temper, temper mister... why don't you take up basket weaving, model ship building, or perhaps some yoga. Maybe it’s time for a mountain retreat to work out your aggression's. One thing is for sure fella; your mechanical expertise is just one big hatchet job. Do me a favor there … “dad”… have another beer…………… but don't mess with the cars anymore OK?
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By Bob K
I'm 8 month's into the program and have made gains in many areas. Having said that I'm frustrated with all that I've learned, changed and tried, I feel more and more like the gerbil in the wheel going in circles. One month up and the next down over and over. Although our ARO is increasing, our car count is decreasing. Also I've noticed we've lost some regular customers possibly due to our increased prices and labor rates. While we are making more with less cars going through the shop, I'm concerned about the downward trend of defecting clients. Anyone else involved with ATI experienced the same?
As I get ready to launch a new business, I wonder how many owners utilize Commercial Account Representatives to solicit commercial or fleet work. The facility we are considering (10 bays) sits between two towns that have approximately 2200 registered businesses. I believe we can capture our fair share of the commercial business if we make it a priority and go after it. However, I'm concerned with the overhead costs of a account representative. Does anyone have experience with using commercial account representatives to solicit commercial work? What salary model do you use--commission, base+commission, salary. As always, I appreciate your experience and input.