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Sometimes You Meet the Nicest People At the Repair Shop --- (Time for a feel good story)


Gonzo

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Sometimes You Meet the Nicest People at the Repair Shop

 

 

 

 

A referral came in the other day with a battery drain issue on a 95 Chevy truck. I was busy zooming back and forth from the office to the computer, and then to the shop with diagrams in hand for the project I was working on. The service counter and the phones were both busy as well, but an elderly couple maintained their steady pace towards the service counter, and didn't seemed to be fazed by all the commotion from the phones and bells ringing. My daughter Katie was at the front counter. She greeted them with a big smile, along with a "Hello, how can I help you?" and eagerly took down their information.

 

I was out in the shop when Katie came up to me with the keys and the work order.

 

"Dad, they say they have a battery drain. The other shop didn't touch it, but sent them directly to us instead. They'd like to wait on it if they could," Katie tells me.

 

"OK, not a problem, I'll take a look at it in just a minute," I told her as I was just about to finish up with the latest job.

 

"The old guy had to tell me all about what he had done to the truck. He had quite a story, and wanted to make sure I heard and understood every detail."

 

"Anything important about his story?" I asked.

 

"The only thing that I thought you should know is he hooked up his charger to the truck, and noticed his little meter was bouncing back and forth rather quickly. That's when he noticed he put the positive and negative on the battery backwards."

 

"Not to worry kiddo, those little chargers most people have are only trickle chargers, and if you hooked it up backwards on a car battery it would probably do more damage to his charger than it would to the car. Those things aren't strong enough to affect it. Unless his battery had an absolute "0" voltage level then I might be concerned. Well, even then.... it would be remotely impossible to charge the battery backwards with one of those type chargers. It could happen I guess, but I don't think under normal circumstances there's much chance of that happening this day and age."

 

With that bit of information jotted down, she handed me the keys and the paperwork and headed back to the front office to explain things to the old gent, while I pulled his truck into the service bay.

 

As with most of the "seasoned" drivers out there, the condition of the truck was very clean, neat and orderly. It hardly had any miles on it considering the age of the vehicle, and obviously it was garage kept for most of its life. All I needed to do was run a couple of checks on the alternator output, battery load test, and condition of all the connections.

 

Everything was great except for the load test. The battery failed miserably. I checked the date on the battery... OMG... it's ten years old. Unbelievable... how did it ever last that long? I wrote up the results of the tests and printed out the alternator results and battery status from the scanner and headed up to the front office. Katie then took the information out to the customer lobby and read back what I had written down. The elderly couple was very pleased that it only needed a new battery, and thanked her for all the printed information that she provided for them.

 

When Katie came out I had already had pulled a new battery off the shelf waiting for her to tell me to install it. "Go ahead Dad, it's a go on the battery."

 

"Way ahead of ya girl. I'll have it in, in just a sec."

 

I rechecked the results of the charge output and battery after the new one was installed to confirm the findings, and then pulled the truck back out to the customer parking area. As I came through the front door, there at the service counter was the elderly couple paying for battery. The old man turned around and reached out his hand, "I want to thank you for the quick service, young man. Oh, and did the little lady tell you what I did?"

 

"Yes she did, you hooked up one of those trickle chargers backwards I take it?"

 

The old timer began to tell me his entire story even though I said I already knew what had happened. I might as well get comfortable, because no matter how many times I nod my head, or make any kind of understanding "uh-huh's" I'm still going to hear his story... the whole story...with every detail right to the bitter end.

 

The old gentlemen's bride took a seat at one of the service counter bar stools. She put her elbow on the counter and rested her head in her hand, and sat there with a big grin on her face, while her man told his story of the backwards trickle charger. I got the impression that this is not the first time she's sat through one of his tale of tales. As the he told his story about his little charger that could... his bride would interject just enough to keep him from missing any details. (Actually, I was having more fun listening to her than I was to his story... it was quite comical I might add.) I can see my wife doing the same thing when I get to that age. Then again, she has a way of doing the very same thing now.

 

When he finished his story they both gave me a firm handshake and another thank you as they headed out the door to their truck. Katie was still on the other side of the counter, with a big smile herself.

 

"Dad, that old guy told me exactly the same thing he just told you."

 

"Kinda figured that, but that's OK with me. You know, I'll probably be doing the same thing when I get to his age."

 

I really get a kick out of listening to the older generation myself. The real admiration I had was the way this old couple walked out to their truck arm and arm. He held the car door open for his bride, and closed it behind her. As he hoped in the truck he waved goodbye to me as I waved back at him. The old truck started up and off they went down the road.

 

Ah, yes... Nice to have a relaxing type of job for a change, not the hectic "get it done, get it done… let's go, let's go… I'm running late" type of jobs. There are those occasions when things happen at the shop that really make you appreciate people and the business you're in.

 

I've got to admit, once in a while you really do meet some of the nicest people at the repair shop, very true indeed

 

 

 

After the typical day to day attitudes, grumpy, or just plain ticked off because they have to pay for car repair. It's a nice change of pace to see folks that really show a little gratitude to automechanic.

Just needed a smile once in a while... keeps my attitude adjusted too.


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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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