Article: Diversity Of The Mechanic - - Mechanics knowledge background has evolved just like the cars ... Now if the rest of the population would. . .By Gonzo
Diversity in Mechanics
The days when nearly every driver was aware of what was going on under the hood of their car has faded into the history books. Not only has the driver lost touch with the inner workings of their automobile, the car itself has become more “user-friendly”. There’s no hand crank to twist, no choke lever to pull out, no manual brakes, and anymore, hardly no one rolls a window down by hand or uses a clutch to shift the transmission.
Less and less effort is required by the driver to operate the vehicle. What was once a series of steps you had to accomplish to start a car has now become automated to the point all you have to do is push a button and the car starts. Gone are the cold morning starts where you had to pump the gas pedal, crank the engine, then listen to the motor to see if the fast idle had set or not. But, you always had to be careful that you didn’t flood the cold engine, and if you did… that brought on a whole other set of tasks the driver had to accomplish correctly.
It’s not just starting the vehicle that needs less driver influence, even parallel parking has become a hands free procedure. Now, with all the cameras and radar systems attached to the car there’s hardly anything to do except be a passenger. Even then, you’re basked in a climate controlled cocoon with atmospheric controls such as lighting, massage chairs, heated seats, and soothing background music all the while computers and sensors are controlling every movement.
Growing up around car repair shops might have made a difference as to how I look at these complicated thing-a-ma-jigs they refer to as the modern car. They’re not just a ‘car’ anymore. In my youth it was nothing to see a gang of dads leaning over a hood when something went wrong. Today, there’s not a whole lot to see. It’s all plastic covers with various caps and knobs for adding fluids and if you’re lucky there might even still be a dipstick under there too.
Diagnosing and repairing the modern car isn’t quite the same as it was back in the day all the dad’s would gather around the fenders. Even though the operation of the vehicle has been somewhat automated the repair side of things has gone other way. Parts swapping, guess until ya get it, and the old ask your uncle Bob what’s wrong with your car is as out of date as the crank start. But, I still find it rather amazing how the engineers and designers managed to “dummy-down” all the possible problems that possibly could happen to a little check engine light on the dash. Can you imagine what it would be like if they didn’t?
Service lights, warning indicators, and digital messages inform the driver of the severity or condition of the vehicle. Although, most of the information that appears on the digital screen is more of a generic message or sometimes even displayed as a short message telling the driver of the condition of the vehicle without actually telling them precisely what’s wrong. Even if it did, who would understand it? Surely not the driver (in most cases), that’s left up to the service technician.
You know ‘that’ guy. The one that overcharges you for those repairs you don’t understand or even care to know because you’re far above the educational requirements of a certified mechanic. Of course, anyone who’s been around the business for any length of time will tell you that the days of the grease jockey recharging your air conditioner by slappin’ a can of Freon in your car so you can whiz off to work are about as far gone as 2 ply tires. That’s where diversity between mechanics and the technical advances start to show through.
The technical training for a good mechanic with advanced skill levels can exceed the requirements of most 4 year college degrees. The big difference between the academic degree and the technical school degree is still greatly debated. To me, the requirements of the educational programs differ only in the fact that in an academic setting you’re required a certain level of English, math, and the other various ‘general’ skills for graduation. The trade schools generally don’t have those academic requirements for graduation. The big problem is the non-car aficionados (general public) don’t want to admit that the family car requires a college degree to keep them in tip top shape. So why would the guy changing the oil need to have a degree?
There’s a very good possibility that a shortage of technicians qualified to work on the modern car is drastically going to increase in the next decade or so. Of course, ask anyone in the business now and they’ll tell you the average age of the professional mechanic has slowly been increasing to well over 50 years of age. That might have a lot do with the startup requirements put on the new technicians coming into the field. To many times a young mechanic gets into the business with those wild eyed ideas that they can fix anything that rolls into their service bay, only to find out their skills sets lack a lot of the required knowledge in understanding the complexities of the modern types of problems their facing.
That brings us back to that college grad again. They’ve spent a ton of money on their education, and some may never pay those loans off for years, if not decades. Technical college fees remain low in comparison, and with luck, the average educated technician will have their tuition fees taken care of long before the college grad has theirs paid off. Here’s something else to think about, while a lot of college grads take on temporary jobs like a waiter while their waiting for their big break into that six figure job they’ve been trained for, most grads of the tech schools are out working in the very field they’ve been trained for. They might be the college grad on the lube rack, but he’s there, in his field of choice getting his hands dirty and working towards his ultimate goals. Chances are, the mechanic will be at that very restaurant having lunch while wearing their rental uniform covered in the days grease and grime and the waiter…. well, they’re still working for tips.
The real issue for the mechanic’s world is the acceptance of the educational level required and the respect that the mechanic deserves as well as being compensated for said education and skills needed. I do believe, in time, the shortage of trained-qualified technicians will turn into an increase in wages across the board. Which is just what the industry needs to draw in those new faces to the service bays. All this can start back in high school. Somebody needs to tell the school guidance counselors that being an automotive mechanic is a trade with high expectations and compensation, not a last resort job for those undesirable individuals that didn’t pass their SAT’s.
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My successful dealing with a difficult customer- "I'm going to give you the best damn customer service you have ever seen!"By Jay Huh
Been reading a lot of books lately and one of the things I learned is that there are 4 different personality types. Assertive personalities respond best to assertive people which is why I answered the way I did. But yea long story short, customer comes in for brake diag, gets brakes done, we had to jump the car to get it started bc we kept trans in neutral to diag brakes to see if they're locking up. Anyway we let him know that and tell him that battery should charge by the time he gets home, which it should've.
Service advisor picks up phone call, angry customer, car wont start. He accuses us with "sabotaging the vehicle and doing something to his alternator. Goes on to say that he is calling the police, has friends at the police, contacting attorney general, coming to my shop and stopping people from coming to my shop, leaving bad reviews everywhere... drops a few f bombs here and there... anyway I try and explain the situation but he wont let me. Finally I say "John! (made up for sake of customer) If you want to call the police and the attorney, I'm not going to stop you, but if you want a SOLUTION to your PROBLEM which is getting your car started as soon as possible, I am your best bet. I'll see you in 20 min and I'm going to give you the best damn customer service you've ever seen! What's your address." more or less how it went.... gave him a jump, he said battery was only a year old.. sticker said 02/13 which made it 4 years old and corroded. Showed him, explained, and suggested he go to the nearest Autozone for a new battery and he did. He told me thanbks like 3x and apologized. I do understand the customers frustration tho, no starts are never fun
By Joe Marconi
Perhaps one of the best ways to motivate employees is to give them regular positive feedback. Too often, employees only hear when things go wrong. And while we all need to know when we fail, it’s more important to recognize when things go right. People want to know when they win.
People also like to be included in on the progress of the company. It’s important that everyone in your shop feels that what they do really matters to the success of the company. This also promotes the right culture and builds a strong team.
Create a strategy where you give your employees feedback on their progress, especially positive feedback. Look for things you can point out that recognizes an action by an employee that resulted in recent success. This will help to reinforce the behavior you are looking for and will increase the odds of repeating that same behavior.
The feeling of accomplishment and being recognized for it is a powerful motivator in the workplace, perhaps stronger than money. People want to feel good about themselves. As shop owners, implement this strategy and ignite your workplace toward success.
Remember, your success is dependent on the success of the people around.
I was on the phone with my Carquest/Advance parts guy today and he knows how much their "diagnostics" affects us as shops and how much it annoys me. So he mentions to me that yesterday, they received an email from corporate stating that June 1st, all Advance stores may no longer perform free code scans for customers.
I thought this was a pretty big deal, if it is true, for us independent shops.
Hopefully this is correct and will be coming to all Advance/Carquest stores. He said judging by the email, it's not just our regional stores but all stores.
Maybe we can keep things changing for the better.
Next up, let's get Autozone and the other stores to stop their "diagnostics" as people like to call them.
What do you all think? Is this good for us, or will it not really make a difference?