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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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Wondering how you all handle repair work to your own vehicles. How do you pay, how do you handle parts costs, write an RO or not, how does it affect gross sales. I currently write an RO, pay the guys time just like any other job, but cost the parts to myself. The RO is for zero sales but has tech time charged to it. Wondering how others do it. I also have too many vehicles...
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Hey guys and gals (if i'm not the only gal on here lol)! I have a questions for the other shop owners or estimators on the forum. Lately i've been dealing with a lot of headaches from insurance companies dragging their feet because we are not a "preferred" shop on their network. This one in particular that i'm dealing with is just driving me nuts. Breakdown of the ordeal: Customer dropped off their vehicle on 2/11/17 which was a Saturday. I called their insurance to notify them of the drop off the same day. Got ahold of someone on the 14th on when they could send someone out to inspect. Was instructed to write up my own estimate and take photos and submit it to their claim email and that because we are not a "preferred" shop, it could take 7-10 days for review. That was completed the same day (14th). I've followed up with them on the 16th to confirm the estimate and photos were received. Adjuster said that it didnt look like it was so I forwarded it over to her. I sent photos via a google drive link that allows others to view the photos. She said she was having issues so I just sent them as attachments. Finally worked for her and said it was forwarded to the person set to review... this was on the 16th. Yesterday, I emailed to check for status and was told that the person reviewing cannot see the pictures. This had me fuming. WHY was I not contacted back on the 16th or the 17th stating that? Why did I only hear it when I reached out. I resent photos, adjuster confirmed she received them and had forwarded them over again. Hours later asked if she had a confirmation that the reviewer was able to view and received a "well she hasnt contacted me back so that would mean that there isnt any issue..." if thats the truth then did she not send an email back on the 16th saying she couldnt view them? And if she did, why did I only find out on the 23rd when I reached out??!! I emailed a lengthy stern email requesting the reviewers info and the adjusters supervisors info... here we are 22 hours later, no reply. So after all that.... i'm afraid that it will still take another 7-10 days to review and another 7-10 for payment. My question here is, am I entitled to any storage fees because of their lack of concern and being put on the back burner because we arent a DRP shop of theirs? The customer is very patient but I am not. Especially when I hear the insurance adjuster straight out tell me, "oh you arent our preferred shop? its going to take longer then"... talk about steering tactics. Anyone have any words of wisdom on what I can do at this point? Am I in the right to request storage? Is there any law that I can cite to make them straighten up? I am in southern California if that helps. Thanks in advance!!!
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There’s a time and place that everything that is new becomes old. It’s so true in the computer world that changes takes place almost overnight it seems. One day it’s Windows 7 the next it’s Windows 10. In some respects these changes greatly improves how the average consumer’s interacts with each other and conducts their daily lives.
Which for the most part, is what all those changes are supposed to be about. Those same principals affect the automotive world too. New procedures, new testing methods, different scanners capabilities, and tons of new technology seem to pop up overnight. Which also means one more thing to the automotive mechanic… time to update their personal skills.
In most states there’s no regulation to keep someone from poking around under the hood of a car, or for that matter, hanging a shingle on a shop door and call themselves a “mechanic”. Tools and training aren’t requirements either. The unsuspecting consumer is at the mercy of the phone book (and other sources) to find a shop that can actually make the appropriate repairs they need. They never ask the shop whether or not they use the latest equipment or knows how to use what equipment they already have. No, of course not, price is the important part, not training or technology, and price seems to be their only incentive to go to certain shops. They’ll take cheap services over skilled mechanics every time and then when it doesn’t work out, they’ll blame the entire industry for their misfortunes.
But, on the other hand, it takes more than money and a few high end scanners to make a shop function properly. It takes trained individuals that dedicate their time and efforts into performing the tasks at hand. If you’re lacking in one of those areas you’re probably going to have a tough time keeping up with the changes. Scanners you can buy, money you can borrow, but the trained technician, well… that’s another story.
Unlike it was decades ago, and I’m talking a long long time ago, a good mechanic could learn nearly everything they needed to know by listening and observing other mechanics in their local area. In fact most of the tools they needed could be purchased off of the tool trucks or at the local department store. Even though the tool trucks offer nearly every conceivable tool these days, they don’t have access to the manufacturer type scanners and certain specialty tools. Which can be extremely important when it comes to certain programming issues and repairs. But, tools don’t make a mechanic.
These days, the on the job training aspect has become more than a mechanic checking out what’s going on in the next service bay. It’s worldwide now, with different mechanic groups popping up everywhere. Everything from diesel mechanics to scope readers and anything else in between. There are groups with websites, on Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of other places. Some are private, some are public, but they all have one thing in common, and that’s sharing the knowledge about today’s cars.
Think of it this way, the knowledge needed for today’s cars is far more in-depth than one person could ever completely understand. It took a team of engineers to design and create these modern rolling computers and one mechanic can’t possibly know every aspect of every system in every car. To be today’s mechanic you really have to be more involved with the world around us and absorb as much of that information you can from these groups across the globe.
Obviously, some things haven’t changed that much on cars. Such as tie rod ends, and lug nuts for example. Sure, there are different styles and different sizes but their functions are exactly the same as they were 50 years ago. But, that can’t be said about the engines electronics, transmissions, heating systems, charging systems and a whole lot of other systems that I could mention. Let’s not forget about all the systems the latest technologies have made available to the modern car. Such as lane assist, adaptive cruise control, tire monitor systems, and so much more.
These are the changes the modern mechanic has to keep up with or they’ll soon fall behind. Technology has changed the car mechanic world forever. You might ask, how is a mechanic to know about all of these changes? Simple, get involved and be involved with a these technician’s groups and use their knowledge to advance your own.
Now, for those younger techs out there. That doesn’t mean ignore the grumpy old guy in far back corner that the boss sends all the old cars to. There’s a lot more he has probably forgotten than you’ll ever find while tapping around on your phone. Just the same, when the old guy comes over and asks you to reset the oil reminder light it may not be that he doesn’t know, more likely he’s letting you youngster feel important. He may not be running Windows 10 but he’s definitely not obsolete. He’s fine running the older Mechanics 1.0 as his operating system. Besides, they’re usually pretty smart guys in their own rights and probably don’t want to know or care to learn all that computer mumbo-jumbo.
Think of updating your mechanic skills the same way you would think of updating your old computer. No doubt a lot of shops have a few old scanners sitting on shelves that aren’t used anymore. Mainly, because they’ve been outdated by the newer systems and most likely the cars those scanners were designed for are long gone as well.
However, changing to a new system on your laptop also means that you’ve got to learn how to use it too, that goes for the mechanic as well. Everything eventually gets updated, and if you want to keep current you’ve got to update your skills as well as your computer. There’s always something that’s changing, new software, new tools, and of course new skills to learn. It’s all part of the modern mechanics world with something new to learn each and every day. Keeping up is part of the process, besides, you don’t want to be the last guy in the shop still running on Mechanics 3.0.
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http://www.autonews.com/article/20170124/RETAIL05/170129948/ford-will-offer-parts-for-non-ford-vehicles Dealers after your customers? Yup.
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