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ASE: Still Not Recognized By The Public?

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One of more common complaints about ASE Certification is that the public has little idea what it means or what it stands for. For the most part that’s true. I have been ASE Certified since the mid-1970s. My wife has seen my study for the tests, has seen me go take the tests, knows that our company and ASO endorses and promote ASE certifications. She also knows that my shop is a Blue Seal Shop. But when asked; “What exactly is ASE?” She gives me that blank stare.


My wife along with countless others may not know exactly what ASE stands for, but they do know it stands for something of value. I remember waiting in my lawyer’s office and on the wall was an award given to my lawyer form a law organization. For the life if me I cannot remember the organization, nor do I remember the name of the organization. But, I do remember thinking it was a positive thing.


How do you feel about ASE and does it matter that your customers may not know what it stands for. And, should we be doing more to promote ASE within our own shops?



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I am ASE certified. As stated in the original post I think most common customers know just enough about ASE certification to know that it is supposedly a "good thing", but in all reality I have known many mechanics who were ASE certified that didn't know their head from the tail end of a crankshaft.


For that reason I am really not in favor of the certification. Seems like a waste of money to me. I certified in several categories when I worked at a shop before (mainly because my boss paid for it) and I really don't think I was a better mechanic for it. Now that I own my own business I went ahead and recertified in ONE category just so that when people ask me "Are you ASE certified?" I can say "yes." That's all they ever ask...that's all they know enough to care about. No one has ever asked me before letting me have their car for a brake job "Are you ASE certified in Brake Repair?".


I would be more in favor of hands on trade schools with actual training on what it's like to work on vehicles from diagnosing a DOA problem the minute it rolls in the bay to installing or repairing the part at fault.


If we had schools like that which produced QUALITY techs then we would have a resource from which to select QUALITY employees who would have already been working on cars for a couple years and would know what was going on instead of these kids coming up who aced every ASE test (by studying a book) but have very little actual experience in the field. We would be able to hire employees that could generate revenue from the first week they are hired instead of having to be trained for a couple of years in ACTUAL auto repair before they really are able to sustain themselves.

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I think all of you have valid points. I do wish ASE as an organization did more to advertise the benefits of being certified to the general public so when they go to look for a mechanic, they have more than just a hazy idea of why it is good to be ASE certified. I also agree that I have met some mechanics that were ASE certified in some manner or another who were just terrible mechanics. But I also believe that I do not think the ASE certifications made those mechanics bad technicians, they had a host of other issues that were more specific to those individuals. I have never met a technician where I have thought they had too many ASE certifications or I thought it hampered them in any way. I hear from a lot of technicians that I interview that do not have ASE certifications that always say how they are worthless or so easy to obtain. I lean on the side of if they were so easy to obtain, why not get them?

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I believe that ASE doesn't get much merrit because it doesn't deserve much in my opinion. They are simple tests that anyone can take and pass and really means nothing but that you can pass a test. My customers feel much more secure in the fact that I have engineering degrees than they do about some ASE certs. I've noticed that the higher end cars people just want to know if you are a "certified BMW" tech and know nothing about having ASE certs. I can't even think of a way to make customers feel secure because our techs are ASE certified and I've tried.


So now I just use ASE certs internally for raises and to insure my techs have a clue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I lean on the side of if they were so easy to obtain, why not get them?



Because they cost a lot of money and don't really provide much of anything in the way of benefits to the certification holder.


Is that too obvious an answer?


I agree that ASE certifications don't HURT anyone, and they are perhaps valuable internally in the sense that it at least assures the certification holder has SOME CLUE about the basic principles of vehicle systems and repairs. If you are a big shop who just happens to have hundreds and hundreds of dollars lying around to buy a bunch of ASE certifications they by all means knock yourself out.


For myself personally, however, I am in an early phase of my business where I am trying to figure out ways to scrimp money so that I can afford the proper EQUIPMENT that is going to make it possible for me to do my job and serve the customer. Dropping money on extra ASE certifications is very close to the BOTTOM of my priority list.

Edited by IntegrityAutoCare
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Thanks Integrity Auto Care for the compliment! We're actually a car wash with an auto repair facility on site....hence our name. I agree with a lot of what everyone has stated on this thread. I do believe ASE certifications are meaningful though. Its very much like a college degree. Because you have a college degree does not mean you are smarter than someone without one but it does mean that you are able to put your mind to something, study for it, and get it done. From our past experiences of dealing with technicians, the techs that do not have ASE certifications don't have it because they are unable to or not willing to obtain it. Not because of the money or because the general public is not as familiar with it, but because they are not willing to put in the time to study and take the test.

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  • Solution

When we speak of success and taking care of our customers, every aspect of the business needs to be considered, and ASE certification and continuous training is part of it.


I know, I know, I know...I have heard ALL the objections: The cost, there are great mechanics out there that are not ASE certified, ASE does not mean you can really fix a car, the public has no idea what ASE is, on and on and on and on.


Every profession requires some sort of training and certification. You can't cut hair without a license, and yet you can hire someone off the street tomorrow with no accreditation and he can repair your mother's or sister's brakes??? Is this the industry that shines with professionalism?


Business is tough, I have been around the block more times then I care to admit. I have seen a lot in my 40 years since staring as a mechanic straight out of high school in 1973. I too have many reservations with ASE, but the more we move to an industry with standards and raise the bar, the more respect and compensation we will receive.

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I think what would be more effective then ASE certifications is that if some technical school or group of shops would offer an auto technican apprentice program similar to what the trades do. My son is a union trained plumber. He spent 5+ years in an apprentice program which consisted of working five days a week plus attended classes two nights each week. He started at a pay scale of approximately $7.50 which was about 1/3 of what a journeyman plumber was paid and then received a pay increase each year. He actually took a pay cut to become an apprentice. After five years of training he took the state tests both hands on and written and passed and became a journeyman.

My plan is to eventually turn my business into just such a trade school. One step at a time, though....

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've read all the comments on this subject, and... I would have to agree with all of them.


Now, let's step way out there on the limb... all by ourselves and look at it from the customers stand point.


A certified ASE technician doesn't mean didly to them. Right?




Here's my take on it.


IF a customer looks or glances at the Blue seal and figures it means they are dealing with a "good thing" (as was described in a couple of the comments) then ... (in their mind) chances are it's going to be more expensive to get the car worked on at this shop rather than a shop that's not certified. Probably, maybe... could be a regular customer who doesn't care if you're certified or not. However, the real issue is how do you make the general public aware of the need for certifications and the need for such things as a Blue Seal shop.


Ok, here we are out on that limb I mentioned. Let's imagine that only certified shops and techs can purchase certain parts. Such as anything that requires programming. This way the parts people avoid the ever popular "This part you sold me is defective" from the unknown consumer who is trying to fix his car. Now, in order to get the work done they have to find a Blue Seal shop that can not only purchase the "correct" parts but also do the programming. Let's face it, if you're in the home heating and air conditioning business you've got a clinch on a new home HVAC unit. I can't go down to Lowes and purchase a unit, in fact I probably can't hook it up without a licensed installer. But I can run down to the dealership parts department and buy a new instrument cluster even though (speaking as a consumer) I don't have a clue how to program it.


Ok, I'll get to the point. If ASE certification wants to be something that is NEEDED. Then you have to make is somehow worthy for the mechanic to take the tests and GET certified. You want to bring in new techs into the business? How about bring up the point about certifications and how this trade is a lifetime trade such as any other blue collar trade. If they knew going into an apprenticeship that you'll be in a class all your own because you've been taught to perform a repair by experts in the field and YOU will be as respected as much as any another other tradesman.


Pissin' off a few parts venders, and quite a few old timers that don't believe they need some stinkin' badge to fix a car is going to happen. In the long run the time of accepting any changes in the way we do our business will be short lived. The future of the trade is where it's at, not what we've done in the past... none of it worked anyway.


Make the certifications mean something, not just a piece of paper on a wall.

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It's unfortunate, but I have to agree with you Gonzo. There are many shops that work hard to make their shops credible. However, as you stated, it does not amount to much unless as an industry we are accepted as credible.


Have you seen the new AutoZone commercials? The voice-over starts out, "Be proud of what of what you did". But they are talking about DIYers doing their own work on their own cars, and not referring to a pro. How in world can we gain credibility when those in our own industry make no distinction between the Professional Mechanic and a weekend warrior? And all to please Wall Street.


After reading your post the whole issue with ASE is the same issue we have been battling for a long time: To be accepted as a credible trade that takes a great deal of training, talent and investment.


We will keep the fight going. I will be the first to run up the hill....any followers?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Let's add some more fuel to the fire.

Look at how cars have progressed in the last 50 years. What is the one common factor that has changed more dramatically than anything else in cars. I'm not talking about technology wise now... Think of what has the government mandated to be done to cars. Well for one is fuel mileage. . . . . . BUT... the real issue.... occupant safety issues.

First it was to lower the smog levels by controlling emissions. That started primarily first. Then it was seat belts, then air bags, ABS, shoulder belts, TPMS, and now auto stop systems, GPS controls for accident avoidance, so on and so on.

Everything about a car that was put into practical use had something to do with occupant safety.


Now, the problem as I see it. If some Yahoo buys a bunch of 134 at a store and blows a can or two into the atmosphere isn't he endangering everyone else? Or, a guy who puts on his own brake pads (Cheap parts or good parts... doesn't make a difference...because those products have to meet a government minimum standard... so cheap parts don't matter.) and after installing the brake pads he puts one pad on backwards and locks his wheel up. Isn't that a safety issue as well?


SO... I'll get to the point. It seems to me that the real way of getting ASE certifications, shop licensing, programmed or any type of part that can be deemed a safety issue to the general public put on a "only if you're certified" type of sale... the only way I see this happening is IF it comes down to a safety issue for the unknowing, untrained, and dollar saving consumers that the legislation can create some sort of law for it all.

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Sad but true. I guess you could say "Some guy" has a lot of friends... "Them guys, Those guys, and That guy" LOL None of which could even pass a simple test to tell if they are qualified enough to call themselves a "mechanic" LOL


I needed a good laugh Jeff... ya done did it. :)

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  • 1 year later...

This always irritated me. My daughter needs a license to cut hair and my brother need a license to be a plumber, but anyone can slap pads on a grooved rotor and then hurl the 3,000 pound car down the highway at 75 MPH. Never made sense to me. I can not believe that feds or the states have not picked up on this. Especially for the fact that their can be huge dollars in it for them.


Do I want more government in my life? NO I do not. But we need someone to make this industry more of a safe professional industry.


In 2012 there were 33,561 deaths from car crashes. I can not find that stats but I think it is far to say that no one died from a hair cut or leaky sink.

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This always irritated me. My daughter needs a license to cut hair and my brother need a license to be a plumber, but anyone can slap pads on a grooved rotor and then hurl the 3,000 pound car down the highway at 75 MPH. Never made sense to me. I can not believe that feds or the states have not picked up on this. Especially for the fact that their can be huge dollars in it for them.


Do I want more government in my life? NO I do not. But we need someone to make this industry more of a safe professional industry.


In 2012 there were 33,561 deaths from car crashes. I can not find that stats but I think it is far to say that no one died from a hair cut or leaky sink.


Great comments and well said!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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