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Top Ten Pet Peeves - - - Annoying facts of life in the auto biz


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Top Ten Pet Peeves


Every day at the repair shop there’s another challenge to overcome. When things go smoothly the day glides by without notice. One day passes to the next, so on and so on. But, there are those occasions when one of life’s little obstinate reminders comes along to let you know that every day can’t be perfect. Usually, just to irk even the best mechanic off for no reason at all, except to be a royal inconvenience. You know, it’s those daily activities and tasks that create their own obstacles just to rub your wrenches the wrong way. They make ya wanna flip your pressure gauges into the next service bay.


I know for a fact that there’s not enough morning coffee to ease the frustration when you are in the midst of working all day and some little insignificant problem comes along that isn’t part of the big picture you’re trying to solve. It just adds to the challenge of the day. You’ve already got to deal with the cars, the owners, the tools, the weather, and the usual soap opera stuff in the shop. Now ya gotta throw this into the mix. It’s just one of those tasks that shouldn’t be an issue but certainly can add to a tension headache and a darn good chance for a swift kick to the offending item. Hey, let’s face it, nothing’s perfect, but it sure would be nice when the simple things in the shop just stayed simple. Yea… like that’s going to happen.


Here’s a list of my top ten pet peeves of the auto shop.


10# - You drive a car onto the lift, set 3 of the 4 legs, but the last one won’t line up or get past the tire, unless you hop back in the car and move it just a bit more. (I’ve figured it out… 9 out of 10 cars don’t fit the first time. So, 1 out of 10 cars is going to give me fits in a different way.)


9# - How come the air hose is always 6 inches too short to reach that last bolt? (It doesn’t matter how much extra hose you sling off the reel, it’s still 6 inches short.)


8# - Tool borrowers who borrow tools and don’t bring them back. Tool borrowers who bring them back…broken. Tool borrowers who don’t wipe the grease off of my tools after they’re done with them. (Ok…in general… “tool borrowers”.)


7# - Small cars with gym equipment, boxes full of random stuff, and or a pile of clothes behind the driver’s seat. When I try to move the seat back, so I can drive it into the shop … it won’t move….! (I don’t think I can slip between the wheel and the seat in some of these cars, even if I went on a diet… ain’t enough room, people! ! ! )


6# - Pocket screwdrivers with extra strong magnets on the tip. Magnets are good, but not when you lean over an engine and the screwdriver attaches itself to the nearest piece of metal… every time! (The last one that did this is in my tool box… safely away from being the next projectile across the shop.)


5# - The last guy to use the oil recovery tank filled it up with the last oil change, and didn’t bother to empty it. (There’s a price on that guy’s head. He don’t know it, but he’s a marked man….)


4# - Service writers who don’t ask questions, but will write down anything the customer tells them, even if it makes absolutely no sense at all. “The car sounds like a ballerina with a sore foot.” This is NOT a good explanation of a faulty suspension component! (Let’s face it, I ain’t no ballerina, haven’t a clue what it would be like to have a sore foot as one.)


3# - Drop a car off, explain (in over abundant detail) about the problem they are having, but fail to mention the outside door handle is broken, and that I have to crawl in from the passenger side. (So, you want me to perform some Olympic gymnastics feat to fix your car? ‘Fraid not… fix the fX%#& door!)


2# - You ask if I’m a mechanic, then proceed to tell me how brilliant you are at my profession. Later on in the conversation I find out the cars you’ve worked on are all for relatives of yours… most of which don’t speak to you anymore after you’ve done your “magic” under the hood. (Oh I know, everybody is a mechanic. Might as well fess up… but I don’t need to brag about what I do… my work speaks for itself.)


1# - Engineered disasters, poor designs, and unbelievably impossible to get to bolts or components that only an idiot would have designed that way in the first place. Then show zero labor time to remove said part, which only makes it worse when I bid the job out to what it “really” is going to take. Then… as usual… the customer calls another shop, who uses the book time (only) never having done this particular job before, and ends up with the repair. Then, a few days later the same car is back with “other” problems related to somebody trying to get to those hard to reach bolts or components and has damaged something along the way. AND, of course… it’s all my fault don’t ya know………… (The battle was lost even before I started. Should’ve been a ballerina…)


Bonus Pet Peeve

Start an electrical short trace from one end of a circuit and 9 chances out of 10 the problem is on the opposite end. And it doesn’t matter if you try to “out think” it by starting on the other end … it’s still going to be on the opposite end. (Murphy’s Law… it’s a done fact…)


I think I should have started this list as the top 100 instead of the top ten, because there’s a lot more of them out there. It’s just the kind of thing that makes ya wanna split your sockets sometimes. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s those little things that accumulate as the day goes by that makes ya wanna snap off your Snap On ratchets. The mere thought of another half-cracked-silly issue that shouldn’t be an issue showing up makes locking up the tool box and try it all again tomorrow rather tempting. But, you know you’ll stick it out, you’ll get it done, grumble a bit of course, and as anybody in the business will tell you… it’s just another day and a part of this crazy world of auto repair.


Yep, it’s just another one of those quirks that life throws at you now and then. Best thing to do is to shake it all off and deal with it. Go on about your merry way, and try to keep from bending another pry bar into a pretzel. Tomorrow’s another day. Yes, there’s always a tomorrow… and I’m sure there will always be another pet peeve just waiting to be a part of your productive day. Happy wrenchin’!




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I think you forgot a biggie! They bring in the car for a repair and when they pick it up, something you never worked on touched or related breaks, or was broke! and the customer says "what did you do to my car, such and such does not work anymore, or a warning light is on!".

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Way back when door ajar systems first came out and they were not on the scanners "radar" you had to actually disconnect each door. I had a guy come in who insisted on watching. He watched me look up the wiring diagram and how it was connected to each door and how the light worked. I told him, "Pick a door. Because no matter where I start I'm not going to be correct, and I'm charging you for each door I tear down." He said that was OK and to start with the driver's door since it was used the most and that he NEVER opens the rear doors.


I checked the driver's door... nope that ain't it. He said, "Let's check the pass. front door next...nope not that one either. Well, since we were on the pass. side... do the rear pass. side... nope not that one either. I moved over to the driver's rear door and wouldn't ya know it... the door WAS ajar. "CLICK" the door shut completely and the light went out.


If the lookie-see owner wasn't hovering over me the whole time I probably would have just walked around and slammed all the doors first... but he insisted that he didn't use the rear doors ever. His choice... his bill. LOL


He called his wife and told her what I found, that's when she told him about the grandkids getting in the car the other day. (They have another car that they use for the grandkids and the kids mistakenly got in the wrong car.)


There's a pet peeve that really strips my ratchets.... customers who think they know... but don't ... and should keep their dang mouths shut and sit in the waiting room. LMAOF


I got paid for his remarks and all the work I put into it... so what's fair is fair. LOL

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Auto shop owners are always looking for ways to improve production levels. They focus their attention on their technicians and require certain expectations of performance in billable labor hours. While technicians must know what is expected of them, they have a limited amount of control over production levels. When all factors are considered, the only thing a well-trained technician has control over is his or her actual efficiency.
      As a review, technician efficiency is the amount of labor time it takes a technician to complete a job compared to the labor time being billed to the customer. Productivity is the time the technician is billing labor hours compared to the time the technician is physically at the shop. The reality is that a technician can be very efficient, but not productive if the technician has a lot of downtime waiting for parts, waiting too long between jobs, or poor workflow systems.
      But let’s go deeper into what affects production in the typical auto repair shop. As a business coach, one of the biggest reasons for low shop production is not charging the correct labor time. Labor for extensive jobs is often not being billed accurately. Rust, seized bolts, and wrong published labor times are just a few reasons for lost labor dollars.
      Another common problem is not understanding how to bill for jobs that require extensive diagnostic testing, and complicated procedures to arrive at the root cause for an onboard computer problem, electrical issue, or drivability issue. These jobs usually take time to analyze, using sophisticated tools, and by the shop’s top technician. Typically, these jobs are billed at a standard menu labor charge, instead of at a higher labor rate. This results in less billed labor hours than the actual labor time spent. The amount of lost labor hours here can cripple a shop’s overall profit.
      Many shop owners do a great job at calculating their labor rate but may not understand what their true effective labor is, which is their labor sales divided by the total labor hours sold. In many cases, I have seen a shop that has a shop labor rate of over $150.00 per hour, but the actual effective labor rate is around $100. Not good.
      Lastly, technician production can suffer when the service advisors are too busy or not motivated to build relationships with customers, which results in a low sales closing ratio. And let’s not forget that to be productive, a shop needs to have the right systems, the right tools and equipment, an extensive information system, and of course, great leadership.
      The bottom line is this; many factors need to be considered when looking to increase production levels. While it does start with the technician, it doesn’t end there. Consider all the factors above when looking for ways to improve your shop’s labor production.
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