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I hired a new guy out of tech school. Nice kid, arrives on time, is polite. I understand he's green but willing to learn, and that's OK with me. Here's my issue; he's slow. It takes him 5x longer than normal to do anything. I'm not sure if hes nervous or what so I have been giving him basic jobs like used car prepping so hes not hurting the customers. Even basic detailing takes him way too long, like 4 hours to wash and wax a car with no buffing or any kind of paint restoration. Tires - forget it, 45 minutes each. How long do I wait before giving up? He does the job right but minimum wage is too much at his speed. I set reasonable goals he can't meet them. Frustrating.

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I'm dealing with EXACTLY the same issue. New guy, great attitude, good at his job. However, extremely slow. He is also on salary (hourly). I'm contemplating doing the same thing ... moving him to flat rate.



I'd certainly have a conversation with him about it. It may be the spark he needs OR it could push him out of the shop fast. Either way, I would suggest to have someone quality check his work until he is up to standard.

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You don't even have to put him on 100% commission. You could do 50/50 or just set a weekly goal. I also recommend getting a dry erase board and posting his weekly/daily goal. This makes it easy for him to remember his goal and he'll likely start to track his hours on his own. This really works well if you have 2 or more people, since they naturally will try to compete with each other. If you have 2 or more people, it would also be a good idea to set a 'group goal' or a goal for everyone to hit their expectation. This will allow the group to push each other to hit their individual marks/goals. I've started to implement this in my shop with just 2 employees (1 service advisor and 1 helper) with great success. I can easily say the whiteboard with goals on it has been a great ROI.


I also forgot to mention, the reason I asked how much experience he had was because he might not really know what it means to hustle. If you stick him with a guy putting 80 hours out a week and let him just watch, then he might get a better understanding of what you expect. My helper was slow at first, but did a great job. I finally told him to just watch me do a few oil changes, tire rotations, etc and follow behind me. Simply just explaining to him that you can visually check brakes through the wheels as your are raising the car up, check wiper blades and turns signals on the test drive instead of in the stall, eyeball for oil leaks while you are draining the oil and get your oil filter before it's done, etc. Once he saw some of the shortcuts, he picked up the pace. Things like setting rotors to turn and then going to do something else while it cuts might seem obvious to veterans, but a new guy might think he has to stand next to the lathe the whole time the rotor is cutting in case something happens. Or they might think they have to watch the oil drain into the bucket the whole time until it's done. Gotta remember, he doesn't want to screw up and make the boss mad. I've been there, my helper has been there. Try to teach him, but if he just can't seem to get it after a few months, I'd say let him go.

Edited by mmotley
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Remember, we all started somewhere. Flat Rate mentality is learned. Someone right out of tech school will not be quick. They are taught to do it right, not fast and check it over and over again to make sure it is right. He will be nervous for a while. He will need to be taught how a technician in the real world needs to hustle. Good luck.

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Someone right out of tech school will not be quick. They are taught to do it right, not fast and check it over and over again to make sure it is right. He will be nervous for a while. He will need to be taught how a technician in the real world needs to hustle.



All throughout tech school we were told about the idiot who didn't torque down the drain plug and blew up an engine! Or the guy who forgot to tighten lug nuts and caused a customer to have an accident. Or the guy who didn't tighten down a fuel rail and caused an engine fire. And they all ended up in small claims court! Etc, etc, etc. KMS is right, they have been taught to do things correctly and to thoroughly check their work.

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Thanks for the advice, I'm going to have him just shadow me for a week to get the hang of things. He just finished his 2nd part time week, no mistakes except for taking home a set of car keys in his pocket. Its been the busiest February on record which is good but not good for training. I was figuring February would be a good month to start a new guy so I could spend some time breaking him in, but Its been balls to the wall 12 hours a day.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Bad news update, his slow but acceptable work progressed into very, very slow sloppy work. Showed up late a couple times. I can't afford 10% productivity. Back to square 1.


I feel bad like its my fault somehow, but I wouldn't apply for a job I couldn't do. I'm to blame for not performing a proper interview. I'd like to assume all applicants are truthful, but its not the case. This guy wanted a paycheck, not a career.

Edited by alfredauto
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Sadly, It seems like the work ethic of our generation ( mid 30's and older) has not transferred to younger generation(s). I have friends that are auto instructors and they say the students get less motivated every year. Finding anyone that is a reasonable tech is a challenge, let alone a great tech!


And it is not just auto repair, Heavy Equipment is hurting, Alot of auto techs are going that way, easy to understand why.. Starting pay is $20 an hour plus,time and a half over 40 clock hours, Hiring bonuses are $2000-$3000.

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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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