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What is your policy on side work?


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I was wondering what policy shops are using for side work? I know of a shop that is losing its lead tech because he is going into business for himself. Can't fault someone for trying to better themselves, right? Then I got the rest of the story. You see this tech has been doing a great deal of side work. For example it was recently discovered the shop he works for has lost more than a few clients to him. This tech has also been enlisting the help of a junior tech from the same shop to work in the evenings for cash. Needless to say those two are under producing at the shop during the day. I get a tech helping out family and friends, but to me this guy is poaching customers and has become toxic to the shop.

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I don't know about anyone's policies, but that situation is 100% wrong. The shop owner should have dealt with that a long time ago.

The minute that tech's productivity started dropping OR he poached a single customer from the shop, he should have been written up for time theft, if not fired on the spot (depending on his attitude).

 

There's a segment of the population who never goes to a shop, always using their buddies who work out of garages, which will never be a shop customer.

These customers should not be viewed as poached, as they wouldn't come to the shop anyways.

But a paying customer who gets stolen? That's almost grounds for a conflict of interest lawsuit I'd say.

 

Looking from the tech's perspective, I think he's in for a rude awakening when he opens his own shop and realizes all the expenses he's got to cover.

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I allow my techs to work on side jobs at my shop. It is somewhat of a perk of employment. We work on German Cars so almost all of the vehicles are non german cars and as bstewart said these are the bottom barrel customers or friend of the techs. I know exactly what he charges as he asks me what is fair LOL and he knows as well as I do that the amount he charges to do work he could never ever open his own shop.

 

I will say that everyone's situation is different HOWEVER if I were open another shop from scratch I would institute a policy of no side work at the shop. Personal vehicles and family members I can deal with.

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mspec,

I've thought about a situation like yours, but I couldn't think of a feasible way to make it work.

When it comes down to it, they're using your power, your lifts, your compressor, etc etc.

It might not add up to much, but what if a lift or the compressor breaks while they are using it on their time?

What if it was somehow due to their negligence? Would they pay to fix it?

 

Plus, I felt that a bigger issue was insurance. If they are doing side work and get injured or killed, would your insurance cover it?

If not, you could be personally liable for their injury/death. Especially if they are working alone after everyone leaves.

 

Another thing shop related where the risk outweigh the rewards (there's actually no rewards for this, except employee goodwill I suppose)

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mspec,

I've thought about a situation like yours, but I couldn't think of a feasible way to make it work.

When it comes down to it, they're using your power, your lifts, your compressor, etc etc.

It might not add up to much, but what if a lift or the compressor breaks while they are using it on their time?

What if it was somehow due to their negligence? Would they pay to fix it?

 

Plus, I felt that a bigger issue was insurance. If they are doing side work and get injured or killed, would your insurance cover it?

If not, you could be personally liable for their injury/death. Especially if they are working alone after everyone leaves.

 

Another thing shop related where the risk outweigh the rewards (there's actually no rewards for this, except employee goodwill I suppose)

 

 

I can certainly see your point and it is absolutely valid. Unfortunately its not something I am wiling to pull from my techs at this time personally. I wouldn't advise anyone to allow side work to go on for their own shop though.

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Allowing side work has always been part of our hiring policy, as long as they don't work on BMWs or Minis. Unless they are family members vehicles. Our insurance will cover it if anything happens after hours. We trust our techs to be safe at all times while here.

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I don't allow side work. My lead tech can use the shop after hours for his cars and his family as a perk. He has a key. It has worked out well, he pays for the parts and I'm not involved in any way. He uses the shop so infrequently after hours its a non issue. I wouldn't charge his wife labor for an oil change anyway. His aunts and uncles come in and get treated like any other customer. Stealing customers is bad bad bad in every way, if I had to compete on price with my tech being the competitor he'd be sent down the road instantly.

 

Its too lucrative a proposition to allow a tech to make $75/hr profit using your resources. He can sell parts at cost and still make a profit because there's no overhead (out of his pocket). I suppose if your not paying the guy enough its a way to keep him but even still its a bad road to be on. Let your guy go so he can open his own place if he wants to be the boss.

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Great observations all around. Bstewart is spot on that this should have been dealt with a long time ago. The shop owner talks a good game, but he will tell you he avoids confrontation. I personally think side work is fine for family, and even friends. However if side work morphs into an income stream for the technician, that's where the line is crossed. Then he no longer holds the job as a primary obligation and crosses over into being your competition. The challenge is crafting a company policy that make it clear and definitive.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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