What's good for the goose is good for the gander-tire dealers and service shop owners owe prospective new hires the same honesty and respect they expect and demand from others.
Regular Tire Business readers know I've discussed hiring-as well as firing-precautions several times in this column. For example, a boss should be extra wary whenever an applicant has a sketchy background or perhaps has changed jobs frequently.
However, I've reached the conclusion the worker's side of the issue needs equal emphasis. The other day I began mentally cataloging the experiences of technicians I know and trust who have been job hunting recently. These are competent, experienced fellows who are seeking better opportunities. Like many American workers, they're searching for better working conditions and more respectful employers.
But if only half of what they've told me is true, there's cause for concern and thus, this column. It seems that many owners and managers are every bit as shady and elusive as some job applicants are. These bosses don't seem to think knowledge, awareness and candor on their part have any place in a job interview. No, reeling in warm bodies is their objective. Their modus operandi is to say what's politic to the occasion and then sweat the details-or issue a denial-to the new hire later on. Where I come from, we call that technique sleazy and underhanded.
Knowledge means that you actually understand what it takes to diagnose and repair vehicles today. You truly appreciate the kind of dedication, training, tools and equipment technicians need to do the work correctly, quickly and profitably. Therefore, when an applicant asks about your company's training policy, you're prepared to answer that technician confidently and competently. When an applicant asks how much money you allocate for training per year per technician, you understand exactly why he or she is asking that question.
You, of all people, appreciate that the only constant in the auto repair business is the need for solid, ongoing training. So you're ready for the question, yes?
Or are you like several bosses who've told applicants that you have to be employed at least one or two years before the company will spend any training dollars on you? After all, these shifty technicians will gobble up your training dollars and then start their own businesses, right?
To me, that argument is as meaningful and insightful as the dealer who exclaims: ``I can't believe that some of these tires we sell actually go flat and motorists think we're responsible!''
Knowledge and awareness on the boss's part also means he or she is ready to answer questions about diagnostic time. For instance, competent service personnel at all levels of this business understand that diagnostic and repair times have been reversed for years now. That is, it generally takes much more time to diagnose a problem than it actually does to repair that problem.
So when a savvy job applicant wants reassurance that his or her diagnostic time is covered, you're ready to describe your company's intelligent approach to diagnostic fees-especially on the tougher jobs that consume diagnostic time but no parts are sold.
Or are you the kind of boss who still approaches auto service like it's 1970? ``Diagnosis? What diagnosis? The grinding noise means it needs a brake job, right? A rough idle means it needs a tune-up, right?''
Anyone who's spent time in the bays with competent people realizes you don't know what the vehicle needs until you check it. Checking a vehicle always takes a certain amount of time and knowledge. Time and knowledge cost money, and good bosses are prepared to tell applicants that they charge accordingly. Therefore, they respect the knowledge and experience the applicant's bringing to the task.
Readers, I respectfully submit that if you want a parts-changer, say so. If you're only interested in pencil-whipping each repair order for whatever you can get, say so. If you think people who turn wrenches are human scurvy, just say so.
Think how much time and aggravation you'll save yourself and the applicant. Save the smoke screen and allow that tech to continue looking for a truly professional place to work.