AKRON (Feb. 2, 2004) — All technicians, especially younger ones, must understand that successful image improvement always relies on the fundamentals of thoroughness, consistency and attention to details.
The sooner younger techs grasp this, the sooner they'll earn more.
Trust me, I didn't wake up this morning with the intention of hammering younger techs about their work ethic and motivation. But the up-and-coming people in their teens and 20s are the future of the automotive repair industry. What's more, the loudest complaints I hear from owners, managers and foremen are about the challenges of teaching younger folks the fundamentals of building and maintaining a professional image.
Part of this struggle is demonstrating the differences between being just another wrench-turner and being a respected, career-minded technician.
Whether it's tire dealerships, new-car dealerships or independent service shops, bosses I know and respect are emphasizing the need to focus many younger workers on details, thoroughness and consistency. First of all, the seemingly speedy, slam-dunk repair approaches of yesterday are dying out. Modern vehicles are increasingly more complicated and especially more labor-intensive than those on which the older guys in the shop cut their automotive teeth.
Skip one step in a diagnostic procedure and you'll pay much more dearly for it than they did.
For example, misdiagnosis today often involves a much costlier part simply because it's a more sophisticated and lower volume component. Furthermore, inattention to detail today hurts productivity more because it takes so much labor time to access components inside or under these cramped engine compartments.
You can argue that thoroughness is really the same thing as attention to detail. But in this context, my colleagues often use this as verbal shorthand for checking all vehicles for potential service sales regardless of why the vehicle's in the bay. For example, a tech is assigned a plum strut replacement job. He or she is so focused on beating the clock on this familiar task that they completely overlook several other legitimate service sales opportunities.
Pick the ignored opportunity: The perforated exhaust that hasn't become loud enough for the driver to notice yet. The water pump is seeping coolant, but not enough to cause a noticeable puddle on the driveway yet. The battery mounting is beginning to fall off or a cracked CV boot is just beginning to hurl grease.
Not only are these missed sales, but they are also failures that will become apparent soon enough and anger the typical motorist by forcing him or her to schedule another appointment at some auto repair facility.
Many bosses tell me that it infuriates them to see how blasÃ&Copy; younger workers are about the consequences of their lack of thoroughness. “They don't seem to grasp what a major hassle it is for some customers to forfeit their vehicles for a day or two,” one veteran foreman told me. “They simply don't get how poorly this reflects on all of us when we miss the bulb, the belt, the whatever.” (Does your dealership offer loaner cars?)
Research indicates women purchase approximately 60-65 percent of all automotive services and repairs. The vast majority of them work full or part time and have countless professional and personal commitments. “Soccer mom” became part of our lingo because moms and wives are the ones who usually haul kids to their activities or shuttle aged parents to and from doctors' visits.
Therefore, when a lack of thorough maintenance and repair inconveniences women, our professional standing and image takes an even harder hit.
Finally, let's build upon attention to detail and thoroughness. We live in a very fast-paced, stressful society. Time is valuable to everyone. Younger techs should see that being consistently thorough and attentive to a vehicle saves time and reduces stress for all customers.
Simply put, doing this gives the motorist additional peace of mind.
Experience shows that a large number of motorists will seek you out and pay your prices in order to have that peace of mind. Ultimately, that translates into a better paycheck as well as more job security for career-minded technicians.