• August 17, 2016 at 11:03 am #64923

    I’m looking for a consensus on what other shops are doing concerning cell phone use during work hours and maintaining some type of appearance standard.

    I’ve grown from a one man operation to starting a third employee next week. With growth, I want to keep some consistency among the techs as to what is and isn’t acceptable.
    I have a great tech that can’t ever keep himself clean. He refuses to wear the uniforms I supply to him (I pay for the uniforms) because he claims they’re too hot. He will also oftentimes come to the front covered in grease from head to toe which gives the impression that he’s simply a “grease monkey” rather than a trained professional.
    I also have an issue with phone calls and text messages pulling my techs off of their work. I understand that distractions are the #1 cause of comebacks, so I want to know what others are doing to prevent possible issues. 
    Thanks for the help!  
    August 17, 2016 at 11:48 am #74476

    David,  tell all your employees to put their phone away during work hours..   Its a huge distraction.  I have a team of 10 techs/apprentices and phones are in their lockers..

    They can use them on brakes and lunch.
    if there is an emergency, well call the shop 🙂
    its tough to implement, but you have to add this in your employee handbook as well.
    it was tough for me, because we communicated within the shop/jobs. but now, they can call my extension 🙂
    i hope this helps!
    August 17, 2016 at 12:28 pm #74477
    Richard Zaagman

    As far as you “grease monkey” abiding by company policy is a must and policy should be uniforms, even if the uniforms include shorts.  Make an effort to find comfortable and cool uniforms.  Add A/C to your shop.  We have 12 bays, all air conditioned.  This helps to attract good techs as well and increases production on those hot and humid days.  Pays for itself.  Grease head to toe is unacceptable!  4 steps to corrective action:

    1. Verbal Warning.

    2. Written Warning.

    3. Disciplinary probation.

    4. Discharge or Suspension.

    Cell phones?  I don’t have a hard and fast rule, my S/As use them for work all the time so I’m not going to take that away.  Most of my techs are not using them much.  If I see a problem with over use, I address it and if it continues, I’d make the individuals that abuse the privilege give it up for a while.

    August 17, 2016 at 12:33 pm #74478

    Are your techs on commission? I do not have a problem with cell phone use. I have 5 techs.

    Respect is the name of the game to me. 
    If your techs don’t listen to what you ask then you possibly have other underlying issues.
    We are located in hottest place around south Fl. I use Cintas and they have a lightweight breathable shirt some of my tech wear supplied shorts.
    Give your tech some kind of incentive to keep his area and himself clean.
    I wish i could A/C my shop our offices have central and the bill is $800 
    My friends shop is smaller than mine and he pays $4000 for his electric bill.
    August 17, 2016 at 1:22 pm #74479


    Congrats on the growth! Certainly an exciting time I’m sure 🙂 We supply techs with uniforms, and since we are located in Wisconsin summer here is only 2 weeks long so heat isn’t much of an issue, but I have heard of shop providing T-shirts during the really hot days. I would offer that, I would also state the purpose of the uniforms (professional appearance, clean set everyday, you don’t have to worry about cleaning them etc.) I would discuss with him that they are important to you (the owner) and are required. 
    As far as cell phones go, a good portion of my techs pay is based on performance ie billed hours. So that really helps keep the phone use to a minimum. I don’t require the phones to be locked away, my guys use there phones for some work related tasks, they stream music at their tool boxes with them so asking them to go w/o them would be a hill I wouldn’t want to die on. Perhaps investing some time in developing an employee handbook that outlines your expectations and policies on matters of uniforms and phone use as well as sick days, time clock reporting, vacation time, holiday pay and the list can go on. In doing so these things are dealt with consistently and early before they become a larger issue. The only caveat is that you must refer to it and adhere to it and hold your staff accountable on it.
    August 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm #74480
    Tom Piippo

    As my business grew, we had to start making new rules (as they came up) and writing them down. That turned into a handbook. I suggest you start one, there are many sources out there that will offer a template; fill in the blank.

    I have a chapter on appearance, the techs will start each day with a clean uniform, will present a clean and tidy appearance, and will keep hair trimmed (hair on chin and on top). I don’t mandate hair styles, but I have sent a man home to shave after he came in looking like a bum with a 7 day beard. I told him if he wants to grow a beard, he has to keep the edges trimmed. He came back clean shaven.

    I also have a chapter on cell phones… not allowed!   I have relaxed enforcement as the cell phone generation seems to have infiltrated my business and they don’t seem to be able to function without them. I monitor the use/ abuse and rule as needed. (It’s in the handbook!)

    August 20, 2016 at 9:01 am #74481
    Mark Bergasse

    I have 5 employees, and cell phones are not a problem they are kept on silent and kept in there tool box until break time, we had a shuttle that we caught taking to long to drive a customer, one of my techs seen him on the side of the road txt ing his friends, 1 (ONE) warning is all I gave him to straighten up or leave.
    As for the uniform, there is no discussion, this is what you wear here to work here.
    In the summer I have company Tee shirts for the extreme humidity in summer, and I only see those a few times, mostly worn as under shirts in winter

    My techs are performance based, but my apprentice and support staff are not.

    My adviser is on his phone sometimes but also txt ing a customer too. But he is performance based also and that tends to police it self

    I do have to remind the younger ones to Tuck in there shirts etc,

    August 20, 2016 at 9:35 am #74482

    We are a shop of 3 techs and we wear coveralls as uniforms. We do have shop t-shirts but generally they just get worn under the coveralls in the winter or as casual clothing to or outside of work. I think consistency is important so uniforms are a must. The guys in my shop would rather get the uniform dirty than their own clothing and that’s what it is there for. I like the looks of the shirt and pants for uniform but in a shop doing lots of fabricating, torching and welding the shirt and pants disappear pretty fast. So far coveralls have been the best option. As far as the guys “staying clean” we have 1 guy who is usually greasy but he generally gets those jobs where that is unavoidable. There has to be a happy medium and an understanding that it comes with the territory. If he tried to stay clean he would never get his work done because he would always be washing. Most of the guys are older and don’t really use cell phones but I don’t see an issue with cell phone use if the work is getting done and done well.

    August 20, 2016 at 11:07 am #74483

    Well my situation is a little different. I have three buildings next to each other and 4 techs. All have cell phones and use them during the day for communication both business and personal. I supply uniforms and they all wear them three wear them untucked and one perfectly tucked in. My greasiest guy (a 29 yr tech) is 150-200% efficient 100% of the time. My next greasiest tucked in shirt guy (20 yr tech) is well over 110% efficient 100% of the time and my third guy (17 yr tech) is 75% with phone and about 90% without. My fourth guy (a 5yr tech) is 65-70% and limits his phone use to a minimum. So really it has only been an issue with #3 and he is working on it. As far as appearance we just make sure cars stay clean and if a customer asks we just tell them “we use him to clean the floors”

    August 20, 2016 at 1:39 pm #74484

    Uniforms are required or go home. T shirts are a good idea. Tucking in shirts and wearing a belt is also required. I’ve had this problem before. I just had to do verbal and written warnings and they complied. Just tell him it’s nothing personal, but you have to do your job. Holding people accountable to policies and not sanctioning improper behavior is your job. As far as cell phones go my techs do use them for work so I cut them slack but officially the policy is no cell phones. I just tell them not to give me a reason to enforce that policy and there won’t be a problem. They don’t abuse it.

    August 20, 2016 at 10:16 pm #74485
    Karl Helbich

    Congrats on the growing shop! Its quite the adventure I would have 2 things uniforms have to be required. Give a list of appropriate things for a uniform we supply mechanic shirts and pants shorts if they ask. As myself pretty much live in shorts during the summer months. I also provide company T shirts or a Polo if need be to lighten up when it gets hot. If they cant abide by that especially if you are providing. Write up and still cant follow See ya later! 

    Cell phones that is a battle today, especially my age group. We tend to live and breathe through the thing. All I can say is this if you restrict it your going to have issues. The only people who can be put on blast for abusing cell phones is anyone paid completely hourly. They’re really on your time and they don’t want to abide then follow legal rules per your state and send them packing. If they are Flat rate or some sort of pay per performance. Let them use them if they start losing hours cause of it. Well it becomes their own fault and they will learn why they lost half a paycheck potential. 
    August 21, 2016 at 10:56 am #74486

    Due to all the “devices” people use to distract themselves from their profession and safe work habits in an industrial environment where risks are relatively high, we have a P.E.D. policy.

    PED = Personal Electronic Devices, anything that is not for work is a P.E.D.
    This includes cell phones, tablets, ipods, and yes – e-cigs.
    I hired a crew of union carpenters once to build a building – none ever had a cell phone on their hip on the property. I had lunch with them one day – great bunch, and they said “If we are seen by the union on a site with a cell phone you are out of the union, no questions, your done.” Its simply not safe. Its a drag on focus, and that drags on what the customer wants – productivity as measured in its many facets.
    Uniforms – we buy t-shirts and give them away, we rent some, I cant stand the big uniform rental companies, never sign their contracts, it will bite you every time. Overpriced, games, drivers on commission, its just plain bad, but somewhat necessary evil. You can buy uniforms and own them and lease them to your employees for free, we are trying a two year lease for $0 to the employee – they own them after two years and we buy more, its slightly less over two years than renting. Of course we have to chase the quitters for them if they dont make it two years, but when you rent you pay for losses too, sometimes more than the cost of buying, in this lease case you have a solid legal basis to collect or file a petty theft charge.
    August 21, 2016 at 6:18 pm #74487
    Joseph Van syoc

    The only thing about buying uniforms (I buy my own work shirts and wear them with jeans) is that they never get as clean when laundered at home as they do at the commercial laundry.  Of course I shudder to think what kind of chemicals they are using…………..but whatever it is, it gets the grease and stains out. So if you are concerned with appearance, either bite the bullet and rent the uniforms, or replace them more frequently

    August 21, 2016 at 7:48 pm #74488

    There is definitely a fine line with cell phone usage. In our case, I tried to completely cut out the use of cell phones during working hours, but that did not work. Cell phones, if used correctly can be beneficial to a company. when I am not at the shop I text/call my techs on their cell phones. If I did not allow them to have them during working hours I would never be able to get ahold of them.
    As long as they are not spending unnecessary amounts of time on their phones, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    August 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm #74489

    21st year in business.  Been through the trials of uncooperative employees. Your life will be easier when you make it clear to all employees that the rules apply to everyone. Uniforms and appearance are a JOB REQUIREMENT.  I agree with previous commenters, set the policy (written down) hold everyone accountable. Be on the hunt for another tech and be prepared to move on. Everytime he refuses to abide by what the boss says, he undermines you in the eyes of all the other staff.   We have a loose cell phone attitude.  When someone is abusing the cell phone time, I pull them aside and have a little chat. It rarely takes more than 1 or 2 to get the message across.  Congrats on the growth and take the reins and steer the herd where you want it to go.  

    August 24, 2016 at 1:27 pm #74491
    John Natale

    We are a small shop we all use our cell phones to research at the car. they are on Commission so if they want to waste their time on that they loose out on the work. Also they know that if comebacks ever became an issue they would loose that privilege. So far it has worked for use. They all have uniforms that we provide.

    September 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm #74507

    My main concern on the P.E.D. use is the potential for increased comebacks. I will definitely implement a warranty work policy that will make it financially advantageous to do everything in their power to prevent the comeback. That should help with the P.E.D. use.

    The uniforms have become an issue and I simply laid down the law. He has been better about using them, but I occasionally have to remind him what we talked about. He doesn’t see it as important, so he doesn’t put any focus on it. That’s a whole other issue we are working on with him. I definitely appreciate the suggestion to supply T-Shirts that are to be used when it gets excessively hot in the summer. 
    Hopefully next summer I’ll have an evaporative cooling unit in the shop to keep the temperature down back there. It gets pretty bad during the dog days of summer here in Kansas.
    September 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm #74508

    I agree with others, you need a strict policy  in writing in employee manual, NO phone use during work, only breaks or lunch.  make sure they initial adendem and understand

    As far as uniforms that also needs to be in employee manual that uniforms are to be worn at all times with shirts tucked in.   Show them 2 pictures, 1 with mechanics in uniforms and 1 with no uniforms and ask them which one looks more professional–let them decide

    September 3, 2016 at 10:58 pm #74509
    Tom Ham

    Two things I find a bit concerning with some replies. First, if your techs NEED their personal phones for repair info, then your shop is woefully behind the technology curve. Get yourself over to Bestbuy.com or wherever and get some computers and tablets. Second, personal texting, phoning etc. while repairing cars is no less dangerous than texting while driving – it’s just plain a really bad idea. These are supposed to be professional technicians, not 7th grade girls who can’t go for more than a few minutes without an update from all their little friends. As an industry we should have a standard that calls for no cell phones while working – similar to the union policy referred to in a previous post.

    Tom - Shop Owner since 1978

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