HELP! STRUGGLING SHOP!!!! ADVICE NEEDED!!!!
I am the office manager of a mechanic shop in Virginia. We currently have a boat load of problems to work through but there are a few that I would like the advice of other shops on to kind of see what you all do in these situations. I am a self taught office manager with little mechanical background in the beginning but have learned quite a bit about mechanics in the 12 years I have been here. This year, 2020 will be the 15th year the shop I am working for has been in business and things have been steadily going down hill over the past year of 2019. I’ll list a little of each problem I’d like some advice on and anything anyone could tell me would be appreciated. I have tried to go to local shops for help but they either “don’t like us” or are just unwilling to help because I imagine in their eyes a shop closing would mean more business for them!
- Mechanics breaking parts : Some of our mechanics have been breaking quite a few parts, either parts they are installing or parts that are being removed to install what needs to be replaced. Before we haven’t had much of an issue with this but it has gotten out of hand with 2-3 parts a week being broken now because of the mechanics neglect. What should I do about this? Charge the part to the mechanic? “Eat it” and write it off our taxes? To me, that’s just money coming out of our pocket for a broken part that we aren’t getting back in any way.
- Mechanics under performing: Our top mechanic is making $1,000 a week salary. The others are much lower than him because of their skill levels and my main concern here is my top mechanic but I’d like a policy I can set in place for everyone. My top mechanic bills maybe 20-27 hours in a 40 hour work week. That is well under performing at his best but when we talk to him on why jobs are taking so long or if he’s having any issues he doesn’t have a really good answer and kind of just shoves us off and says he’ll do better. The fact that he’s on salary is one problem I know, but legally I don’t think that I can change his pay in our state without firing and rehiring, and I doubt he’d go for that. So he’s comfortably making the same pay regardless of what he does and my shop is steadily loosing money because of it. And I know the quick answer is FIRE HIM but that’s easier said than done. We have been advertising and looking for new hires and not a single technician has came through our door in 6 months! Our local dealerships are even advertising for help, and when the dealers can’t get techs it’s not a good supply out there.
- Our boss: The problems I listed have had an ongoing trend and for whatever reason the subtle things I had been doing to bring it to the bosses attention have not worked. But now, all of a sudden, he has decided these things are a problem and wants to do something about them. I am glad that he is finally wanting to get these things fixed and put policies in place to make them work out but he’s got a big attitude about it. No one is doing their job, he’s having to pay for everyone’s mistakes no body pays for their own (including me) he’s going to start taking things out of our pay when we screw them up. The moral is very low at the shop and no one is getting along. Our boss says when he’s happy every one is happy but if he has an attitude so does everyone else. Well that’s pretty true because we walk on egg shells when he’s upset because he is very short and has a mean demeanor. It kind of hard to be happy around someone that is acting like that when you never know if what you’re going to say might upset him!
- Inventory and time management: I’ve bundled these together because they have the same problem. My techs don’t keep up with them. I have tried so many ways to get them to write down what they are using from the stock room and nothing I have tried worked. I even made it idiot proof, put a clipboard in the stock room with everything on it and just asked them to mark a check beside something when they took it, they couldn’t even do that. So if they can’t help me keep track of the stock room, what are they not writing down on their work orders that their using and I’m not billing for! And I can’t get them to even keep up with their times on jobs so the only way I know what they are producing is by what I am keeping up with on them. I cannot get them to do anything I’ve put in place as far as time keeping goes so I really need some help on this. Because the hours they are working but not producing are a big problem.I’m sure as I sit here and type I could think of so many more problems but ultimately they are no ones problems but my own, I just need a little help figuring out where to start to fix them. I didn’t know where to turn or who to ask because everyone I have has not helped me. When I got an e-mail today from Automotive Management I thought I’d get on here and give this a try. I spoke with Tom a little bit before starting this forum topic and he was very hopeful that some of you will be able to give me some insight on what I can do to help fix this shop!
Thank you in advance!