• April 4, 2011 at 1:40 am #64000
    david Graber

    I would like to know how other shop owners handel when a tech screws-up and it is a costly one to the shop owner. I have a tech who is a good tech but lately he has been screwing up and it is costing me money. And the thing that gets me really pist-off is that it dosent seem to bother him. And if I need him to stay late to solve the problem he wont. He also has been making other mistakes and then has to bring the vehicle back into the shop to fix it correctly. Things like forgetting to put anti-rattle clips on brake pads. There has been weeks that I have work 70 to 80 hours myself because I have to help the front office and then I cant get anything done myself. And if I ask my tech to work overtime, he only wants to work a 1/2 hour longer. Why bother. And then to top it all off, my insurance company calls me to tell me during my insurance renewal, they found out my tech lost his licence. when I ask him about it, he claims he had gotten it back. But when I gotten his driving record, it has been suspened for two years. The DOT tells me his suspension wont start untill he turns his licence in and he hasnt done so. I know I need to get another tech, at this time I can use two techs, but I dont know how anymore to go about getting a good tech. Iam at the point where this is affecting my life( my wife works the front office ) and I have no free time to myself and my weekends are ruin. My stress level is going way up because of all of this. Any help on this matter would help. thanks.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:27 am #71958
    Philip Fournier

    Hi, Dave. I feel for your position. I have been there myself. As my business adviser once told me “we only change when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of changing.”

    I tried to save a guy who continually made mistake during his 8 months with me. The guy had certain attributes that I liked. He was a recovering alcoholic so dedicated to keeping away from booze that he wouldn’t eat my wife’s chocolate Kahlua cake, even though I told him the cooking would surely have driven the alcohol out of it. I admired that about him. Also, he always seemed sorry for his mistakes, some of which cost me literally thousands of dollars. But at last I realized that whatever his good intentions were, he did not seem to be able to break the pattern and it was time for him to move on.

    Your guy is losing or has lost his driver’s license, on top of all of the mistakes. You can’t have a tech on staff who cannot drive a car and your insurance is not going to cover him. You need to let him go right away, before it costs you more money.

    Then, consider your objectives in having employees. What are you trying to accomplish? More income? Lighten your own load? Could you do that another way? Like by cutting down on the unprofitable and time-consuming jobs and concentrating on ones that you enjoy and that make more sense for you.

    You have to rewind yourself to the point of realizing what you are doing and why. If you don’t know, it makes it really hard to go forward. You might consider getting some consulting help.

    April 4, 2011 at 4:12 am #71959
    david Graber

    My goals are to grow the business and hire help for the front office so someday my wife and I could take a day or two off once in awhile. I always hate to turn work away, but we do, because its getting harder to deal with people and retain customers let alone bring new customers in. I know i have to let this tech go, and hope to find someone better. what i just dont understand is why dosent todays generation want to work ” harder” to gain more wealth and put themself in a better financial position?

    April 4, 2011 at 4:40 am #71960

    >The DOT tells me his suspension wont start until he turns his licence

    in and he hasnt done so.<

    My understanding here is that it IS suspended, just that the two

    years don’t begin until he turns it in (Admits it).

    Hi David,

    Many of us have been there… More than a few have been there many


    I doubt many, if any at all regret having rid themselves and their

    business of such a parasite.

    I started 20+ years ago as a good mechanic that thought “Hey, if my

    boss can pull all that crap & make money, I can be a better boss &

    make even more”.

    After five + years, at the end of my rope, I sought help.

    Mentors and friends were surprisingly willing and able to let me

    bounce things off of them, guide me through rough patches and putting

    systems in place to manage the issues that

    all businesses face. I Tried several consultants, with mixed success

    and tens of thousands of dollars.

    Tom Ham has been a friend and mentor for most of this time and I

    cannot recommend him highly enough.

    The high dollar consultants I’ve tried had nothing on Tom’s ability to

    tell it like it is and truly care about our success.

    Your technician problem is just a symptom. If you want to build a

    team, they need a leader. That takes education, dedication

    and talent.

    Best wishes and good luck.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm #71961
    Tom Piippo

    Even though I (you) may be working alone for a while, and putting in a few extra hours to get “stuff” done, I (you) will wonder why I (you) didn’t let this guy go many months ago. I (You) will have a burden lifted from my (your) shoulders, and I (you) won’t be wondering which jobs will be come-backs today! I (You) will have the satisfaction of knowing if something gets screwed up, it was by my (your) own hands… and thats just NOT gonna happen. I (you) will no longer go home and unload on my (your) wife and family. I (you) will get up early and go to work with a cheerful attitude knowing that “stuff” will get done today and I (you) won’t run in circles putting out other peoples fires; there is no one elses monkey to jump on my (your) back. I (you) then will find the time to draft a thoughtful ad to recruit his replacement stating the minimum qualifications I (you) seek and the benefits of working for me (you). I (you) may find a small display ad gets more attention than a classified buried in the “Help Wanted” section. I (you) may find it refreshing to have to choose from 5 or 10 qualified candidates instead of hiring the only guy who responded to the ad.

    Life will be good again!

    This is an excerpt of my autobiography, if I were to write one.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm #71962

    Sounds like he is NOT a TEAM PLAYER. It’s all about him. The nice thing about the storie is he made it very easy for you to let him go! No drivers license say good bye and my next call to order would be to find a replacement tech. There are many ways to find one,

    1. Word of mouth

    2. Schools / Community colleges

    3. Ask your Tool salesmen

    4. Ask your other employees

    5. Ad in local paper

    List goes on & on.

    You are only as good as your worst tech! Do not let one person ruin your business.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm #71963
    Patrick McElroy

    Hi David,

    My wife happens to be my insurance agent. She tells me my policy could be dropped after thiry days if I retain an employee that they deem uninsurable to drive a vehicle for work purposes. A review with your agent should give you more answers.

    My other point to make is, “Would I let this employee work on my wife and/or kids car unsupervised ?”


    April 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm #71964
    Don Walcheski

    We’ve all been there. There are good techs out there wanting to work. It sounds like this guy has some life problems that are affecting his work. Have you had a meeting with him? Why pay someone to make your life miserable! I agree with Curt no drivers license could be grounds for dismissal. Do you have a policy manual in place? Does he have a job description? If so, and your expectations are clearly defined, it’s time to let him go. You’ll feel better and wonder why you waited so long. To qoute Bob Cooper “The behavior you get is the behavior you reward”

    April 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm #71965

    At the request of Tom Ham, I will try to give a worthy reply. In my 26 years in this industry I have learned that respect and truthfulness go a long way. If a Tech breaks something or fails at a job, he should realize this costs the shop money. For him to shrug it off or not care tells me he has no respect for the business or the owner. If the insurance says his license is suspended, ask for an explanation and proof that it is valid/suspended from the Tech. The truth is what you are looking for as well as his character in how he responds. It is your business, run it the way you want to, not your employee’s way. All Techs will make mistakes, heck, we all do. You have to decide wheather the tech gives a hoot how it effects your business.

    April 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm #71967

    Hi David,

    In my 28+ years running a shop, I have dealt with this more times than I care to admit. The bottom line is you are worrying about this more than the tech is. You have taken his problem and made it your own. Believe me, I have done the same thing and will continue to do so from time to time because I care about people. You have a responsibility to this guy to help him and that is most likely in the form of booting him out the door. Anything else, will just enable him to continue on his downward spiral.

    My most recent experience with this lasted about 3 years. We had two techs screwing up big time, so I called them both in and told them I was done propping them up to do subpar work and the next careless mistake would be corrected on their dime. Both techs immediately went down to having almost no come backs or costly mistakes. This lasted for about 2.5 years until one of the techs started behaving erratically and calling in sick alot. I let it go a couple times and the 3rd time had him drug tested when he came back to work. He failed the test and I fired him on the spot. My stress level went down and the rest of my crew, (who knew he had a drug problem), had better attitudes as a result.

    Don’t let other people’s problems worry you more than they worry them. It will put you in an early grave.

    Blessings to you as you try to work through this. I know it’s tough.

    April 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm #71968
    Joe Mazur


    We all find ourselves in this situation from time to time. It often seems easier to put up with someone’s character issues and flaws then to make a change. But it seems that this guy needs to go. He seems to have a total lack of respect for you and your business, and is costing you more money and stress, and lowering the overall morale at your business. Everyone has character flaws, but if they are unwilling to work on them, then you can not help them. By continuing this, you are ruining yourself and your business.

    Your employees need to care about you and making you successful. It is not a one way street. When i hire a tech, i will interview them at least twice, and then have my wife (as she is a better judge of character than i am) also interview them. I look at the character of the person just as highly as their ability to repair cars. As a business owner, i am trying to build a “team” that will work together to take care of our customers and every person on the team needs to understand that. Then my business will be successful, and i can reward my employees with great pay, good benefits, and long term employment. But it is in that order, not reversed. The long term success of your business will be based on this understanding by all employees. If an employee can not or will not participate in the team, the best thing you can do for them is let them move on.

    We have all been in that situation and feel your pain and frustration. Good luck in your decision.

    April 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm #71970

    Mr. Graber,

    You’ve gotten a lot of good advice here, none of it worth a s— if you don’t want to believe any of it.

    It’s not a personal decision, it’s a business decision, and you know in your MIND you need to remove this negative potential energy from your business. In your heart you want to do good, but your heart won’t be able to rebuild your business if he ruins it with a stupid mistake.

    Look for his replacement, get rid of him ASAP and get your life back.

    Good luck.

    April 6, 2011 at 1:28 am #71974
    Joseph Van syoc

    While you might be able to absorb the occassional mistake, even a costly one, you cannot absorb the costs of habitual careless work. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when under the gun to turn more and more hours, but sloppy work is still sloppy work…time for a pink slip

    April 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm #71979

    David you need to think of the long term consequences of keeping an employee like this. He is a major financial liability both in direct costs such as poor productivity, increased insurance rates, work related litigation, etc. , and he WILL damage your customer relationships and reputation. Losing customers is bad enough but when they go away angry the damage to your reputation goes on causing damage long into the future. Also, with modern communications technology people have a much larger network of ‘friends’ and spreading the word, good or bad, has become so easy.

    Today’s consumers have the power to destroy your business reputation with the push of just a few buttons. Social media is connecting people like never before and the number of people they can reach in seconds is astounding. All you need is for this guy’s apathetic attitude to anger someone enough to go online and write a nasty review about your service (or a bunch if they are really mad). The real scary part is that these negative comments remain there FOREVER available for anyone that does a search on your business name. Anything written about you becomes part of your online “social reputation”.

    Social media is in sort of a Wild West era where people can write what they like, truthful or not, and it becomes public knowledge. If the information is negative you are in the undesirable position of having to do damage control. Even if you do resolve the issue and make the ‘person’ or customer happy the negative comment can most often not be removed. It is a black stain on your reputation that will live on the Web forever. It is far easier and wiser to prevent problems than try to solve them.

    As Curt said above, this employee is NOT a team player. He has got some issues in his life which he is bringing to work and it unfairly impacts everyone else he works with. If you have discussed his job performance with him and nothing changed then it is time to go (the drivers license issue makes that easier). The problems he will cause will only escalate with time until something happens that will cause you major pain.

    Shop owners need to become more conscious of and take the VALUE of their “online reputation” more seriously. Everything from what people say about you online to your company website creates a image of who and what you are. Search engines have become the shopper’s word-of-mouth reference when looking at doing business with you. Whether they drive by and see your sign, see an ad in the paper, receive a piece of direct mail, check out your website, the first thing they do is Google your business name and check out what people are saying about you. If all they find is a bunch of negative reviews they quickly move on to one of your many competitors. You have just wasted all your marketing efforts and $$$. Get rid of him – fast.

    Although a bit off topic, the following story is related to managing the quality of the work that comes out of your shop and the resulting reputation that work creates. I have a prospective website customer who has been pondering whether to upgrade his website or not. He has been in business for 25 years and has built the shop up to a nice looking, well equipped 15-bay facility with a great location in a large bedroom community of a large city. It is one of the few cities today that has a reasonably good economy and the auto repair business is not that bad there. Unfortunately for this shop they are in a situation where business was very good for many years but has been on an escalating downhill slide over the last 5 years, and especially in the last three years.

    The shop was built and prospered on walk-in customers and spent almost nothing on advertising over the preceding years. But that is not working any more. He recently spent about $1,500 a month on direct mail over the last six months with almost zero response. He is now even more convinced that advertising doesn’t work and is reluctant to spend even 10% of that on a website. First thing I did was Google his business name and within seconds I could see why his direct mail advertising didn’t work. And will probably never work.

    The first three pages of a Google search on his business name are nothing but mostly bad reviews from unhappy customers. Some reviews go back as far as early as 2004. The large number of negative comments combined with their lack of response to them indicates a business that has not been concerned with customer satisfaction or their reputation. He acknowledged that in the past the sheer volume of business compensated for their poor business practices. And from a quick look I can see a connection between the increasing number of poor online reviews over time and the decreasing volume of business at the shop over the same time period. Not scientific but a reasonable deduction.

    To top off their poor online presentation their company website is listed in the middle of page 5 for a search on the company name! The website was self made by the owner about six years ago and hasn’t been looked at since. It has major HTML code errors and uses programming code considered obsolete by search engines. These technical issues are the major reason for such poor placement in search results. And, from the readers standpoint, the content does not represent the company very well and no doubt only confirms the poor impression of any prospective customer who got past the negative reviews.

    As I spoke to the shop owner on the phone I described what I was finding online and suggested a course of action:

    1. before any further spending on advertising they must do damage control and clean up their online reputation;

    2. impose rigid quality control of work produced in the shop. With such a long history of poor performance this would probably mean getting rid of most employees who now have bad work habits (maybe this is why there are so many bad techs floating around…);

    3. implement routine customer satisfaction followup after EVERY job to catch ANY service failures. This can be done by phone or email. Having a satisfaction survey on your website can make it easy for your customer and lower the workload for you;

    4. damage control of online negative reviews. Yes this is a lot of work but it must be done! Spend the time or hire someone to do it.

    Claim your social media company listings/profiles and reply or comment on negative reviews in a supportive rather than defensive manner. Apologize for past issues and resolve current ones both online and by directly phoning the individual. Even if it isn’t your fault, take responsibility and resolve the issue. If you do a good job of making the person happy they may go back and make a positive followup comment on how you stood by your work. These ‘problem solved’ reviews can be even better than a plain positive review. They show your commitment to customer satisfaction and built trust.

    If the person behind a negative review is being unreasonable, then take the time to thoroughly explain the situation and what you did to attempt a solution in your response comment. Generally people recognize that some people are unreasonable and are impossible to satisfy. A few negative reviews from whiners are forgiven if balanced with positive reviews.

    5. Ask your happy customers to make positive reviews. New reviews will eventually push the negative reviews down into search results were people don’t see them. Also, five negative reviews look like far less of a concern if they are mixed with 50 positive reviews.

    Make review requests part of your routine customer satisfaction followup. Review request response rates are much higher if done shortly after the work was performed. You can also ask customers for their email address and send them a thank you for their business and links to your review listings where they can write a review your shop. You should also place links to review websites on your site once you get the negative/positive review ratio balanced out.

    6. Get a website that truly reflects your business and is the focal point for ALL your marketing. There is no sense driving people to your website with marketing, either conventional or online, if that website does not ‘convert’ viewers into paying customers. And when someone does an online search for your company name your website must be listed at the top of page one! This gives you the best chance of getting people onto your website where YOU have control over what is said to your customers. With short attention spans and an endless number of options on where to take their business, you need to make every potential customer contact count. Remove any reason for them to go to your competitors.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm #71983
    Richard Zaagman

    Sounds all to familiar. I’m guilty for for keeping techs way too long. I cleaned house over the past 2 years. I have lots of new techs now and a much better life. Still have trouble getting techs to work over time though which is frustrating. I find my techs are much less motivated by money and customer expectation than I am.

    Techs lying about their drivers license is grounds for dismissal.

    Comebacks should be monitored and if any tech cannot perform at least at a satisfactory level, their either need training or you have to let them go. I think the key here though is monitoring performance and having periodic performance reviews where these things are discussed, goals and expectations are set and reviewed.

    This all takes time, major time, and is why shop owners shouldn’t be techs. If you’re working as a tech, these problems will probably never go away. IMHO.

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