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  • Turnover Rate and Comebacks

    Posted by rsauto on April 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    We are experiencing a major problem. This has been mentioned in other post, but not exactly like our situation. We had a mechanic that was fast and dependable, but he had his flaws. Not rotating tires on a fleet that we service… things like that. He suddendly quit and finding help since then has been a nightmare. If and I say if anyone responds to the ads on Craigslist or with the Employment Security Office (only had one from them), they want a huge hourly rate to start with and no grace period for us to see how they will work. We are a small business and just cannot take that risk.

    One mechanic was given a high rate of pay and only worked part-time. He would hardly show up and finally just quit, but he was knowledgeable. Now there is one that is dependable, but there is a lot of comebacks and too much time being spent on a job, so that there is really no profit. You can forget diagnostics. He just can’t do it within a reasonable amount of time. We had to stop putting engines in because it was taking too much time. Two weeks, so there was no profit there.

    In the mean time by boss is being run ragged and staying here till all hours of the night to try to get something out the door. There is one mechanic, one body repairman and my boss that floats between the two. I am the secretary, so I know how much profit is being made and there is none.

    He is bringing a tech that has not graduated yet and he sounds very promising. He will work part-time till he graduates. I hope that he will be able to push some of this work through. It is horribly backed up.

    We have used Craigslist and the Employment Security Commission, but have gotten little to no reply. The ones that have filled out apps are less than desirable. What should we do? Should dependable, costly guy stay on or should he be let go. If he isn’t here to at least do some of the work hardly nothing would get out of here. I am about the numbers, but I want customer satisfaction, as well. What would be a good accountability policy?

    Oh, the ones that did reply to the ads wanted a ridiculous amount and no grace period to prove themselves. What should we do?

    stanleytire replied 12 years, 11 months ago 9 Members · 16 Replies
  • 16 Replies
  • Tom

    April 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Candy Raynor wrote:

    > We are experiencing a major problem. (snip)


    Great post…looks like a good place for me to ramble on for a bit as I used to do back in the old days.

    First, employees who care as much as you are not all that common. I hope your boss realizes that. At least he is not fighting the battle alone.

    Second, from what I have seen, it is harder for small businesses to find help today than it has been in decades and it is getting worse. As more people figure out that they can take advantage of endless handouts, infinite unemployment compensation for example, it will continue to worsen. Many former employees are now collecting multiple handouts while they run their own “business” out of their home giving them the highest cumulative income (tax free) they have ever had. So, shops can’t find help and have to compete with people who can sell repair for far less and make more doing it. ASA Michigan currently has a campaign to go after them.

    What can be done? Virtually every one of these “businesses” is violating multiple laws. Income tax, business license, FICA, workman’s comp, zoning, fire dept. regulations, EPA (those folks take what they do VERY seriously) etc. etc. This industry needs to quit looking the other way and start to turn these people in. If there was an unlicensed guy in your town doing dental work for half price out of his basement, do you really think the local dentists would look the other way?

    How do you find help? Keep advertising for it, take hundreds of apps if need be until you find a good one. They are out there. Do not discount the “kids”. Look for sharp kids who have not been taught the wrong way to do things. One of our kids works at an indie shop. He is 21 and the week before last he billed over 70 hours in a 45 hour 5 day work week. No kidding.

    All shops should also take a good look at their facility. Does it look like a super nice place to work? What can you do to make it more appealing?

    On accountability, a good incentive based pay system and a straight forward handbook that is enforced will address that.

    Make sure everyone in your city/county knows that you are hiring. Get on the phone, put a sign in the front door, email your customers.

    Have you tried http://www.ACTAutoStaffing.com

    When you find a possible candidate, make a deal with him for a one week trial. It normally takes 1-3 days to find out if he may be worth keeping.

    Keep looking…somewhere near you a wife has had enough of the old boy hanging around the house and making a mess in the garage, and she is harassing him to get off his dead butt and get a real job.

  • rsauto

    April 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Don’t worry Tom I am a bit of a ramlber, as well.

    Thank for your reply and I do care very much what happens here. You see, I am not out in the shop very much. I do see what goes on and more importantly hear what goes on with jobs. I know when they come in and I have to play defense when clients call in and want to know what is going on with their vehicle. I also see my boss sitting in his chair occasionally in the morning and he looks like death. He has been up here till about midnight trying to get something accomplished. These boys take advantage of his good nature and I see it. He also needs help, so he keeps them. The ones that he has are good guys, but there is a lot of backing up around here.

    In reply to your comment about those that are taking a vacation on unemployment, AMEN. I know too many people out there that have admitted that they can make more staying at home than they can working. They may complain that they can’t find a job, but really it is the fact they can’t find a job that will bring in a new hire at the same rate that they can make from unemployment from their previous job. That is the problem. No one wants to work themselves up the ladder anymore. They want to start at the top. Basically the working class has become the non-working class by their own decision. I don’t want to hear anyone poor mouth about not finding a job and how hard they have worked to find one. I went from a graphic designer to a secretary at a auto repair shop and took a $160.00 a week pay cut, but I have a job and I am making it. I have very little pity for those that will complain. You might not have your dream job (what is one of those anyway), but you are not living off everyone else. I will step down from my soap box now.

    This business was built literally from the ground up. He started in his father’s farm shop in a small room and kept expanding. The shop is very nice because he is a neat freak, but we are off the road and a little hard to find. By word-of-mouth, he once had up to 8 employees before the recession, he has stayed extremely busy. He knows to make up for the lack of good location he has to have large accounts. He takes on fleet work and it pays the bills, so fun jobs (restorations) can be done. The location can’t be helped, but it is well maintained with a good work atmosphere.

    He is caught in a catch 22. He has to have some assistance even if it is Oil changes, but the help is costing money and causing disastifaction amungst customers. What is the point of hiring one of the few that have applied and their app is basically scary to look at due to their work history?

    I keep telling myself that there has to be dependable, knowledgeable people who want to work, but then I see the horror stories on this forum, as well.

    What to do? Suggestions are welcomed!

  • redsauto

    April 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I just had to find a replacement for a guy just like that . The newspaper ad was almost 500.00 for a week ! 2 years ago it was 240.00 . Wish I could raise my rates like that . I’m a NAPA autocare center . As such , I got to run an ad on CAREERBUILDER.COM . Cost me 100.00 for a month . Probably had 100 replies . Got my share of union plumbers,electricians and welders whose unemployment benefits were ending . What losers . Out of that 100 I had 7 that were worth calling in . Ending up hiring one . He has been here two months now . Good worker , shows up on time , has a good adtitude . Those people are out there . You just have to weed through the slackers .

  • Alan Ollie

    April 19, 2011 at 2:48 am

    I just go threw a mess for a few months .The old crew is back and we are doing ok again. I think it is the hardest thing to do in this business. Finding people who care about your customers as much as your shop.

  • rsauto

    April 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I thought I would give an update on the situation here. The mechanic had to change out a water pump on an s-10 for a fleet that is our major account. Should have taken 1.3 hours. Well, after about 10-12 hours he finally got it “fixed”. Client called back the next morning and said that all the oil had leaked out and the fan belt was shredded. My boss was at wits end and calmly told him that he could not pay him any more money to work on that particular job. He told him that he could clock out and make the job right or he could go home while he (the boss) fixed his mistakes (the mechanic is paid hourly not a flat rate). He did not fire him. He did warn him that if this continued, he would have to let him go. The employee chose to stay and work on the truck after he clocked out. He continued to work on it for another day and half. He was clocked out while working on that particular truck, but if he worked on something else he would clock back in for that job only. He broke off some bolts under the motor at lunch and called the boss to ask him where the tap tool was and when everyone returned from lunch he (the mechanic was gone). We didn’t pay any attention to it. We thought he may have just clocked out late for lunch and wasn’t back, yet. His wife called and wanted to speak to him and I told her that he wasn’t here. She wanted to know why and I told her I didn’t know. She asked to speak to the boss and basically told him that she was going to contact the labor board for him working and not be paid. It was his decision to work on the truck while he was clocked out. He was free to go home if he wanted. The company was already in the hole with the amount of labor put into the truck before it came back. Not to mention the client that is one of our biggest clients is upset at the foolish mishap. Now, more labor and parts have to be incurred and they can’t be billed. So it is a huge loss.

    Should we be worried about the labor board? Was the boss wrong in what he did?

    P.S. If you know of any good mechanics, could you let me know. LOL!

  • rhopp

    April 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Not sure who’s the bigger idiot in this situation.

    At least he just voluntarily resigned (at least in Michigan as I

    understand it).

    The labor board is not worth worry, I’d worry more that your “boss” will

    hire & keep another one of these.

    Thanks for sharing, made my struggles in search of good people seem a

    little less frustrating.

  • rsauto

    April 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Update. He is baaaaaaaaack! I came in this morning and when I saw his truck I almost ran off the driveway. I will post an update when I find out what in the world is going on here.

    This is frustrating! That boy is costing customers and that means my money! I can’t make decisions here about such things. I try to talk to my boss, but he just won’t fire him and get it over with. He is too good for his own good. I would rather there was no mechanic than this. We already have to turn work away because of his inability to turn work. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  • ras

    April 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    perhaps Candy it’s time for you to seek a more responsable employer.

    you can see a pattern (ship is sinking) yet you hang on. let the boss fail along with the tech that is holding him hostage

  • rsauto

    April 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I wish it was that easy. I have never been one to change a job at the flip of a coin. I sink with them. Looks like I would know how to fix a sinking ship by now! LOL!

    I just wrote this guy a check this morning (not to far from the amount of mine) and that is with him being clocked out part of the week. Plus he is still working on that flipping truck! I know the boss doesn’t have time to fix it because he is working on others. I think he may be trying to teach him a lesson, but it is freaking me out! The customer is calling and what do you say? Hey our mechanic is in over his head and has damaged your vehicle much further than it was in the begining. He has put it back together for the 3rd to 4th time, but sorry he is having problems performing simple mechanical work.

    I think I could have put the water pump on twice myself in this amount of time. LOL! That was a nervous laugh. I think there should be a new short hand for nervous laugh out loud. You know the kind. Louder than it should be and everyone looks at you funny, so NLOL!

  • bjmcc

    April 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    That is absolutely absurd! Engine r&r’s can be done in one day! This person needs to go. There isn’t a question in my mind. If he stays, cut his pay and make him a lube tech/brake job guy. That is all that he should be doing after hearing that. At some point you have to look at cost – benifit. Have you tried paying him flat rate? You could do that and let him kill himself.

    As far as hiring a new tech, one way that that works for me is the vo-tech mentor program. We have it here in Pa, not so sure about other states. It is truly a great way to not only find a cheap, capable person, but you essentially “groom” them into the tech that you would want. You pay them minimum wage for a few hours a day while they are in school. When they graduate, they usually stay with you if you increase pay. The only downside is that you have to train and evaluate everything they do before you should let them do it unnsupervised. (after hearing your horror story, you may find a better kid off the bat).

    I have been an A-yes mentor for about five years now. You have to build make sure you dedicate your time to the right kid, but if you do find one you will have a great future tech that does things the way you taught them. In five years, I have mentored nine kids. Three of which have turned into flat-rate dealer techs.. Where I originally mentored them.

    I truly hope you can help your boss out. I can imagine what he is going through. He can’t be leading a very happy life right now.

  • rsauto

    May 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm


    The mechanic didn’t show up today. My boss said he had a conversation with him Friday night. They stayed until about 9:00 pm because once the mechanic got the truck back together again (I think that was the 5th time) an oil line blew off and leaked out all of the oil again. The boss said that they had a coversation and even the mechanic said that if he were the boss he would fire himself. The boss didn’t fire him he just told him that they had to figure something out to make this work. Once again, too good for his own good. The mechanic is 27 with a wife and kids. He is a nice guy and really dependable. The situation just sucks!

    Well, I am off to see what I can find. I will post an update as soon as something happens.

  • rsauto

    May 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Well, I haven’t given you guys an update lately, so here it goes. The mechanic returned to work. I couldn’t believe it either. He was supposedly sick and in the hospital. Poor kid. He is so in over his head it is pathetic. My boss is looking for someone new and actually did an interview yesterday and he is thinking of hiring him. I told the boss this morning that his business is suffering because he hasn’t been able to do any PR work for all the baby sitting he has been doing lately. We have to go the extra mile in PR because we are on a main highway, but out of town. With all the problems with the employees he hasn’t been working on talking with the clients and drumming up business. We also talked about moving to a flat rate system. I think it will whip these boys into shape or they can move on down the road. They have put my job in jeopardy and I am pissed. The boss is considering how to handle letting the guy go because he can’t stand it any more. He has been so busy baby sitting that he hasn’t had time to get his thoughts together and clean house. He couldn’t even check the new interview’s references for having to fix the mechanic’s and the body repair guy’s mistakes. Oh, did I forget to mention that there is issues with that employee, as well. He couldn’t be on time and work a full 40 hours if his life depended on it! I am looking for a new body repair technician, as well. I can’t make decisions, but I sure can make suggestions to save my job!

    Oh! this is important. I contacted the labor board to find out if the company had broken any laws by telling the guy he had to clock out and if he worked on the truck it would be on his own time. He was told he could home at any time. He was not asked nor forced to work on that truck. Guess what. We have got to go back and pay him for the few hours he was clocked out! Seems that if an employee works on a project on his own accord you still have to pay them, so if you are in NC don’t let your employee work on anything on their own time. You have to pay them. Nice huh? You also can’t deduct from their pay if they cost the company money. You can take them to civil court, but you cannot deduct from their pay.

    I will let you know how it goes. Hopefully the new guy will be good and the old mechanic can be let go. Hopefully a new body tech will be found that cares about the company and wants to make it prosper, so that he can.

    Oh! we are thinking of moving the guys to a flat rate. I think it would be much better.

  • randi

    May 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Candy, tell your boss to have a shop meeting and change your pay scale to flat rate. It will solve most of your problems. If it comes back they don’t get paid because they allready got paid for it. If they are late, they dont get paid. If they are good, they get paid well (I pay $25 to $30 per flat rate hour) This rate of pay will also scare away the flakes. Good luck.

  • rsauto

    May 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Update. New mechanic is already a bust. Started coming in late on the 1st or 2nd day, work is still piled up and he has already damaged a power steering pump. Of course, the company had to eat it. So, I guess it begins all over again. Yippee!

    The boss did have a come to Jesus meeting with the guys yesterday. I hope it does some good.

    I do want to clarify something, though. I think there has been some eye rolling at my boss in here. I do disagree with how long he keeps these dead beats around, but we simply get little to no resumes in from the Employment Security Comission. I have also posted ads all over the internet and received little to no response. The most response I got was from affiliate marketers trying to get me to put an ad on their site.

    Should I keep toiling along with free ads and the ESC or should I try a paid service? Do you get better results with a paid service such as monster? If I don’t get an actual technician in here, I may be out of a job.

  • rhopp

    May 28, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Hi Candy,

    e-mail me your ad used on Craigslist, I may have some insight. Ours

    have gotten decent response while weeding out the dead wood. We’ve

    hired five new people in the last two months, four have made it

    through the first few weeks. Service manager, Master tech and lube

    tire tech at our new location and one office assistant at the original


    I hope you are keeping your eyes peeled for your next job. It sounds

    to me like your boss is a good-to-great mechanic, with little ability

    or interest in managing a business.

    Many of us learned to work ON our business, not IN our business.

    Attracting mechanics that are worth their salt takes a strong

    business, they can sense one that’s struggling/dying pretty readily.

    Good luck.

  • stanleytire

    July 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Yes, you should be worried about the labor board. You are not allowed to have any employee work without being paid for it. It doesn’t matter if it was the employee’s choice or not.

    That employee could turn your employer in, and the labor board would get involved to make sure he paid the employee for the hours he worked.

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