Drinking Water From a Poisoned Well

Michael Mobile Technician Clinton, Utah Posted   Latest  

A few months ago I placed an ambitious young man in a lube shop to start learning "real world" automotive. He wants to be an Automotive Technician and is in the automotive program in his high school. Last week he was let go due to the business slowing. In discussion, I found that his peers at the lube shop were saying "get out while you can" and "you will never be able to pay your bills doing this".

We currently have a shortfall of top technicians. Everyone has to start somewhere. It is true that working for just over minimum wage will not get you an apartment or pay the bills. Once my friend has mastered step one, he can go to step two. Step by step he can grasp each concept until he is a master. At some point in between step 1 and master, he will make enough to provide for himself. Eventually he can buy a modest home and live the American dream.

The poison his peers fed him did not do anyone any good. I had trusted this business to give him a foundation to start building on. The shop let me down. I have now placed him with another shop. I am not sure what to expect. I truly hope that this shop does not repeat the same crap he heard from the previous one. My suggestion to all who think being a tech is a bad idea is to pursue something else and let those who want to be technicians live their dream.

Being a tech is not about the money. It is about using your brain to analyze a problem and using your hands to fix it. Back in the day we rebuilt engines at the shop level. It was one of the rewarding jobs we did. Installing rings, pistons, bearings, heads, pan, covers, timing chain. After it is all assembled and in the car you would anticipate the sound of success. Turn the key and crank the engine. Once it was running, it was like you gave birth to a child. The satisfaction is incredible. If this is not for you, get out, do something you like. Don't poison the well for those coming up.

Money is important. We need to make enough to take care of our families. We need to make enough to put some away for emergencies and for retirement. We need to have the success and lifestyle enjoyed by other skilled workers. Some techs have this now. For those who are not making this kind of income, I have shops begging for help.

The shop culture is so important. When the team works well together, it creates an energy that can not only be felt but also seen. Seen in the way the team interacts and in the way the business operates. If you have bad apples, they can spoil the whole crew. Shop managers, please work with your team to build them up. Make them feel appreciated. If you have a bad apple that just won't listen, help them find something else.

As a technician are you happy?

As a manager, what do you see happening in your shops?

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Robert Diagnostician
Ballston, New York
Robert
 

As a technician I am happy. I love the challenges of auto repair. I always have. Personally I love the satisfaction of quickly finding that problem no one else could. That pushes me to be the best I can. Take part in all of the trading I can. For the top level technicians and owners auto repair is not a career it is a lifestyle. During my career I had worked in some very poorly run shops. The

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Bruce Technician
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Bruce
   

I agree completely. I have seen way to many guys in this field that hate it. Even some that made a very good living. I worked in a bad environment for a long time. I worked there for 8 years and really grew to hate this profession. When I finally had enough, I moved my box 5 times in 1 year. Landed a job at a good shop, with a very good environment. I love what I do now and it doesn't hurt that

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William Diagnostician
Ashland, Virginia
William
 

And we would not expect this how? Most shop management (not the ones on here probably) could care less about shop employees. Lose one? Hire another until either they leave or get fired. Rinse and repeat. Not about the money? Really.... That makes for a nice talking point UNTIL it IS about the money. When the bills become too much to be covered by your paycheck, then it becomes about the money…

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Jeffry Educator
Québec, Quebec
Jeffry
 

“When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” H.L. Mencken

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Brady Owner/Technician
Yakima, Washington
Brady
 

Exactly +1

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

So when I said it was not about the money, what I meant was that there are some jobs you could not pay me enough to do. I am just not interested. I have a passion for automotive. So with that passion I am willing to take a lower wage than I would doing something less desirable. I want to make a great wage and live the American Dream. I just don't want to hate life just for a fat paycheck.

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Brady Owner/Technician
Yakima, Washington
Brady
 

I agree with everything you are saying. Just to offer a view from the flip side I am offering good pay(including performance bonuses), medical benefits, 401K, continued education and training, I am admittedly light on the vacation part, we almost never work a weekend, all major holidays off. In fact this is our last day of work until Jan. 2nd as we are closing the shop to give everyone some time

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi William, I work with some shops with a good culture. The benefits vary but one shop in particular told me he was offering a multi thousand dollar sign on bonus. When I asked him if he would pay for relocation he said "Mike, I am losing $15K a month not having another Master Technician. I will do what it takes to get one". So within reason the opportunity is there. I can say his top

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Kevin Diagnostician
Poughkeepsie, New York
Kevin
 

Great points! To this very purpose, I just started guest speaking at our local vocational high school. I am trying to give the students there a very realistic idea of the incredible potential that they have as well as the security that their talents will provide them. We have covered potential pay scales, tooling up and trends in our profession as well as learning that mistakes are learning

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Thomas Technician
Manassas Park, Virginia
Thomas
 

Michael, as a technician I am blessed for the journey that has been given to me however I am not so happy of where i am. I started out my career in 2013 at a euro shop, feel in love with BMW and i was challenged with diagnostic issues on a daily bases and really felt that I was really getting the wheels moving as far as being very successful in this field. The down side was I was working 6 days

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Michael Owner/Technician
Cartersville, Georgia
Michael
 

Hi Thomas, We need young guys like you in this industry. If you have Euro experience and want to learn I'm sure you could find a spot at a place that would be open 5 days a week and have benefits. When I go to a training event especially for BMW there are other shop owners looking for someone just like you!!!

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Jeff Manager
Manchester, Missouri
Jeff
   

Thomas, I have 5 shops (including our own) that I could throw a rock at and hit that would take on a young ambitious tech like you. If you have any interest email me your info and resume, FYI, we are one of the good ones. …

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Thomas Technician
Manassas Park, Virginia
Thomas
 

Hey Jeff I really appreciate your response. I will have to think About it as I have a lot right now I need to get through these next couple months like Training classes and ASEs. id also have to talk to you more, I see you are in MO.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi Thomas, It is a real shame that you are not able to use your talents to their full extent. Understanding electrical, diagnostics, programming, networks is a valuable skill to have. Keep looking and you will find a great opportunity. Feel free to reach out to any who have responded on here. We are all happy to do what we can to place you in a better environment.

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Thomas Technician
Manassas Park, Virginia
Thomas
 

Michael you could say it’s my own fault however when I decided to take this current job I thought I’d be helping with the great good Of America by providing my skills. Not that I’m not proud of that however I wanna be the best I can. If I ever need to help or advice I wouldnot mind reaching out, one of my goals this year is to network with more techs. Keep doing what your doing to help all of us!

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Martin Diagnostician
Burleson, Texas
Martin
 

As a tech, I am happy. Its a shame they gave him that advice. It's also a shame that there are other forums that basically say the same thing. That lube center is definitely not the only place saying those things. I started out in a lube center when I was 17. Worked there for about a year. Then I went to a major tire store and worked there for several years. Left that place and decided I wanted

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John Owner
Huntington Beach, California
John
 

As a shop leader I believe what's missing for the new tech in this story is a clear career path description of what is possible in our Auto Profession. We cannot prevent the naysayers from trying to dissuade the newbie but In a perfect world, you would replace the dream killers with people who want a great career. Our industry lacks documented career paths that are complete with what the

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi John, I like what you are doing. A clear path to success is lacking in our business. A lube technician needs to know that there is far more out there for them if they just apply themselves. It may not be as a technician. It could be a service advisor, store manager, parts store manager, insurance adjuster and the list goes on. I took a look at your website. I can tell your team has put a

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Steve Owner/Technician
Northwich, United Kingdom
Steve
 

I love being a Diagnostician but as the TBT stream came to the consensus, most of us that do it for ourselves are virtually unemployable. We are a unique breed. Regarding young techs and poisoned wells, the techs that hate the job should get gone, we'd all be better off without them, leaving the floor clear for passionate professionals and mentors that want to pass on their enthusiasm and

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi Steve, I like your unemployable comment. It seems once we taste of the freedom of being mobile and our own boss, it is difficult if not impossible to go back. Some are happy to punch the clock and work in the same location all day. For me, I like a new challenge every day. Moving from shop to shop keeps me interested. When I working in shops before, I tended to get frustrated with the "dead

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean
   

Yea I'm a lead tech at Firestone 10 years, my manager does pay for me to go to classes I want to go to. Yea I've seen tons of guys come through our doors and the neighboring shops say the same thing "no money in this business". Thing is, there is. The ones I see say that are the ones that want to do either only brake jobs and suspension, or lazy guys thinking there is money in a job they think

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Hi Sean, Just a thought. I believe that there are other opportunities within Firestone that may be a good fit for you. There is much to be said about working for a company that gives you insurance and other benefits. Maybe you would like training other technicians or being a troubleshooter for your region. If you want to run your own shop or mobile business that is fantastic. Study business

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean
 

Yea, there used to be a area trainer, not sure what changed. But Firestone still has a regional training program. That was a consideration of mine. If the plan to get out goes awry.

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Geoff Diagnostician
Lahaina, Hawaii
Geoff
 

"Eventually he can buy a modest home and live the American dream." Maybe where YOU live brother. Certainly not here, or Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or ....

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Well Geoff, You got me there. I had a Blue Chip job with a parts manufacturer a few years ago. Part of the deal was to move to Southern California. Even right after the recession I was unable to find a home that was affordable. A modest home with small lot outside of LA was $300K back then. Due to this and other circumstances I had to resign. In interviewing technicians at most shops I found

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Geoff Diagnostician
Lahaina, Hawaii
Geoff
 

You have gone full-circle there, "who is going to fix the cars?" and therein lies the TRUE problem. If the car owners don't make enough money, and don't have the background education to understand concepts like "cost of ownership", then you have NO GOOD CUSTOMERS. You can't have a successful business with no good customers. This means a good auto career at a good auto shop (or mobile

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John Owner
Huntington Beach, California
John
 

Really? We're in the LA area (Huntington Beach) and our A level techs own homes and live good lives. The B level guys do well too and can afford local rents. Our goal is to always lead the team up the career path and make it good for them, the guests and the shop at the same time. We can all pull together and make the auto service profession a very desirable career opportunity. Happy New

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

John, You are one of the good ones. It is fantastic that you care enough to pay the guys well. Many techs are not so fortunate. I met guys in the Bay Area making $10 to $15 an hour. For me, I did not want to take out another mortgage and live leaner than I was used to.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael
 

Here is a wage map as reported by the technicians that have gone to the mechanic alliance website. mechanicalliance​.​com/wage-map The more that fill in the information, the better idea we will have of where it is going...

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Geoff Diagnostician
Lahaina, Hawaii
Geoff
 

A quick Google search tells me: " The median home price in Huntington Beach is $812,500." A standard 20 % down payment, is a "mere" $162,000. How would anybody who has been spending $500 a month on tools since he was 19 years old have $162,000 laying around? None of my business, in his personal case (of course) but the barrier to home ownership in our field is tool payments. You will

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John Owner
Huntington Beach, California
John
 

There are several schools of thought on the tool purchases. There is one theme where the shop owns a standard tool set used by the technician. I'm out for a few days but would enjoy re-engaging in this thread. On the housing affordability, there are houses below the 'median' price in HB and the prices are even less in the local surrounding communities. Our profession can charge a fair price and

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