Give a man a fish, or should we be teaching them to fish?

Scott Owner Moreno Valley, California Posted   Latest  

As the adage goes - "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Hang on for a second, or ---- If you don’t want to get bored to tears you can skip down to paragraph 4...

What is going to be the catalyst for change in this profession? Every innovation that came along I heard was going to be the demise of life as we know it. You know what, even though I heard the sky might have been falling, it didn't. Very little has changed since I began doing this for a paycheck over 40 years ago. The transition from points to electronic ignition, carburetion to fuel injection...We seem to plod along, adapt, and with few exceptions, the scenes playing out across the country haven't changed much at all.

I still hear that mechanics and shops are crooks. And you know what, some of them are, but in my experience the out and out thieves are way outnumbered by the incompetent. I digress, incompetence is ONE thing that has changed in this business, industry…As vehicles have gotten more complex, incompetence does seem to be rising exponentially. Are incompetent people crooks? I don’t know, but I don't think it's just semantics. Incompetence essentially means you paid for something but you didn't get the desired result due to, um ah, hem haw - INCOMPETENCE. In our profession a consumer brought in something broken, repairs were attempted, money exchanged hands, but the vehicle still has a problem. In a lot of these cases the consumer might have come out ahead with the thieves, as at least they didn't toss a bunch of crap at the vehicle and botch it up so bad, that it's still fixable. Which begs the question - what is going to have to happen to have real change occur in this industry?

I can tell you what is not going to change, and that's human nature. Take a 100 people and throw them together to do a job. Give them all the answers, tell them what to do, and how to do it, and you'll find 90 of them play nicely and go along to get a paycheck. You'll see 5, or 6 of the 100, that want the check, but are perfectly content to take advantage of each and every opportunity to let someone else do the work for them, and work only when called to task. Pretty soon the 90 (that were happy) are talking amongst themselves to see how they can get out of work too, but still receive a check. That leaves the 4, or 5 that want to do things the way they should be done. They see problems, and want to offer suggestions on how to make things work better. They take pride in their work and actually can think and figure things out without being told. Those people are branded as troublemakers and eventually 2, or 3 of them get with the ‘program.’ The 1, or 2 that don’t want to play the game move on for their sanity, or for self-preservation. Now my numbers are hypothetical, but I see this playing out all across the country. We see it in this industry, public or private sector unions, in the forums, and on the internet.

Which gets me to the point of my post. I can see some of you thinking – finally.

Something came to my attention about a year ago and this has been bothering me ever since. I’m not sure how many of you, or your shops use Mitchell software for estimating, or for service information. I’d venture a guess most of us have and use Snap-on products, though. You may, or may not be aware that Snap-on pur…d Mitchell years back. I had my Snap-on dealer touting their scan tools with SureTrack fixes. I personally didn’t see a need, but there are quite a few shops that seem to get by using this method, or Google, YouTube, or anything else they can come up with. Can I use my “phone a friend lifeline?” Can I call the dealer? You know them, but we’re such a helpful group, and being helpful means to give them a fish, right? Anyhoo –

My shop uses Mitchell Manager SE for service writing and as such I have been party to what I see as part of this industries problem.(s) According to the EULA, I not only give Mitchell/Snap-on money for the utilization of their program, but I give them specific rights to use my data for their SureTrack fixes. Now the customers information is not used, but I’ve given them the right to use my, YMM and the Complaint – Cause – Correction for their database. They haven't just targeted me, but each and every shop owner that uses Mitchell products has also agreed to do the same.

I can’t stop some of the YouTube videos, and honestly some of them are well made and informative. I can’t stop DIY’s from posting on the DuraMax forums, or any of what seems to be 100's of vehicle specific forums… But an observation,...As much as I hate to admit, some of them have more thought and testing involved than some of the so called ‘professionals’ out there. I can’t stop consumers bad behavior as its’ been reinforced, by gasp, US, collectively. What I can do, and if I knew for certain that 16 years’ worth of data wouldn’t be some mumbo jumbo, I’d switch to another provider.

Let me ask you, as probably most here are the 1, or 2% that can think for themselves, figure things out, don’t own a 12 gauge shotgun to fix things…(I know there’s a time and a place for help – it’s just not every vehicle you see)

What is it going to take for this industry to change? Do databases help, or hinder people? Is the internet our friend, or foe to get things right? Is it too late, as there are very few new faces wanting to take the place of seasoned techs leaving, retiring? Is it possible to teach people to think for themselves, or is that something too little, too late? Are we helping, or hurting people by giving them a ‘fish for a day?’

One thing I can say is Snap-on’s model is not sustainable, or maybe it is?

Thoughts?

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Back in the 1980s we did not have the internet, cell phones or you tube. Somehow we got by. Tune ups were a cap, rotor, plugs. We could overhaul a carburetor. A knock in the engine was Carbon, Mains or Rod Bearings. When a clutch was bad, it grabbed or slipped. When something leaked we could repair it. Fast forward to 2019. We deal with a vast network of computers. Hundreds of thousands of lines…

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Michael, Your mention of ADAS and your mention of not doing a job that you're not equipped to handle shows that you're doing things the way they should be done. If you do not have the tooling, equipment, software, information, training - you really should not be doing that type of work until you do. You would think shop owners would realize what they're opening themselves up to as far as…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Scott, It is hard to know the mind or the intention of your neighbor. When everyone does not play by the same rules it creates an uneven playing field. We have the same problem in my market. Storage sheds turned auto repair facilities. Cash deals for low rates. This devalues legitimate work. I have worked in your market for a short time. I think it is somewhat harder there. Licensing and…

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Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

Hi Scott: You can't teach "natural curiosity". You can encourage it but not teach it. Without it, there is no innate drive to learn to learn. BTW, it can be discouraged as well. I guess I should say that it has been discouraged well. Guido

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Dave Mobile Technician
Ironton, Ohio
Dave Default
 

Guido, I have come to believe that if you were not born with a natural talent and curiosity for any chosen field you are in, you are not going to find it in any school or work place. Of course I am often wrong in my observations.

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Guido, You're 100% correct - which should mean that the people that do have a desire and curiousity should be rewarded. This should be encouraged and something that someone aspires to be. But you know what happens to the smartest guy in the shop as they quickly get discouraged and they either get smart, by playing dumb, or move on to something/somewhere else. Are you saying we have…

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Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

Hi Scott: I'm sure that management can take some share of the blame or credit but it starts long before then. Actually, it starts before a child even begins school. In my mind (dark and scary as it is), the key is encouraging people to learn to learn. That puts them in a position where they can take what they know and apply it to what they don't know (deductive reasoning). FWIW, this isn't a…

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Bob Owner/Technician
East Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Bob Default
 

Guido, I agree with your National security view, unfortunately 50% of the country today doesn't care about national security. It scares me to think half the country would be happy with no military and no borders. Scan tools would be the least of our worries.

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Bill Technician
Rosetown, Saskatchewan
Bill Default
   

Scott, In my opinion, we all have access to the same info. It is here to stay, and it is helpful. Those who lack the capacity will not be able to sift through, or leverage the information to its full potential. Those who are able..will. The competency levels of the two groups are both moving upwards with access to information. One big negative is how it can reduce critical thinking skills.

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Bill, I get what you're saying, but within the 2 groups - the competent who utilize technology correctly and those who just utilize it... Which ones are going away? Why is that? Who do consumers choose, and why?

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Bill Technician
Rosetown, Saskatchewan
Bill Default
   

Here are my opinions Scott, Who will utilize the tech correctly?Those with critical thinking skills. Which ones are going away? Niether. You need about one critical thinker for about 10 guys from my experience. Why is that? Because the market will not support an industry with 100% competence. It just doesn't exist. Who do consumers choose? Most customers choose the flashy places with good…

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Robert Diagnostician
Fair Oaks, California
Robert Default
 

Well with the complexity of cars these days and if you work on all brands, information is the way we can fix these cars. When you have a problem, many times an experienced tech will have some ideas of where to start looking. That can save a lot of time figuring out the problem. If you are facing a new problem on a new model car, you may not have a direction to start. That is when those databases…

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Robert, I have some thoughts, obviously... One is working on everything, all makes all models. Is that even possible today? I know there are many that try to do that, but - Is that good for a consumer, or are they better served by someone who is equipped, trained for the cars they choose to work on? "Technoligy is not good or bad, but how we use it." To my story of a 100 people. That's…

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Doug Owner
Midland, Michigan
Doug Default
 

I will relate a story that I observed first-hand. Our technology is being taught at a university (no names), and I was invited to do a presentation since I was visiting to also do some data collection and testing. This particular learning institution had a history of helping students enroll and taking them through the process step-by-step, which resulted in fairly good results. Somewhere up the…

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Wayd Owner/Technician
Bozeman, Montana
Wayd Default
 

I have a lot of thoughts about this...but will try and be brief. In paragraph 4 you described perfectly why communism never works. It is great that there are people who want to help others. It feels good to help. But blindly helping people who refuse to help themselves, in the end (big picture), makes life worse for both parties. If you are going to have a venue such as this, there needs to be…

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Mike Technician
Atlanta, Georgia
Mike Default
 

I've got a big issue with companies harvesting info for free and then selling it back to us. Identifix comes to mind.

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Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

But only on the blue or white ones. Guido

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Mike, It's actually worse than that for Mitchell, as I'm paying for the privilege to use their software, but then they're selling the mined data back to us. What a world.

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Maksim Diagnostician
Rancho Cordova, California
Maksim Default
   

Ive noticed--alot of my posted fixes did not come up on identifix checking later---so i stopped posting my fixes ( keep tricky fixes to myself ) ----only some simple find gets posted. I said no more feeding them...

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Maksim, Can I ask what point of sale/management system you're using? That was part of my post that really irks me, that Mitchell/Snap-on takes my data/fixes, as well as everyone else's to compile their database. I talked to the Mitchell rep, and while he gets my point, it came down to they'd be stupid if they didn't do the same as all the other companies out there that mine data. If you…

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Maksim Diagnostician
Rancho Cordova, California
Maksim Default
 

Im not the owner—im just a Diagnostic Technician—-i use AllData for Wiring and staff and Identifix. i was talking about identifix—repair follow up / posting. Alot times those guys wasted my time ending up with no help from them—-when i figure on my own—they call few weeks later to get the fix from me.

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Maksim, I get you're not the owner, but if your shop uses Mitchell for invoicing you are helping with your fixes, as part of that is compiling data bases of known fixes from all the shops that use their system. This might have gotten lost in all this is I have no problem helping others, but the way things are we're keeping the less skilled open and employed by giving our information away…

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Maksim Diagnostician
Rancho Cordova, California
Maksim Default
 

yes we use Michell for invoicing. And yea You are right—ill be honest i didnt even know that Michell software is actually that smart to collect data like that — i thought its just typing notes on Invoice to print and keep track or records locally. Being busy diagnosing 8 hours a day I never thought about that. i thought Identifix, iatn is the only place gathering data from smart techs.

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Caleb Technician
Mishawaka, Indiana
Caleb Default
 

Wow interesting discussion. I'll add some thoughts. I don't know if they will answer any questions but here goes. I am 28 years old. I work in a large GM Dealer with 20 flat rate techs and several lube guys. I have a very good job here. I got it because I stuck too my guns and didn't let management control me. However I am also respectful and go above an beyond with diag when possible and repair…

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Stephen Technician
Gallatin, Tennessee
Stephen Default
 

That’s an early version of the adage. It has been updated to; Give a man a fish and he’ll for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll sit in the boat and drink beer. It would be funnier if it had less truth.

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Hollis Technician
Boulder, Colorado
Hollis Default
 

Updated updated version is he'll get a U-toob channel, sponsors, endorsements, likes, monetary compensation and stop at Micky-D's for a Filet-O-Fish on the way home.

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Eric Owner/Technician
Edgerton, Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

Wrong question. Teach a man to do xxxxxxx and he'll only learn what you teach. Teach a man how to learn and he'll continue to learn until he finds what he likes, becomes really good at it and blows you away with his capabilities, leaving everyone else wondering how he did it. We have removed the desire to learn from our society. Learning involves making mistakes and mistakes are bad so…

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean Default
 

And it's disheartening of those of us that want to learn are not compensated fairly compared to those that "p0171? Let's do the o2s" guys. I worked with a guy (unsure who's stuff he worked on outside of work) butwould ask the time come to me and example: hey I got this cam crank correlation code I've already replaced both cam sensors, crank sensor, both cam vvt solenoids. And it still remains?…

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Sean, Unfortunately your experiences are mirrored by the vast majority of techs. There's something inherently wrong with a system that rewards speed over knowledge. There's something inherently wrong with a system that requires you to work two jobs, one that comes in the form of your check, and the other as a means to pay the bills - moonlighting. There's something that is inherently wrong…

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean Default
 

Because of DN is why I got rid of Iatn, and identifix, I feel like dn, is willingness to help others that would (mostly) helpback if needed, I'veseen a few post that make me question, the willingness to read how the system operates or at least test something. But for the most part it's the case studies, and articles I like. Something I can take away. My new shop seems to pay better off…

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Scott Owner
Moreno Valley, California
Scott Default
 

Hi Sean, I'm not sure if I touched a nerve with you with what I posted, but this was not directed to you, or anyone like you. It was directed at greedy corporations that are mining my data for their profit which does nothing IMHO to elevate this field past the days of when I started. It was directed at shops that think the correct way to 'diagnose' a vehicle is to pull DTC's and see what…

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean Default
 

Nope no nerve was touched, I was picking up what you put down.

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