Author Topic: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?  (Read 3362 times)

FoMoGo

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Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« on: March 15, 2012, 08:34:57 PM »
Got my "new" company truck today.
2004 F450 6.0 Powerstroke diesel 4x4with a 10' box on the back.
My boss had called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that it was a "problem child".
They have already replaced 2 turbos on it, and he hoped that me having it... being a car guy and knowing about them... it would fair better than it has.
The guy who drove it from Denver out here to Pa told me that while going down the road it would lose boost.
He would put his foot on the floor, it would downshift and rev up... but wouldnt gain any speed.
It would slow on hills and had trouble keeping up with traffic.
Then other times it would run perfect.
I loaded 5-6,000 lbs on it and drove it home this afternoon.
Same thing happened with me.
It would be running great, pull out and pass anything you want... then it would fall on its face.
Drop speed and flatten out.
When I stopped for fuel I popped the hood to look around.
This engine has a variable vane turbo, the computer adjusts the turbine according to load, throttle position, etc.
I checked to make sure the plug was in correctly, and noticed that some of the wiring going into the plug was broken.
I pulled some slack on the harness and forced the broken wiring together and wedged it into position.
Took it on a 50 mile or so drive... perfection.
This truck has had over $5,000 in repairs due to a $40 wiring pigtail.
I figured it out in under a minute after popping the hood.
While I am tickled that it is a cheap and easy fix, it disgusts me that the fix IS that cheap and simple.
Just WTF...


Jim
http://www.turbopinto.com/images/ar/asshole.jpg
Old avatar: http://www.turbopinto.com/images/ar/jimsmall.jpg
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[ChaosweaveR]

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 09:24:58 PM »
It's places like Goodyear, Sears Auto, Mavis, Firestone, etc, where doing as much basic work (oil changes, tires, batteries, brakes, suspension, alignments, etc) as they possibly can. They'll favor this over doing actual diagnostic troubleshooting, which is where some big money can be made (like your truck's turbo issue). These shops will tackle an oddball job once in a blue moon, but usually stay away because of potential liabilities (misdiagnosing the problem mainly). The smaller, privately owned shops that will happily do jobs like this are becoming harder to find sadly, well...at least by me. A good friend of mine finally opened his own repair shop, he rarely turns any big job away, excellent with diagnostics. 
-Chris-

2005 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

MiniVanMan

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 10:41:54 PM »
A few of our technicians do this sometimes. Swamped with work, taking a risk on a hunch.

It's a HUGE no-no and GM reps have shoved their feet up the service managers ass over it enough times that anytime a tech does something like that and makes a mistake, the Repair Order and customer complaint gets posted on the board over the time clock and the tech is written up.

GM is going balls to the wall customer satisfaction lately, not sure how ford and chrysler are handling things but I can almost guarantee that if you own a GM product and you aren't getting satisfactory service, a call to a GM rep will take care of it.

We had a customer with a 1999 grand am that had a small engine fire (oil leak she never fixed, broken plug wire also never fixed, items that were pointed out to her by another shop in the past). GM ended up buying her a new engine despite that the engine itself was undamaged... just the plastic cover and some wiring was melted.

Onyx Dragon

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2012, 01:03:54 AM »
I had this problem with my BMW at one shop, and even at a BMW dealership with my E36.  Talked to my buddy who knows BMWs really well and he told me to just bring it to his shop.  He fixed it at 1/3rd the cost of the other shop, and 1/4th the cost of the BMW dealership.  Both were just guessing.  According to my buddy "Most people just part swap on these cars because they don't know them well enough.  BMW dealerships don't know them that well because they would rather up sell you to a new BMW rather than fix the older car."  I can see how it would leak over to other manufacturers.  It's easier for the tech.

Southern_Pride

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 03:24:23 PM »
Yes. Considering most are idiots and most around here anyway even experienced ones can't make more than 50k a year and thats top of the scale. Most aren't paid enough to give a shit.

[ChaosweaveR]

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 04:04:24 PM »
Most aren't paid enough to give a shit.

This. The field just doesn't pay good from most of what I've seen (aside from the small shops) from most of these maintainence shops. People never stay for long.
-Chris-

2005 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

Joshua

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2012, 07:51:32 PM »
Yes. Considering most are idiots and most around here anyway even experienced ones can't make more than 50k a year and thats top of the scale. Most aren't paid enough to give a shit.

Exactly. You hear stories about techs making 80-100K a year, they're just that: stories.

Hell, I'm pretty much an A tech myself, and am underpaid for the work I do. 30K a year? To do engine and transmission R&R's all damn day? No wonder I went part time and am back in college getting a bachelor's degree.

Combine all that with the fact that there has been a severe shortage of good techs in this industry for many years now, and you find that all that's left are the minimum wage tire jockeys and the burnt out old guys. Nobody is getting into this field, and the reason is it is hard work for little pay. The only way you make a good wage is if you own a shop.
...and either quite drinking or quite posting because you're going into some sort of weird AMERICA 1776 FUCK YEAH mode.

maxharvard

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2012, 11:41:49 AM »
Exactly. You hear stories about techs making 80-100K a year, they're just that: stories.

Hell, I'm pretty much an A tech myself, and am underpaid for the work I do. 30K a year? To do engine and transmission R&R's all damn day? No wonder I went part time and am back in college getting a bachelor's degree.

Combine all that with the fact that there has been a severe shortage of good techs in this industry for many years now, and you find that all that's left are the minimum wage tire jockeys and the burnt out old guys. Nobody is getting into this field, and the reason is it is hard work for little pay. The only way you make a good wage is if you own a shop.


My techs made 80-100k a year and that's not a story, its fact.

It's also a fact that they were some of the best techs I've ever seen. They easily flagged 90-120 hours a week. And no, these guys weren't selling crap they didn't need, this honest legit work.

We did so well because we were honest and did quality work, we had a %75 customer return rate and guys who only asked for specific techs because of how good they are and honest. We also had an honest sales team that didn't need to up sell or pull dirty bullshit tricks. Sure, our average ticket wad lower than the other, but we were so busy it didn't matter.

You can make good money as a tech, but its a whole team effort and if got some bullshit people doing bullshit things, then you get bullshit results.

My techs average tenure was 12 years, we kept our techs so long because we kept them busy. It takes a long time to build that reputation, but once it gets going, its all good.

So, those stories you hear are true.... You are just at the wrong place.


Not to mention, my best tech ... 18 years with us, had one of the cheapest and smallest tool box I've ever seen. He didn't need anything else because he used his brain, the best tool in his box. He could find a shorted wire in a bundle or even a pinhole leak in a vacuum hose.

Just saying, the stories aren't myths, I lived it

Eric

Southern_Pride

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2012, 09:51:50 PM »
Max, thats a one in million place. The fact is most shops have crooked people running them, and because of that the techs try to sell more shit so they can eat. I've seen both sides.

Joshua

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2012, 11:07:55 PM »
90-120 hours a week? That's 200-300% on flat rate. That's not possible, unless they are working more than 40 hours a week. I can see it if they are working 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week.

I myself have had jobs where I do way better than book rate, sure, but that's isolated jobs. Being able to be at 200-300% on every single job? Not possible. Shit happens. Bolts break, etc. If a tech is flagging that many hours, he's making money with his pen, not his wrenches.
...and either quite drinking or quite posting because you're going into some sort of weird AMERICA 1776 FUCK YEAH mode.

maxharvard

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2012, 12:02:23 AM »
90-120 hours a week? That's 200-300% on flat rate. That's not possible, unless they are working more than 40 hours a week. I can see it if they are working 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week.

I myself have had jobs where I do way better than book rate, sure, but that's isolated jobs. Being able to be at 200-300% on every single job? Not possible. Shit happens. Bolts break, etc. If a tech is flagging that many hours, he's making money with his pen, not his wrenches.

Sorry dude, but it happened frequently, you can choose to believe me or not. My guys almost always had 2-3 cars on the lift at once, doing random things at once. That's how they did it. Not to mention they could whip out jobs in half or less of the Michelin guide.

But, hey what do I know right? I wasn't there signing the dudes checks every week seeing how much each made or watching the business metrics or selling the jobs so they could work. Shit, the techs used to fight me for work, it was nuts some days how much they got done.

They got paid that much because they were efficient as hell. Yes, we had come backs, but that's normal and was rare.

My top tech at the time was making more than I was per hour, and he got flag rated!

Believe me or not, I don't care. What I learned from those guys is that if your talented, can multitask, driven and work smart, you can make a killing. Those who weren't, simply didn't make it all that far. Most techs that went through my place were too arrogant and cocky to hack it. We didn't give a flying crap about ASE certs, we all had them. A dude didn't get to work on anything until he proved himself, that weeded out the techs who couldn't/didn't want to work and wanted 50k a year for doing a tire rotation an hour.

So, like I said, believe me or not. It happened. A customer retention/return rate of %75, and you think we weren't busy as hell? Come on.

Joshua

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2012, 12:23:37 AM »
Michelin guide? I'm not familiar with that labor book. I've used both Alldata and Mitchell's, and they both suck for labor times. I usually have to add an hour to most bigger jobs that I estimate to even get to break even labor rate. I have a sneaking suspicion they are keeping their rates on the very low side.

So your guys have 2-3 bays per man? that's quite a large shop you must have.

Busy as hell I understand, but there's only so much you can do in an 8 hour day. And like I already stated, 200-300% is unsustainable. Shit happens. Give one of your wonder techs a manifold job on an F150, then wonder why a job that books for 2 hours took them 5. Broken manifold studs. Drilling required. Takes time.
...and either quite drinking or quite posting because you're going into some sort of weird AMERICA 1776 FUCK YEAH mode.

maxharvard

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2012, 02:33:00 PM »
Michelin guide? I'm not familiar with that labor book. I've used both Alldata and Mitchell's, and they both suck for labor times. I usually have to add an hour to most bigger jobs that I estimate to even get to break even labor rate. I have a sneaking suspicion they are keeping their rates on the very low side.

So your guys have 2-3 bays per man? that's quite a large shop you must have.

Busy as hell I understand, but there's only so much you can do in an 8 hour day. And like I already stated, 200-300% is unsustainable. Shit happens. Give one of your wonder techs a manifold job on an F150, then wonder why a job that books for 2 hours took them 5. Broken manifold studs. Drilling required. Takes time.


Sorry, I meant Mitchell guide, the Michelin one is for European markets.

I can tell you how they did it even with bad jobs.

I had a total of 8 bays, 9 if you count the alignment rack.

I had 2 "A" techs - Paid the most and given the most difficult jobs, 2 "B" tech who did basic stuff (i.e. brake jobs, coolant flushes, tranny services..etc...) then I had 2 "C" techs, who only did oilies, tire rotations and smaller stuff.

Each "A" guy got 2-3 bays, no questions. He got 3 bays when the other "A" tech was out for that day. The "B" guy got 2 bays to manage on his own. The "C" guys each got one and would share with the others if they needed to.

The "A" guys could prioritize so well, that they could walk away from a frustrating job, finish an easier one like a brake flush/oil change/tire rot whatever and then come back, bang on the trouble job for a little bit and then go back to another job and so on. They could almost do this all day long. So, sure, that Mitchell guide might say 6.3 hours for a timing belt on that Audi and it would be done in his 8-9 hour shift, but in that while he would bang out 4-5 oilies, a brake job, a tranny flush and 4 new tires and an alignment. At the end of the day, that 6.3 timing belt turned into 15-20 flagged hours all said and done. Hell, alignments were the best money makers we had, my "A" guys would knock out an alignment in 20 mins if he hurried fast enough.

They were my "A" guys because they could manage that amount of work. My "B" guys could barely set up 1 car and manage that well enough let alone two cars at once... that was too much work for them. I had to manage them a bit more closely, but all in all, they all watched their own clock and really only worked as much as they wanted. If they didn't want the work, they didn't get paid, that simple.

The best part was that they managed themselves that way, I didn't really have to babysit anyone except maybe one or two newer guys who weren't with the program yet. My "A" guys worked at their own pace and told me when they wanted more or less work. My "B" guys were pretty close but I needed to make sure I didn't treat them like the "A" guys and over load them with too many bigger jobs. My "C" guys did mostly oilies so those were pretty simple to manage, "No oilies right now Johnny! Sorry dude!" and that was that.

Like I said, the best and most profitable techs I know were the ones who can manage the 2-3 cars at one time deal and not get lost. Not all guys can hack that and that's just how it is. I had a good crew where everyone knew where they stood. I visited the place 5 years after I left and that's exactly how it was, same guys, same jobs, same level of work. The "C" techs will change every so often, but that's to be expected. I did have one "C" guy who was there for close to 10 years because he knew he couldn't find a better gig. We were busy and he knew it.

Were there down times? Of course, but what made up for it was the individual tech, not me, not management, not other techs, but the guy himself... what did he want, did he want to work and make money? Or did he only want to do half the work and get half the money.... simple as that. Talent played a big role, but there's a good reason we kept our techs and our customers so long; we delivered on what we said.  The techs stayed busy and that kept them happy. We were honest to our customers as far as I'm concerned and that made them happy.

It worked.

~Eric

Onyx Dragon

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2012, 06:54:07 PM »
There are always exceptions to the rule.  Your shop was an exception, and it may not have been an exception then.  I don't know when you worked there.

Joshua

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Re: Are mechanics turning into "parts swappers"?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2012, 09:13:00 AM »
Eric,

Do you have need for a very motivated and highly skilled A tech, who has 4 ASE certs and 4-4.5 years experience? Have 3 years experience welding with MIG, as well as extensive experience working with exhaust systems, and fabricating new and custom exhaust systems from scratch. Very skilled with an oxy-acetelyne cutting torch.

Lord I hope your shop is in PA.
...and either quite drinking or quite posting because you're going into some sort of weird AMERICA 1776 FUCK YEAH mode.