We got a lot of submissions for our fourth annual Reader's Issue. Among them was a good look at the industry by Scott Faris, a technician in Kemptville, ON. He puts the good and the bad under the microscope.
Why I love – and hate – this job
Newcom Business Media
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When it comes to automotive repair, you have to take the good with the bad. But for me, it’s mostly good.
That’s the attitude I try to bring to work every single day. And I can usually maintain that attitude all day long.
1. Every day I have a chance to be a hero in someone’s life… and that’s a great feeling!
2. The job brings a wide variety of challenges – both physical and mental – that keep me to top of my game. As a flat-rate technician, I’m never bored. Every job is different, and every problem has a unique solution.
3. I enjoy offering good customer service. Every job I do gives me a chance to win the customer over – and satisfied customers will request me the next time they’re in… and that gives me more revenue.
4. I get the chance to influence young apprentices and co-op students. I love their enthusiasm, and their eagerness to learn. I tell them what a great career this can be.
5. I like the freedom and career stability I have. If I need extra income I can stay late or work extra shifts. If I have personal errands to run or want to attend a course, I can leave early. And when the time comes, I can pick up and find a new job elsewhere because technicians are in high demand. The shop may go under, but my toolbox is on wheels and I can always find new employment.
I’m not saying it’s all a bed of roses. Even with all those positives, there are some negatives… and here are some of them:
1. Moonlighters! They hurt the industry, and take work away from legitimate shops. I won’t do anything outside of work. If someone asks me to work on their car, I tell them to see me at the shop during normal work hours. My off time is for me and my family… and I think people should be able to respect that. I work hard and need the rest so I can keep working hard.
2. Employers who don’t invest in their future. Training and equipment costs money, but it’s a wise investment, because good technician won’t stay where they can’t upgrade their skills or do proper procedures. I’ll do my part by volunteering my time to go to courses after hours if necessary. I’ll learn how to use the equipment properly. But I need to know that management sees the value of keeping up with the times.
3. The complainers. There is a lot of negativity in this trade. Technicians who are always complaining tend to burn out and disappear but while they’re around the make life unpleasant for the rest of us. Nothing is ever their fault. They blame everything on the boss, or the customer, or the parts. It is tiresome to listen to!
4. Inadequate service advisers. They’re on the front line and represent the shop more than any one else. They really have to know what they’re doing because a poor adviser can make us look unprofessional.
5. People who give stuff away for free! Shop owners and managers have to charge properly for my diagnosis and research time. If we give it away, we’re telling people that our skills are not valuable. Plumbers don’t work for free. Lawyers don’t work for free. Why should we? If I work for eight hours diagnosing a bus issue, we need to charge for all eight hours. My boss will tell me all he can “get away with” is four hours. Do I feel appreciated after that? No! And he’s giving away his most valuable commodity – my knowledge. It drives me crazy!
Even with all its faults, though, I still enjoy going to work every morning. I love this career and I wish more techs would say the same. They’d help convince the next generation of technicians that they’re in a great industry.
Scott Faris works at Canadian Tire in Osgoode, Ont. He is also a member of the Canadian Technician Advisory Panel.
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