Monday, May 12, 2014

The Adventures of MACH TWO – Chapter 6 by Mike Lee


(MACH TWO gets his name from the fact that while at work, he is constantly going MACH TWO with his hair on fire.)

In the continuing adventures of MACH TWO, a once mild mannered technician turned automotive shop owner, he has just run into the "Where do you find GOOD help?" problem.

Chapter Five:
Help!  Help!  I Need Qualified Employees
I Ran an Ad for Two Qualified Technicians
and Two of Mine Quit

MACH TWO just moved into new facilities and was seeking to hire a couple more Qualified Technicians.  So, he sat down and wrote an ad for qualified technicians and ran it in his local paper.  He put it in the Help Wanted – Mechanic section.  After running it for a month, he gave up.  Nothing!  No Response!

Shortly after he did this, two of the three technicians that he had working for him decided to go into business for themselves and quit.

What a mess!  He had to go back into the shop and start working on the cars himself in order to get the work out and pay the bills.  Of course, the new facilities meant there were lots of those. 

He had also just spent a bunch of money promoting his new facilities and running an introductory special right before his two employees quit.  So, his lot was full and he was backlogged on his work about a week.  The customers were also complaining that he was taking too long to get their cars back to them.

At this point he was only working half days – from 8 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock at night.  His wife was also starting to complain that he was staying at the shop too long.

I Hired My Competitor's Technicians

After trying everything he could think of he finally got desperate.  He decided to contact a couple of the technicians that worked for some other shops and see if he could hire them away.

After talking to several guys, he managed to get them to commit to come to work for him, but it was expensive.  They were being paid at the other shops as much as he was currently taking home.  Also he had previously been friendly with the owners of a couple of the shops he had hired the technicians from.  He was not really comfortable with hiring them away from the other shops, but what choice did he have?

He thought he had solved his problems, but it turned out the guys he hired were not as productive as he thought they would be.  They were also not as skilled as he thought and he was definitely overpaying them.  To make matters worse, the owners of the other shops that he hired them away from were really mad at MACH TWO and wouldn't talk to him anymore.

As the winter started to approach, business began to slow down and he knew he should let one or two of them go, but since he couldn't easily replace them, he kept them both during the winter.  This only caused him to get further and further behind on his bills.  He had the idea that if he could just hang on until the busy season, he would be all right.

Of course, when the busy season finally arrived and he looked like he was going to recover, they QUIT and went to work at somebody else's shop for MORE money.

Thumbs Mulgillicutty

MACH TWO ran another ad and he finally got two guys to show up.  They passed his now highly technical hiring test.  He held a mirror in front of their faces and found out they were breathing.  They were alive, so he hired them.  They had been working at other shops, but because it had been slow, the other shops had let them go.

After a couple of weeks, he knew why.  His comeback rate went out of sight.  These guys couldn't seem to do anything right without his help.  Everything they did alone seemed to come back, and talk about being slow!  These guys moved like they had descended from the TURTLE family.

Finally, he figured out that he was getting less done because he was spending most of his time doing their jobs.

I Am a Prima Donna and You Are Here for Me

He thought he got lucky when he found a super technician.  This guy knew how to fix anything.  He was really qualified and was a high producer.  Finally, thought MACH TWO, I am going in the right direction.  Maybe now I can start making some money.

But after a while, the honeymoon was over.  Yeah! the guy could produce and he could fix anything, that is when he showed up to work.  Talk about being unreliable.  It seemed that he was always late to work and at times didn't show up (especially when the shop was super busy).  Not too long after starting, he took a week off because he needed to help his brother move to the mountains.  After taking a week long vacation he called the shop from Florida to indicate that he had decided to take an extra week.  He was always wanting more money and threatening to quit.  What a pain in the gluteus maximus!

I Will Train Them Myself

Since he couldn't seem to find qualified help, he decided to hire a couple of guys and train them.  What a disaster!  Hey couldn't seem to learn anything, and they were creating problems faster than he could fix them.  He was getting further and further behind.  Customers were mad and upset because the cars were not being repaired in a timely manner and they had to bring them back several times.

MACH TWO's Solution

MACH TWO decided that being bigger wasn't working out.  He had more problems than he could handle and felt like the only real solution was to move to a smaller shop and go back to being a one or two man shop.  He was tired of all of the hassles and problems, and he was really tired of not making any money.

MACH TWO's Real Problem.  He lacks management skills.

1)  Because he did not know how to advertise and market for new employees, he was not successful at interesting and attracting enough prospects from his ads.  This meant that he did not attract enough of a response to find the good technicians.

2)  Because he lacks personnel evaluating skills, he was hiring the wrong guys, even when he had a choice.

3)  Because he lacks employee handling skills, he cannot seem to control and get basically good employees motivated and working for him.

4)  Because he lacks employee training skills, he tended to lose his patience with people that did not seem to learn it quickly enough.  He actually ended up doing more work because he did their jobs on top of his own.

5)  Because he lacks executive skills, he didn't know how to get his employees to do their jobs without him solving all of the problems that they couldn't solve.  So he went from being an executive back to being a mechanic.

A mechanic is a person trained to fix cars.

In order to be a top flight technician, it helps if you get the proper training and have the proper tools of the trade.

An executive is a person who knows how to run a business.  This means in order to be a top flight executive, it helps if you get the proper training in executive skills and have the proper management tools to do the job.

One of the biggest problems in the automotive industry is getting GOOD employees.  Unfortunately, most shop owners think that if they could only find a qualified technician their problems would be solved.  They are looking for a magic pill that will solve all of their problems.

Unfortunately, in order to be a really good businessman, you need to be able to attract lots of potential employees.  You also need to be able to evaluate who has the potential to be a good employee and who will probably not be a good employee.

Also needed is the ability to train new employees quickly.  You must be able to get them to do their jobs without being involved in every problem that they have.  They must learn to solve their own problems.  You also need to get them motivated and working as a team.

A shop owner needs to run a good organization that retains good employees and gets rid of those that are not team players.  If a shop owner lacks training or ability in just one of these areas he is going to have problems with his employees.   This also means that both his business and sanity will suffer.  These management tools are skills that can be acquired and learned by anyone.  Unfortunately, you can't learn them while working on the cars.

Management Success!