Episode 45: Corporate

On today’s episode of Grease The Wheels, we are talking about working for the man and all that it entails. There are many corporate entities in the automotive industry such as auto groups, corporate repair shops, tire shops, etc. These are companies with a LOT of employees, and oftentimes a big number of them have nothing to do with the end products. Corporate owned dealerships have multiple levels of management that run these places, meaning that there are a lot of people in these companies that dont fix the cars. There are some major fundamental differences between the office folk and the car fixing folk that extends far beyond what they actually do for a living. Because of this there are rules being made by people who have no idea what the culture is like for the people that those rules are being applied to. At the end of the day being an auto mechanic is being in a brotherhood, and this is something that they really can’t understand. This leads to one of the major advantages that indy shops have over their corporate competition, and might just be enough to make you want to work for the indy instead of the man. Let’s be clear, there are a lot of excellent things about working for a corporation, but there are a lot of tradeoffs with things like personal liberties and the amount of times that you can say “fuck” without getting fired.

Also, Uncle Jimmy talks white collar v. blue collar responses to the zombie apocalypse, the “offended culture” and how it doesn’t play well with this listenership, and details his candidate for “The Worst Car Ever Made!”

Episode 44: Tool Guys

Good Tool guys are hard to find and much like us technicians, they all have different personalities and levels of commitment to their job. First off, it is hard work and no one is getting rich selling tools off of a tool truck. Then you get to add the tremendous cost of doing business and constantly having issues with their trucks (insert joke about fixing it for $50/week for 20 years) As a technicians we should support the good ones and help them out a bit. Also we get into an interesting theory about brand loyalty- that it shouldn’t be an umbrella loyalty to all things (your tool brand here) but rather to the actual tools that do the job every single time. We also recount some of the awkward times when the stuff that comes off the tool truck is better than the tools the manufacturer gives you to do the job.

Uncle Jimmy talks about what tool guys and techs have in common: dogs, guns, and beer and gives a lesson in metallurgy when it comes to cheap brake line benders.

Episode 43: Help Wanted

It is a simple and pretty well established fact that there are a lot more jobs available for mechanics, technicians, and every other assorted automotive service worker than there are people to fill them. Because of that there are a LOT of job postings, but often times there are a lot of reasons why they have so many openings. This gets compounded when we are talking about job postings at indy’s, because you’re going to be working on EVERYTHING. With that being said, even if you like you job you should ALWAYS be looking for a better one- because we are in very short supply and the demand is very high. Yet, somehow, no one talks about the elephant in the room- what they are going to pay you.

Also Uncle Jimmy talks about accidentally setting up a co-worker with a competitor that has an almost perfect pay scale for their factory trained technicians and gives a mechanics view on the breakdown of “cost of living”.

Episode 42: Dispatchers

In one way or another, all of us have some form of a dispatcher who doles out what we’re working on for the day. Human dispatchers have human downsides such as playing favorites and are at the mercy of customers. However good dispatchers can read a shops technicians skill levels and keep the work flowing efficiently. Make yourself available to the dispatcher for the stuff that needs to get done that no one wants to do- they will throw you a bone. On the other side of the dispatcher equation, you would think that an electronic RO system would be harder to mess with, however experience would say that there even easier to fuck with than the human kind. Also, Uncle Jimmy explains spontaneous human combustion and price fixing collusion by dealers.

Episode 41: For The New Guys

As the title would suggest, this is an episode for the new guys, instead of about the new guys, so if you’re just starting out you might want to pay attention here. First off, as much as a good tech school can teach you about fixing cars, it really can’t teach you a lot about how to get along with the other people who are going to be in your shop also fixing cars. One good rule of thumb is to have a solid attitude, because without fail you can learn SOMETHING from just about everyone in your shop. Some of the tips, tricks, shortcuts you can pick up from your fellow techs can make your life easier and make it possible to turn way more hours, thus making you more money. Also, no matter how much you know you need to be ready for a certain amount of hazing, and how you respond to this will go a long way to shaping your fellow techs perception of you. However, don’t let anyone give you a hard time about tools because as you grow as a technician and get put on more complicated jobs you will undoubtedly build up a sizable and well rounded toolbox.

Also Uncle Jimmy talks snowflakes, and blowing 30k on the tool truck as a lube tech being only a slightly worse investment than a Greek accountant.

Episode 40: Your Own Business

A simple show of hands will tell that many of us someday wish to own our own shop. This is a very solid and attainable goal for many of us as we move through our careers- because it doesn’t take 30 years in the field to realize that whatever the shop charges is usually several times the labor rate that they are paying you. However, while it can be very lucrative, especially if you find a profitable niche market early on, you will find that you are quickly doing less of the ‘fixing of cars’, and more of the ‘everything else besides fixing cars’. In this episode we outline some of the things that skilled techs should take into consideration before you pull the trigger on going out on your own. Partnering with people who can help you run things will let you do more work in the shop and drastically increase your chances of success. At the end of the day, as technicians we are not afraid of hard work, so going out on our own is a pretty damn good option.

Also, we don’t really have a funny Uncle Jimmy one liner because this is actually a fairly straightforward and helpful episode…for once. Weird.

Episode 39: Reputation

In an industry such as ours, reputation is almost everything. Your ability and attitude from the first day you roll into a shop determines your reputation, and it really is entirely up to you to foster. The goldilocks zone for your reputation is being a decent human being who can fix cars well. The worst case is being an asshole that can’t fix a sandwich. The grey areas are being a good tech that is an asshole, and a nice guy who isn’t a good tech. Additionally, your reputation as a technician can be determined by the quality of the technicians around you- if a shop has bad technicians, the shop becomes a sub-par shop. As we have seen countless times, shops hiring bad technicians to replace good ones is the fastest way for that shop to grenade their reputation. This is because of the simple fact that no one operates in a vacuum anymore, as customers will check reviews of shops before taking their cars to them. With the high turnover rates of some shops, your reputation can spread a lot further than you might want it to, and might be a major asset when it comes time to Grease the Wheels.

Also Uncle Jimmy talks about getting cockblocked by Manny, Moe and Jack.

Episode 38: Simple Truths

On this week’s GTW, we are talking a short run down of some of the simple truths of working in the automotive industry. Just because a problem is simple doesn’t mean that it can’t be catastrophic. There is never a good time for a breakdown, and customers are going to be annoying about it (unfortunately for them, our cars typically work and we can get home just fine). Also we talk about the Product Life Cycle of cars, and that cars are not meant to last forever. At the end of the day the mechanic is rarely the bad guy that various media and prevailing cautionary tales make us out to be. Also we talk how annoying it is when customers give service advisors gifts around the holidays and that cars are not the most important thing in life in the bigger picture. Also Uncle Jimmy talks about Volvo people and breaks the first two rules of Fight Club.

Episode 37: Used Car Guys

On this week’s GTW, we are talking the cheapest customers that you are ever going to get in your shop- the used car guys (and that’s a big statement considering our stance on working on your family’s cars). They are 100% about the profit and do not want to fix ANYTHING which leads to a lot of wire ties, duct tape, cutting rotors and other assorted “temporary fixes”. With a mantra of “buy low, sell high” even courtesy items such as oil changes are ignored in the name of the all mighty dollar. Be wary of these people, and if they want you to do substandard repairs tell them to go somewhere else- because at the end of the day they will shift the blame on a broken car to the guy who “fixes” them. Also, Uncle Jimmy talks about his favorite cryptids: Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and virtuous used car guys. More importantly, we want to hear about some of your dealings with used car guys, because everyone has a story about this!

Episode 36: Customers Say the Darnedest Things…

On this week’s GTW, we’re talking some of the hilarious, ignorant, and ill-informed things that customers say and do. From the completely clueless, to the people who are pumped full of internet “knowledge”- customers often say things about their vehicles and do things to their vehicles that are beyond logic. Sometimes they think their car is broken when it’s working perfectly fine, but more often than not they think their car is fine when its about 4 seconds from detonation. We also revisit dash cams on cars that we are working on and some of the major pitfalls that come with proprietary information, test drives, and judging customers based on how they take care of (or more likely a lack thereof) their vehicles. Also, Uncle Jimmy talks valve cover gaskets that look like the Exxon Valdez and cost almost as much to repair. More importantly, we want to hear about some of the things customers have said to you!