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Atlantic Racing Scene

Atlantic Trucking News

Shifting gears in a bad economy!

The warm months are ahead of us as we leave this winter behind and that means a host of outdoor motorized recreation. From the auto sector we have weekend racing on tracks throughout Atlantic Canada.

Rob Alfers, Publisher, Auto Atlantic Magazine

I am writing this article just after attending the “Lindertech North” technical training weekend in Toronto. I always like to drop into this event and listen to technicians and their issues. It seems the “elite technicians” of Canada show up for this conference each year and I really value their opinion.

I was amazed how many technicians were expressing to me this year about the shops in their area that were not taking Technical and Business training seriously enough and they were not investing in high-end equipment required to do the job right. They were telling me “these guys run a break down and repair shop and just don’t get it Bob; they talk about everything as a cost and will not invest into their future; they have an excuse for everything. What do I do because their lack of professionalism reflects on our sector and marketplace which my shop is obviously part of?”

The answer I shared with each person was “Only you are responsible for the results that come out of your shop. No one else is. Today it is all about the “experience” the customer/client has while the vehicle is in the shop. You can not control what other shop owners do, only consistently send the message to them that they must get engaged with the new reality. If they so choose not to do that, then make sure your own back yard is in order at all times. Always set the example for others to follow.”

I know the frustration that is out there from the better techs and shop owners. These “other guys” who “play mechanic” will always be there. In the past I have used the term “cockroaches” . . . well it still seems to apply. They just don’t go away. They are a nuisance to deal with. Interestingly have you ever noticed that these poorly run shops are fortunate to have a spouse who works outside the business because the business can not provide enough income to look after the family and provide a great lifestyle? These shop owners buy themselves a job, and a lousy one at that, and they think they are running a business. These shop owners are contributing to the problem for our sector, certainly not providing or being part of the solution.

I encourage the better automotive shop owners and technicians to keep pressing hard in your market, that competency and professionalism is everything today. Keep blasting the message. Who cares if they criticize you for always pushing competency and professionalism? What are they pushing? Complacency and mediocrity?

Keep the talk up too with automotive parts suppliers and Associations that they also must apply pressure on the weaker shops. We are all in this together. Our actions and results collectively set the image for the consumer. If more and more shops keep raising the bar, the consumer will see the difference and more importantly “experience” the difference. I think at this time in our Aftermarket history this is the best we can do. It would be nice to have accreditation standards to open up a shop in the first place but I think that will be for the next generation to tackle.

The best we can do is through setting the best example at all times and never let our guard down. Business and technical training must be an on-going investment in the automotive service and repair industry. Budgets must be set in place each year to ensure competency is sustained. Dates must be set aside and times booked to attend the necessary functions.

No training today is a one time visit. Constant revisiting is a necessity. The reality is that in many cases over-night travel will be required to attend the right course to obtain the right knowledge. I know many shop owners that have sent their technicians to the USA for important training because it was not available in Canada.

There never is any compromise. The technicians can easily be gone for 4 or 5 days on some of these courses. I know many shop owners that have traveled great distances to enroll themselves in the necessary courses that provides the management solutions that need to be addressed. This is the level of thinking and professionalism that is required today.

To give you an example, shop management should now be planning for a minimum of 100 hours of technical training per year per technician. That is what it will take to stay up with current technology. Automotive management should also set side at least 10 days a year for up-dated management training and development as many different issues and topics must be revisited.

Equipment must be constantly reviewed and examined to ensure the right equipment is in place allowing for the right diagnosis and therefore providing the right solution. Short-cuts due to a lack of proper equipment does not serve the consumer professionally and should not be tolerated by professional automotive technicians.

Perhaps many who are reading this article may perceive that I am pushing the bubble and stirring up the waters. Well what is wrong with that? Discussions must now start to become intense as too many people have been sitting on the sidelines watching the show and neglecting their responsibility to their business and ultimately to the consumer.

Let’s talk this issue up because incredible opportunity is here today for the Aftermarket to take back market share by developing trustworthy relationships with the other consumers who have been dealing with the OE Dealerships. To retain their trust and loyalty, the Aftermarket must be very competent with each visit the consumer has with us.

Let’s fully commit to getting focused now and really start making a difference. We can do it!! And deep inside, I know you want to do it. Take one step at a time and start to make the next 365 days a real adventure in your business. And remember, if you bought it, a truck brought it!

Peter A. Nelson is the Executive Director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. He may be contacted at (506)-855-2782 or email him at:

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