Ratchet+Wrench - November 2023

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THE 10% SOLUTION While 90% of shop owners are men, Hannah Kennedy says womenowned shops bring a different flair to the auto care industry.

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VO LU M E 11 N U M B E R 11





What you can learn from a restaurant that specializes in poor service

Black Hills Tire’s summer camp introduces youths to automotive


Schearer’s Sales & Service, Inc., Allentown, Pennsylvania


Finding the middle ground between past and present management styles JOE MARCONI


Is it time to think about creating EV safety guidelines for your team?


Setting clear expectations using well-worded job descriptions


Getting excited about new talent coming into the industry A ARON STOKES





Hannah Kennedy of Kennedy Auto Solutions photographed by Rachel Ko

Four women—two shop owners and two advocacy group leaders—discuss their role in automotive, and why women are finding solid ground and acceptance in an industry that’s been historically male. BY CHRIS JONES

Ratchet+Wrench (USPS 9957), (ISSN 2167-0056) is published monthly 12 times per year by Endeavor Business Media, LLC. 1233 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, WI 53538. Periodicals postage paid at Fort Atkinson, WI, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ratchet+Wrench, PO Box 3257, Northbrook, IL 60065-3257. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Publisher reserves the right to reject non-qualified subscriptions. Subscription prices: $90.00 per year (U.S.A. only). All subscriptions payable in U.S. funds. Send subscription inquiries to Ratchet+Wrench, PO Box 3257, Northbrook, IL 60065-3257. Customer service can be reached toll-free at 877-382-9187 or at ratchetwrench@omeda.com for magazine subscription assistance or questions. Printed in the USA. Copyright 2023 Endeavor Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopies, recordings, or any information storage or retrieval system without permission from the publisher. Endeavor Business Media, LLC does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any person or company for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in the material herein, regardless of whether such errors result from negligence, accident, or any other cause whatsoever. The views and opinions in the articles herein are not to be taken as official expressions of the publishers, unless so stated. The publishers do not warrant either expressly or by implication, the factual accuracy of the articles herein, nor do they so warrant any views or opinions by the authors of said articles.

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EDITORIAL CONTENT DIRECTOR Matt Hudson EDITOR Chris Jones ASSISTANT EDITOR Kacey Frederick CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Joe Marconi, Aaron Stokes, Tess Owings, Alison Johnson EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD John Miller, Fifth Gear Automotive; Doug Grills, AutoStream Car Care Center; Jimmy Alauria, 3A Automotive Service; Andrew Marcotte, American Pride Automotive; Bruce Howes, Atlantic Motorcar Center; Rob Choisser, Choisser Import Auto Services; Lucas Underwood, L&N Performance Auto Repair; Ryan Hillebrand, Urb’s Garage SALES ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Andrew Johnson / ajohnson@endeavorb2b.com ASSOCIATE SALES DIRECTOR Mattie Gorman-Greuel / mgorman@endeavorb2b.com DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Cortni Jones / cjones@endeavorb2b.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES (NATIONAL ACCOUNTS) Diane Braden / dbraden@endeavorb2b.com Darrell Bruggink / dbruggink@endeavorb2b.com Marianne Dyal / mdyal@endeavorb2b.com Chad Hjellming / chjellming@endeavorb2b.com Lisa Mend / lmend@endeavorb2b.com Michael Parra / mparra@endeavorb2b.com Martha Severson / mseverson@endeavorb2b.com Kyle Shaw / kshaw@endeavorb2b.com Sean Thornton / sthornton@endeavorb2b.com ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Ryan McCanna ART AND PRODUCTION ART DIRECTOR Emme Osmonson PRODUCTION MANAGER Mariah Straub AD SERVICES MANAGER Jen George ENDEAVOR BUSINESS MEDIA, LLC CEO Chris Ferrell PRESIDENT June Griffin CFO Mark Zadell COO Patrick Rains CRO Reggie Lawrence CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER Jacquie Niemiec CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE AND LEGAL OFFICER Tracy Kane EVP ENDEAVOR BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Paul Mattioli EVP TRANSPORTATION Kylie Hirko VICE PRESIDENT - VEHICLE REPAIR GROUP Chris Messer HOW TO REACH US ENDEAVOR BUSINESS MEDIA 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104 tel 651.224.6207 fax 651.224.6212 web endeavorbusinessmedia.com LETTERS TO THE EDITOR editor@ratchetandwrench.com Opinions expressed in Ratchet+Wrench are not necessarily those of Endeavor Business Media, and Endeavor Business Media does not accept responsibility for advertising content.

HOW MEMORABLE ARE YOU? Sometimes leaving an impression is about what you do, other times it’s about who you are BY CHRIS JONES

I recently heard about a chain of restaurants called Dick’s Last Resort. It

built a reputation on what the restaurant coins as being “socially unacceptable.” Patrons are fitted with white, handmade paper hats covered with offensive insults. The servers are intentionally rude, and the customers love it! Dick’s has taken a negative perception of restaurants—bad service— and made it their unique selling proposition, which works! As a result, scores of people take pride in being humiliated by a Dick’s server. The auto care industry fights a negative outside perception of its own when it comes to women. Our feature “Torchbearers: Women Blazing the Trail in Auto Care” makes the case that automotive careers are suited for women. You’ll meet Michelle Tansey, of Euro Clinic, and Hannah Kennedy, of Kennedy Auto Solutions. Each shares their perspective on being women in the industry and the contributions they’ve made in the shop and beyond. We also have a pair of women’s advocacy group spokespersons—Jessica Toliuszis of Women in Auto Care and Tiffany Scherado of Amazing Women in Automotive—to talk about why womenspecific groups matter in the upward mobility of women in the industry. As the tech shortages grow and women continue to be primary shop consumers, the industry is in an opportunistic position to change those perceptions and open its arms to women who can humanize the business and in doing so, drive more individuals like themselves through the doors and into the offices and bays.


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‘I WANNA DO THIS WHEN I GROW UP’ How Black Hills Tire launched an auto summer camp for kids BY KACEY FREDERICK

There are many ways for a business to give back to its local community, and

the best ways provide not only memorable events but also inspire others and change perceptions of the auto industry. This year, Black Hills Tire of Rapid City, South Dakota, set out to do just that. Camp DRIVE, a two-day automotive camp for kids ages 12 through 15, was launched to teach kids about automotive maintenance and to meet professionals in the field. Tenise Chapman, co-owner of Black Hills Tire, alongside her husband, Weston Chapman, shared with Ratchet+Wrench how this project came to life and the impact it had on Rapid City youth.

An Ambitious Idea

The idea was conceived after Chapman’s staff attended a six-month leadership class on the east side of the state. She wondered why such an event did not exist in her

region and began to consider launching something similar. “And I said, ‘Wait a second, we need to do something for kids!’ Like, we love kids, we don’t have our own kids and we’re always talking about how we need to grow the industry,” Chapman recalls. Like a sports, music or science camp, Chapman wanted to create one that would let kids learn about and perform automotive work. Black Hills Tire has many young employees, so Chapman asked her staff if they thought they would have been interested in something like Camp DRIVE at an early age. Not only did her staff think it was a good idea, they were fully on board to help. Chapman had five sessions ranging around 30 minutes, each taught by a staff member to rotating groups of children: a brake session, an electrical session, a

tire session, a suspension session and an engine session. “I loved teaching the kids!” says staff member Adrian Cox on his experience being the instructor for the alignment sessions. “Being able to teach skills like that to a group of younger kids whose parents may not have the time/mechanical knowledge to teach them at home was really fulfilling!” Chapman’s staff implored her to see if a popular automotive YouTuber and instructor named Paul “Scanner” Danner would be interested in attending Camp DRIVE. Though Danner is in Pennsylvania, when he learned more about Camp DRIVE, he was eager to be involved. He agreed to travel to South Dakota in exchange for the Chapmans renting him a camper to visit Badlands National Park with his son. “I found that it’s an event for young 11. 2 3 / R + W / 9

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kids—11 to 15-year-olds—to get them involved in and interested in the automotive field, and I had not seen anything like this done before by anyone, and there’s not too many people that are doing something like this,” recounts Danner. “I said, ‘I gotta be here, I need to be part of it.’” Black Hills Tire also has a strong relationship with the local police department, which would come to speak at Camp DRIVE. The National Guard also agreed to come and discuss careers in the organization for automotive technicians.

The Surprising Launch

After around a year of planning, Camp DRIVE was announced this past January, but sign-ups were not open until April. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re putting all this work into this, my staff is doing such a good job at creating these fun, hands-on sessions for these kids–what if we don’t have any kids sign up?’ That was my biggest fear. I was just terrified,” Chapman says with a laugh.


Auto care news

where you need it, when you want it. 10 / R + W / 11. 2 3

She now finds the memory amusing, knowing now that once sign-ups were open, she would immediately be overloaded with applications to attend Camp DRIVE. Though she feared they could not even meet the set threshold of 25 kids, they received over twice that with 57 applicants. As the kids progressed through the sessions, Chapman could see they were having fun and were interested in learning how they could do this as a career someday. After seeing the success of Camp DRIVE and the smiling faces it brought, Chapman hopes not only to accept more kids next year but also to create a Camp DRIVE for older teens that will go more in-depth and connect them with trade schools and career opportunities. “I was walking around during Camp DRIVE … and this one kid goes, ‘Do you know what you want to do when you grow up?’ And the other kid goes, ‘This–I want to do this!’ And the other kid goes, ‘Me too, this is so cool,’” remembers Chapman.

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UAF Designates WiAC as Gold Lifetime Trustee Women in Auto Care (WiAC) has been made a Gold Lifetime Trustee for the University of the Aftermarket Foundation (UAF), according to a press release. The status of Gold Lifetime Trustee is given to donors who have shown exceptional support for UAF and its mission of providing aftermarket education. Following the announcement, WiAC Chair Jessica Toliuszis will continue to represent WiAC on the UAF board of trustees. “We (WiAC) grow female employment with scholarships, funneling the pipeline of talent and closing the technician shortage. We improve female retention in the industry through our pillars of Education, Engagement, Advocacy and Influence,” stated Toliuszis. “Partnering with the UAF has given Women in Auto Care a wide pool of candidates and provided the path to grants exceeding $1.5MM in scholarships and tools provided to women.”

Maine Representative Opposes Right-to-Repair Referendum, Cites Security Risk Maine state representative and House co-chair of the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, Tiffany D. Roberts, has come out in opposition to an upcoming right-to-repair referendum, Central Maine reports. Though Roberts supports the idea behind the right-to-repair movement, she has argued that shops are already offered the data they need for repairs and that the agreement between the Automotive Service Association, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation has effectively addressed any issues with data access. One of the issues Roberts has with the upcoming referendum–Question 4–is cybersecurity. The legislation suggests, according to her, creating an independent entity within state government and a standardized access 12 / R + W / 11. 2 3

platform with remote access for third parties to access information. Additionally, Roberts voiced concerns over liability being transferred from manufacturers over to the state of Maine and that it would violate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s cybersecurity best practice policy. Roberts concludes by suggesting that alternatives that could help the right-to-repair movement should be explored and urged others to oppose Question 4 on November’s ballot.

Auto Shop Named Finalist for ‘America’s Top Small Business Award’ A family-owned automotive shop in Tulare, California, has been named a preliminary finalist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘America’s Top Small Business Award,’ the Sun-Gazette reports. Frank’s Automotive was recommended by Tulare Chamber of Commerce CEO Donnette Silva Carter for the award, who cited the shop’s involvement with the community and its history as a multigenerational business. On September 21, Frank’s Automotive was announced as one of 70 preliminary finalists for its America’s Top Small Business Award, which analyzes businesses based on community engagement, business growth, innovative strategies and ability to overcome challenges. The business has had roots in the Tulare community since 1960 when it was first opened by Frank Daniels Sr. as a gas station. In the 1970s, a facility solely for auto service and repairs was built next to the gas station. When Frank sold the business to his son and current owner Andy Daniels in 1992, it transitioned into only performing general automotive service. In the last 12 years or so, Andy has focused more on developing his skills as a leader and business owner, and his business’s work with marketing and creating a new website this past year is part of what made his shop a preliminary finalist. The shop has also been commended in the past for treating its staff well and for its community involvement.

“It’s just a privilege to work here and to serve here with the people that we have,” stated Andy. “I hold it as a high honor for all of us. It’s not just me; it’s the team.”

Precision Tune Partnership Saves Auto Shop from Closing An auto care business in West Columbia, South Carolina, that was set to close its doors is now announcing its reopening, Cola Daily reports. Ricky’s Tire & Auto Center, located at 1534 Sunset Boulevard, is owned by Ricky Branham and has been in operation for the past seven years now. After experiencing bouts of hardship that he could not recover from, Branham announced last month that the store would be officially closing for business. Branham was beginning to explore other opportunities for him to earn money so he could pay his bills. Being a pastor who regularly preaches, he was praying for a miracle to come along during this time. When Branham received a phone call from someone with Precision Tune Auto Care saying that they wanted to partner with him. At first, Branham couldn’t believe it—he thought it was a joke. After Branham met with his Precision Tune partner, Chad Bechtel, he quickly realized it was anything but a joke. Less than 60 days after announcing the end of his business, he is now planning for it to reopen in late October, operating from the same location. A new service writer has already been hired, and Branham is working to secure as many of his original staff as he can. Though the store will reopen under the Precision Tune Auto Care brand name, Branham assures his customers they will be met with the same quality of friendly service. With Precision Tune’s support, Branham now has the resources of a corporation that has allowed him to persevere. “I know it’s a Godsent blessing,” said Branham. “It just does my heart so good that I get the opportunity to help people again; I just can’t believe it. It’s like a dream.”

Federated Members Advocate for REPAIR Act Members and executives with Federated Auto Parts traveled to Washington D.C. in September to discuss the REPAIR Act with senate and congressional personnel at Capitol Hill, according to a press release. Ashlee Arnold, vice president of Arnold Oil Company of Austin, met with the legislative staffs of Texas Representatives John Carter, Lloyd Doggett and Chip Roy and staff members for Senator John Cornyn’s office. “All the meetings felt productive, and I was impressed with the amount of knowledge and time the staffers put into understanding our concerns,” said Arnold. “One staffer said, ‘So if this doesn’t pass, my dad would no longer be able to fix my car as he did when I was young, correct?’” Meanwhile, Cliff Hovis of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply was speaking with Pennsylvania Representatives Madeleine Dean and Mike Kelly and Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman. The congressmen hadn’t signed on yet to HR906 but showed interest, with Representative Kelly having previously toured one of Hovis’s distribution centers. Though the bill hasn’t been introduced in the Senate yet, both senators also expressed interest in the legislation. Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Member Relations Mike Allen, Federated CIO Marc Pappas and Tom Bradley of Fisher Auto Parts all met with Virginia Representatives Ben Cline and Bob Good and staff members for Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Representatives Gerry Connolly, Morgan Griffith, Bobby Scott and Jennifer Wexton. “Our time was well spent with lawmakers furthering the cause of consumer choice,” Allen said.

ASE Promotes ADAS Specialist Certification Test The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is promoting its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Specialist Certification

test (L4) and the opportunity it can provide for repair shops, according to a press release. The test serves to identify technicians who are capable of performing work on vehicles equipped with ADAS and connecting them with shops performing ADAS work. Technicians who complete the L4 ADAS Specialist Certification test have demonstrated knowledge of how to diagnose, service and calibrate ADAS on late-model automobiles, SUVs and light-duty trucks. Actions covered in the test include diagnosis, service, and calibration of radar, camera, ultrasonic and other ADAS functions. Most test questions will be in reference to a sample vehicle with commonly seen ADAS technology. To take the test, technicians must have completed either the Automobile Electrical/Electronic Systems (A6) or Collision Mechanical and Electrical Components (B5) test beforehand.

REPAIR Act Discussed During Congressional Hearing The U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee had a hearing in September involving discussions around the REPAIR Act, where different groups in the automotive industry were present to make their voices heard. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) released details on Board of Directors Chairman Scott Benavidez’s testimony to the subcommittee during a hearing titled “Proposals to Enhance Product Safety and Transparency for Americans.” Benavidez argued that an earlier agreement made with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) will ensure that independent shops maintain access to the data they need to operate on newer vehicles, and effectively “nullifies the need for the REPAIR Act.” “Newer vehicle technologies, with an increasing number of sensors, will present challenges to our shops without access to repair data,” said Benavidez. “That is why, in July of this year, ASA proudly announced it had reached

a landmark agreement with automakers that ensures independent repair shops can diagnose and repair their customers’ vehicles without hindrance from telematics nor any other innovation.” The agreement Benavidez is referencing has been met with great criticism from Right to Repair advocates, who have claimed the agreement does not sufficiently guarantee access to that data. Also present at the hearing were proponents of the REPAIR Act, such as CAR Coalition Executive Director Justin Rzepka, who argued that the REPAIR Act will help maintain affordable car repairs and freedom of choice, according to a press release. Also speaking in support of the REPAIR Act was bill co-sponsor Representative Diana Harshbarger, REPAIR Act lead sponsor Representative Neal Dunn, Representative Lori Trahan and Subcommittee Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky. “The REPAIR Act allows the free market to work by prohibiting competition-busting barriers that vehicle manufacturers use to protect their competitive advantage,” argued Kathleen Callahan, owner of Xpertech Auto Repair. “It will guarantee that our shops, chosen by the vehicle owner, can access the data they need to safely diagnose and repair vehicles today and in the future.

AutoOps Appoints New Head of Sales Strategy Online scheduling software provider AutoOps has announced an addition to its executive team, according to a press release. Todd Westerlund has been appointed as AutoOps’ Head of Sales Strategy. According to AutoOps Co-Founder Steven Fafel, the new perspective Westerlund offers will help the company to grow and enhance its services. Bringing three decades of experience in the automotive field, Westerlund’s motivation for joining the company was to work with its innovative products and ambitious plans for the future, as well as its status as a familyowned business. 11. 2 3 / R + W / 13

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“The humble, family-owned culture of AutoOps was an absolutely perfect fit for me and my own family,” Westerlund said. “Staying humble and familyoriented is incredibly important to me.”

ASE Opens Fall Testing Registration The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has opened the fall registration period for ASE testing and recertification, according to a press release. Those who register before the December 31 deadline will have a 90-day window to schedule an appointment for their chosen ASE tests. Three methods of test-taking are available. There is in-person testing, which is offered for all tests throughout the year on days, nights and weekends for over 450 Prometric test centers. For those with unexpired automobile certifications, the ASE renewal app may be used for recertification. The third option is ProProctor remote testing, which may used for all recertification tests, excluding excluding L1 and L2 tests. Registration for a test may be done through ASE’s website by logging in, locating the desired tests in the online store, and completing the transaction.

Christian Brothers Automotive Holds Ninth Annual Conference Christian Brothers Automotive recently held its ninth annual Mastering the Difference Conference in Houston, Texas, according to a press release. The conference is an event for Christian Brothers Automotive technicians and service team members from across the country to come together. Keynote speakers at the event included David Salyers, who does marketing for Chick-fil-A; Bogi Lateiner, a master technician and host of the All Girls Garage TV series; and Pastor Jason Robinson of the Church of the King. Attendees at the event provided support for a service project known as “Feed the Hunger,” which provides food and nutrition to malnourished children. More than 75,600 meals were 14 / R + W / 11. 2 3

packaged at the event by attendees to benefit the cause. Awards were presented at the event as well, with Megan Roan, business development officer for Christian Brothers Automotive Rude-Snow and Weatherford, receiving the Lighthouse award for making a meaningful impact in her community. William Link, a technician at Christian Brothers Automotive Virginia Beach, was also recognized for having earned an Auto Care Association/ ASE World Class Technician Certification–an achievement that only 2,000 individuals have earned since 1986. “The Mastering the Difference conference is a great opportunity for our brand to come together, strengthen relationships and learn from industry professionals,” said Christian Brothers Automotive CEO and President Donnie Carr. “This year’s conference not only showcased our commitment to excellence in the automotive space but also highlighted the importance of community and camaraderie.”

Stellantis Building Second EV Battery Plant in Indiana Stellantis will be building its second U.S. electric vehicle battery plant in Kokomo, Indiana, the Detroit Free Press reports. The automaker is already having a similar battery plant built in Kokomo, as well, as part of joint ventures with South Korea-based Samsung SDI. This new plant–called the StarPlus Energy plant– requires another investment of $3.2 billion, bringing the total investment for both plants to $6.3 billion. StarPlus Energy is expected to create 1,400 jobs when it begins production in 2027. The first initial plant is expected to open by the first quarter of 2025. Plans for this new plant come amidst ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers union. Though it isn’t clear that there is any connection to negotiations, EV battery plants have been a topic of concern for unions, who want to ensure workers are treated fairly throughout the transition to EVs. “The BEVs coming to our North America brands play an important role in our drive to offer clean, safe and af-

fordable mobility for all and achieve the bold goal of carbon net zero by 2038,” stated Mark Stewart, chief operating officer for Stellantis North America.

KYB Names New Product Manager Guna Sathyamurthy has been promoted to product manager for KYB Americas Corporation’s U.S. and Canadian operations. Sathyamurthy, who earned a degree in economics from Butler University and in mechanical engineering from Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis, started with KYB straight out of college. Over the last several years, Sathyamurthy has worked as an assistant product manager in the expansion of the Strut-Plus and Truck-Plus categories. In his new role, he will continue to guide those product lines along with all other KYB product offerings. “I’ve enjoyed being a part of the growing KYB team. I’m very excited for the opportunity to be a member of the strong group that is poised to lead KYB into the future,” he said. “We plan to significantly expand our product line offerings and drastically increase our market coverage.”

Virginia Automotive Students Gift Car to Single Mom Michelle Mendez, a single mother of six living in Virginia, was surprised when local automotive students gifted her a car. For the past year, the students have taken on the project to help Mendez, who says the gift is like a weight taken from her shoulders. “They’ve really been helping me to get this car. It’s just been hard,” Mendez told WDBJ News. “I really appreciate everything to make this happen.” Rappahannock Electric Cooperative awarded Giving Words, an organization founded by Eddie Brown and his wife, $10,200 to help get the car. “The component that I look at is just the hope, and just seeing that in her eyes as she received this car and just the excitement - and what it means for her boys, too,” Brown said.


5 Signs that You Need an Auto Shop Business Coach By Charlene Parlett, ATI Executive Coach & Speaker

Considering a business coach? You're not alone! The concept of coaching is no longer confined to athletes and performers; it has evolved to cater to anyone seeking personalized solutions and support to unleash their full potential. Surprisingly, this includes a growing number of auto shop owners who are reaping the benefits of coaching. If you're an auto shop owner grappling with any of the following top 5 challenges, a business coach could be the game-changer you need: Financial Struggles If your income as a shop owner is less than what you could potentially earn working for someone else, it's time to seek guidance. Overwhelming Responsibility Are you stuck at the shop from opening to closing time every day because you lack confidence in your employees' ability to handle daily operations? A coach can help you develop a more efficient and independent team. Work-Life Imbalance When was the last time you enjoyed a proper vacation or attended significant family and friends' events? If years have passed, a business coach can assist in creating a work-life balance that ensures personal happiness and success. Uncertain Future You might have no idea about your business's actual value or what would happen to it and your family if you were unable to work. A coach can help you assess the worth of your business and plan for unforeseen circumstances. Stagnation and Lack of Knowledge Feeling stuck in first gear with no clue how to progress? A business coach can provide valuable insights, reveal blind spots, and equip you with the knowledge to propel your auto shop forward. So, if you're considering an auto shop coach, take the next step by requesting more information. With the right guidance, you can overcome obstacles, unlock your potential, and steer your auto shop towards greater success and profitability.

J U M P S TA R T / N U M B E R S


The average female shop owner in the 2023 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey Report is between the ages of 30 and 49 and became a shop owner in her 30s. She has approximately two decades of industry experience which most likely includes work as a service advisor or an administrative staff member—though nearly as

many have entered without prior experience. Three-quarters are independent repair shop owners with an additional 20% running multishop operations. Most of their shops are between 5,000 and 9,999 square feet with 3-6 bays and lifts. They employ 5-8 team members. Here’s

where you’ll find their shops.

*Survey sample size: 411

16% Northeast

40% West

20% Midwest

24% South

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SCHEARER’S SALES & SERVICE, INC A look inside of this 7,000-square-foot Allentown, Pennsylvania, auto repair shop owned by Thomas R. Schearer Jr. BY C H R I S J O N E S | P H O T O S BY A L A N SY LV E S T R E M E D I A , L LC

Thomas Shearer started as a technician at age 23. He nearly quit the industry altogether after a bad experience as a dealership technician. That was before a meeting with an old boss, Ken Miller, whom he worked for as a teenager. Miller offered him the opportunity to work in the office instead of the shop, and years later, Shearer purchased Ken Miller Auto Sales, rebranding the shop in the process to the name it has today— Schearer’s Sales & Service, Inc.

STEP INTO THE SHOWROOM Since Shearer still sells cars, the front lobby looks like a showroom and features some of Shearer’s “toys” as he calls them. There’s a counter in front where his customer service representative is posted up and a pair of service advisors sit behind—one at a desk and another in an office next door. Down the hall past the service office is the entrance to the shop and the parts room is off to the right. Across the hall is a small technician’s office.

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HAVE AN OUTSTANDING SHOP? Send a few photos and a brief description to submissions@ ratchetandwrench. com and we might feature it here.

“It’s a 6-by-6 office where we store all of the high-value diagnostic tools. We have a lot of OE equipment and diagnostic tooling. It’s a nice area for our technicians to talk. Whether it’s a customer or tech support, they can sit in a quiet area,” Shearer says. SCHEARER’S SALES & SERVICE, INC Owner: Thomas R. Schearer Jr. Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania Staff Size: 12 Shop Size: 7,000 square feet Number of Lifts/Bays: 8 Average Monthly Car Count: 225 Annual Revenue: $2.3 million ($2.95 projected for 2023)

A PEEK INSIDE SHOP The shop is sectioned off by work performed. There’s a truck bay in the front and to the left of that a flush-mount alignment lift. Off to the right is a tire mounting and balancing station followed by a row of six lifts down the right side. “(The lifts) are all in-ground twin post lifts. Two new lifts are being installed right now; they just poured the concrete,” he says. The shop has a distinct focus on European makes and Shearer’s technicians are highly-trained specialists in these vehicles. “We have technicians who are trained/specialize in Mercedes, Porsche/ Audi/VW and BMW/Mini/Jaguar/LandRover. We also have factory tooling for them: PIWIS III for Porsche, XENTRY for Mercedes, ISTA for BMW and ODIS for Audi/VW,” Shearer says. 11. 2 3 / R + W / 19



Perhaps a Little “Old School” is Needed These Days Though the approach to work has changed, the heart of it doesn’t have to

In the spring of 1976, I landed a job as a

technician in a small two-bay gas station in the northeast section of the Bronx, New York. This was four years before I opened my own repair shop. On my first day, during a coffee break, Randy, the shop owner, pulled me aside and said, “Joe, it’s your first day here, so I need to tell you something. There are three ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way and my way. You do things my way and we’ll get along just fine.” Now, it’s important to mention that Randy was part of the World War II generation, and his version of “onboarding”, while it may appear harsh by today’s standards, was said partly in jest. His statement, however, did set a tone for the way things were. It was a message that “we” the elders have proven ourselves, and now it’s time for you to prove yourself. Randy was big on team spirit and hard work. He would often preach, “We work as a team, and I expect you to work hard. Don’t complain about the cold in the winter or the heat in the summer, I can’t control that.” Again, tough words, but not mean words. We understood that he realized how difficult this business is, and it was his job to ensure we could endure it. With just two bays and three technicians, the workspace was tight. If a job needed to be done, Randy would not hesitate and tell me to get a few jack stands and work outside, even in the winter months. His days growing up in hard times and as an Army sergeant still echoed in his actions, decisions and values. Randy was proud of the career he chose in the auto industry and wanted us to be proud, too. He willingly shared his 2 0 / R + W / 11. 2 3

knowledge and experience. He also told stories of growing up during the Great Depression and his time serving as a combat soldier in Europe during WWII. But there were certain things that he would not tolerate. For example, being late for work. Randy made it clear that being late was the height of disrespect for not just the company you work for but for your fellow workers. Randy not only taught us automotive mechanics, but he also taught us the mechanics of life. If you’re thinking I want to go back to those times, I don’t. The past is the past, and the present is the present. However, I think we can learn from some of the old-school ways. While we often view that as back then—it was my way or the highway, for the most part—the boss was right there in the trenches with you, they never feared dishing out constructive criticism when needed, and they understood that for the shop to win, the team had to win. Today, the typical repair shop is much different, and in many ways, better. Today we have bigger shops with better working conditions. We have better tools, advanced equipment, improved training and shop owners have a better understanding of how to grow a business. But, has the shop culture improved enough over the decades? I am not so sure. If it did, why don’t we attract and retain more people in our industry, especially technicians? It may not have been a walk in the park working for Randy, but he taught me valuable life lessons that I would carry with me throughout my career. Perhaps a blend of old school and new school is what’s missing from so many of today’s leaders.



Joe Marconi has more than four decades of experience in the automotive repair industry. He is the former owner of Osceola Garage in Baldwin Place, N.Y., a business development coach for Elite Worldwide, and co-founder of autoshopowner.com. Reach him at j.marconi@eliteworldwide.com.

WE CELEBRATE WOMEN IN AUTO CARE The Leading Voice for Women in the Aftermarket

The Group supports this important organization that empowers women by encouraging the exchange of ideas among members of a diverse workforce and provides opportunities within the automotive aftermarket through education and networking.


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Women Blazing the Trail in Auto Care

The impact of women in automotive and the difference they’re making in their shops and through advocacy BY CHRIS JONES | PHOTOS BY RACHEL KO DATA S O U R C E D F R O M T H E 2 0 2 3 R AT C H E T+ W R E N C H I N D U S T RY S U R V E Y R E P O R T 11. 2 3 / R + W / 2 3


When Congress declared war on Imperial Japan and sent the Yanks into combat in 1941, women across the United States traded in their heels for work boots. Uniting under the empowering spirit of Rosie the Riveter, women flocked in droves into the industrial labor force filling jobs left by their brothers, sons and husbands. Today in the automotive aftermarket, that enterprising spirit—“We Can Do It”—lives on in the women who call this industry home. Not only are women turning wrenches, but their executive prowess is also turning heads. According to the Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey Report, sponsored by AutoZone and Mobil 1, approximately 10% of the auto care industry is female. While their number seems small, their influence is growing. Now, you’ll meet four women in the industry who recount what the automotive aftermarket means to them and how they’re leaving their mark in ways reminiscent of this generation of women who came before them.

Michelle Tansey: “We’re Long-Term Visionaries”

Michelle Tansey is a former police officer turned shop owner. She and her husband, Bernard, own EuroClinic in Santa Clara, California, where the consensus among the Silicon Valley populace is that women who own businesses are the bee’s knees. “It’s cool to them because I’m Hispanic, I’m female and I’m young,” laughs Tansey. She didn’t intend to become a shop 24 / R + W / 11. 2 3

owner. That was Bernard’s game. She was happy in law enforcement, but one day persuaded Bernard, a 20-plus-year auto industry veteran who was then working as a foreman at a Volkswagen dealership, to open his own shop. Bernard had grown frustrated with the dealership’s revolving door of managers. So, he listened. After running the shop as a side hustle, Bernard’s weekend income began to eclipse his paychecks. That’s when it got real. Tansey cashed out her pension and Bernard his 401(k) to get startup capital, and she filed paperwork for incorporation. She recalls the early days of her husband doing all the shop jobs—porter, service advisor, parts—and bringing in $13,000 per month. Today, the shop rakes in $2 million annually, and Tansey is the majority owner with a 51% stake. EuroClinic operates from a $250,000 building, and Tansey says she still laughs when remembering how much their hands trembled when they stroked a $20,000 check to get into their first shop.

Education Leads to Elevation

Tansey says her formal education—something her mother was adamant about— coupled with her law enforcement background is foundational in her business’s success. She holds a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from San Jose State University along with five minors. In the shop, she manages the front of the house and says her experience as a police officer taught her that leadership isn’t a title or a role to aspire to, but a state of mind. And coming from one predominantly male industry into another, she understands how to work with men. “It’s about coaching them to work through their weaknesses and help sell the big vision. I consider myself a visionary type of leader,” Tansey says. Being Californian, Tansey leans into the progressive spirit of the state and she takes pride in her forward-thinking leadership. One of her focuses is elevating the profile of women in the industry, starting with those in her shop. “Our manager is female, and she’s the one that runs the whole joint, and I would love to have a female tech someday,” Tansey says, adding that female techs aren’t met with enthusiasm, even in California. Through her local chamber of commerce, where she sits on the board of edu-

36% of female shop owners hold a bachelor’s degree vs. 24% of male shop owners

cational groups, Tansey aims to embody the age-old quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “(The chamber of commerce) thinks it’s great that I’m setting an example for future generations. It’s a big deal. I take that with great pride. It’s a big responsibility to lead by example,” Tansey says.

Managing by KPI and Connecting with People

Women are astute managers of data when it comes to shop management. As indicated by the findings of the 2023 Ratchet+Wrench Survey Report, women

Jessica Toliuszis “We’re Trying to Focus on Outreach to Educate the Whole Industry” Jessica Toliuszis is the chair of the leadership council for Women in Auto Care, a community of the Auto Care Association. Ratchet+Wrench caught up with Toliuszis to talk about the importance of women’s Advocacy groups in the automotive aftermarket. Ratchet+Wrench: Why do advocacy groups, like women in Auto Care, matter in the advancement of women in the automotive industry? Jessica Toliuszis: Having an industry group or association helps people collectively come together and elevate voices on a bigger grander scale. I think about the reach if you’re a small shop … you may not have many women or diverse candidates, so having an association or an industry group expands the inclusion you’re able to have in order to give somebody a best friend within a similar role at a different company to help them feel safe and included. R+W: How is Women in Auto Care preparing women for careers within the industry? Toliuszis: We have three main pillars. The first one is membership engagement. We want to make sure we’re growing the females in the population through scholarships and funneling the pipeline of talent. The second part of that is retention and that goes to education and networking. Our second pillar is education. It’s not just about educating women, but we’re trying to focus on outreach to educate the whole industry. We want to be at the forefront of what is happening in the industry and making sure we are not just providing that education to women, but providing

it and giving a voice to these women who are doing incredible, disruptive, interesting things so that everyone in the industry can benefit. The last one is advocacy and influence. While we want to highlight and empower diverse talent, we’re trying to do things like creating a speaker mentorship program in order to funnel future speakers you can interview. There are women who have incredible voices who may never have been asked to sit on the panel or give a keynote speech. We’re trying to find opportunities to level up their careers. R+W: What are some of the successes of Women in Women in Auto Care that you’re excited about? Toliuszis: Last year, we surpassed a million dollars in scholarships and tools given away and we plan to distribute more than $400,000 in tools and money this year. The tool program is really a testament to Missy Stevenson. I’m really proud of that. I’m really proud of the fact that we’re growing our volunteer base. We have more than 100 volunteers at the executive level who are influencing and driving the conversations and helping us with sponsorships and new innovative ideas around allies. R+W: How can men in the industry be more supportive of the women in this industry? Toliuszis: Put your money where your intentions are. Invest in donating to organizations that are supporting a cause or furthering the efforts of diversity. If you really have the time, invest your time in finding a mentee, somebody on your team or at your company. 11. 11.2233 / R + W / 2 5


60% of female shop owners pursue coaching vs. 41% of male shop owners

thrive on tracking KPI and using it to improve the efficiency within their shops. “I think we’re just driven by data; stuff needs to make sense,” Tansey says. “It’s easier for us to catch on and implement (data) in our day-to-day operations with our staff and share the vision with them. Data is what’s going to drive us to our next goal.” Tansey says whereas men are more connected to shop efficiency, women see the data as a metric for holistic improvements across the shop. That keen eye for

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data came in handy when she noticed the shop plateauing and explored the idea of getting a coach involved. When she brought the idea of having outside help in the business, Bernard balked but eventually relented through Tansey’s persistence and coaching became the shot in the arm the shop needed. “He didn’t understand why I thought we needed it,” Tansey says. “He said, ‘We’re going to send out money to have friends.’ I (told him) that’s not what we’re doing here. I said, we’ve plateaued, and it’s going to take longer for me to figure it out by myself unless we get coaching.” Six years ago, Tansey started networking in the industry, eventually aligning herself with Women in Auto Care. Today, she leads a female round table with two other shop owners. And even though she feels the presence of women is lacking at many industry events, it’s something she wants to change through those training meetings held online every third Thursday of the month.

“We focus solely on growing leadership skills, business skills and mindset for female shop owners who are new to the industry or who have been in the industry for a long time and want to make sure they get the chance to evolve as the industry changes,” Tansey says. While some may wonder about the necessity of women-only groups, Tansey says it’s important for women to meet separately to openly express the challenges they face in shop ownership, which differ from those men face, as well to encourage each other, bring up other young women and enhance their leadership abilities. Changing the industry as women is an all-in, multi-generational effort. “I told you, we’re long-term visionaries. We’re already prepping ahead of time. You want to prep long-term on how to better our industry, and I think genuinely, a lot of the female shop owners on my roundtable want to make a difference to make the industry better,” Tansey says. “It’s not to say, ‘Oh, there’s a bunch of fe-

males running this joint.’ It’s more to say, ‘Hey, we’re trying to bring a change.’”

Hannah Kennedy: “This Fulfills Deep Career Desires Within Me”

Hannah Kennedy has operated Kennedy Auto Solutions in Tomball, Texas, for the past six years with her husband, after coming into auto repair from commercial lending. She asserts that for many women

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Tiffany Scherado “We Just Have to Show Them What Their Strengths Are”

Tiffany Scherado, co-owner of Lifetime Transmissions is the founder of Amazing Women in Automotive, a mentoring and recruitment organization for women. Ratchet+Wrench spoke with Scherado about the value women’s advocacy groups in helping women’s careers in the automotive aftermarket. Ratchet+Wrench: What support do groups like Amazing Women in Auto-

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motive offer women in the automotive industry? Tiffany Scherado: Women are such a minority that they might be the one and only ones in the shop, so they feel a lot of pressure to become like men or act like a man. They can’t really embrace who they are and there isn’t really anybody they could talk to about the special challenges and things they face in the industry. We knew they had to have a safe space where they could talk to somebody who understood. So by bringing women together, we were able to retain them (for the industry) by giving them that support. R+W: How do you prepare young women for life in auto repair shops? Scherado: Shops are becoming more welcoming for women, so it’s getting easier to prepare them. We just have

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to show them what their strengths are. We have to show them the value they bring. Their attention to detail is so much better than their male counterparts. They always go above and beyond. So being able to show them that the automotive industry has jobs that will allow them to use their abilities prepares them for careers in the industry. R+W: What are conscious or unconscious biases women face at shops? Scherado: I think sexual harassment really looms for a lot of people. Nobody really wants to talk about it or say it out loud, but a lot of maleowned shops, mostly, are really concerned about that with having a female in the shop. I’m not saying it isn’t a legitimate concern, (but) I feel like it’s a concern that can be very easily mitigated with proper training and just making sure your shop is a pro-

fessional place to work. Sure, at the shop you may have some cuss words and things like that, but I think appropriate behavior should be expected, whether it’s with a female employee or a female customer.

73% of female shop owners send their teams to train quarterly vs. 35% of male shop owners

R+W: How do you coach women on the public perception of women in automotive and how to stand against those biases? Scherado: We always tell them to be prepared. You’re going have that customer, or whoever, walk in and tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or walk in and go, ‘I want to talk to the technician or the owner.’ (In that moment) you’re going to have to tell them, ‘Well, that’s me.’ We’re preparing them and teaching them to be confident and ready to answer those questions and speak with a customer who maybe isn’t comfortable speaking to a woman and how to overcome that.

who operate shops, a male relative—usually a father, husband or uncle—is the catalyst for their choosing careers in the automotive industry. “I see a lot of the women who enter shop ownership come from a relational connection,” Kennedy says. Kennedy, who holds a bachelor’s degree in community health education from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, says shop ownership suits her because she loves educating adults, connecting with people on a human level and improving

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Auto care news

where you need it, when you want it.

their lives. That penchant for developing people extends from her shop and into the shops of others. Throughout 2023, she’s been a coach with Elite Worldwide, working within the service advisor program and as a business performance performance analyst. Today, she focuses her attention on helping women in the industry, many of whom are like her— industry outsiders. “From the service advisor side, more often than not, the women who I see were recruited from other customer-facing jobs, whether it be working in a restaurant, or working in a convenience store or working as teachers who are ready for a change,” Kennedy says. “And so they enter the industry and become very successful in serving others and being active listeners.” One of the most interesting women she’s worked with transitioned into auto repair after a career in child welfare. “This is a social worker … and she does a phenomenal job of connecting with customers and, as a customer-facing employee, she connects with them, helps to lower their anxiety and does a great job of fact-finding and then directing them through the process of selling the repairs and walking them through getting their vehicle fixed,” Kennedy says. She says the advisor role is natural for women and many female shop owners embody those same skillsets—less technical, more empathetic—that focus on hearing the needs of customers and being relationship-oriented. Kennedy observes that women who come into ownership with a male counterpart are brought in for these reasons, which creates a solid division of labor based on compatible skills. “(Women) are coming in with business acumen, administrative skills, organizational skills and people skills. They’re typically coming in to handle the business side and oftentimes the partner is coming in to handle the technical side,” Kennedy says.

Educating Customers

Kennedy says where men customarily have a transactional view of customer relationships, women look to find nurturing connections with customers in the most human way possible with the goal of anticipating and meeting the customer’s needs.

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“For instance, if (customers) have children, (women are) going to remember to bring up the benefits of safety and the benefits of reliability and peace of mind. In the digital vehicle inspections, they’re better at asking clarifying questions, but then teaching each step of what they see with images and then explaining in a less technical way what recommendations are being made, why it’s being recommended and how it’s being fixed in a much less technical language, that benefits the customer,” Kennedy says. She says one of the challenges women face from consumers is a high trust-confidence curve. There are still customers who don’t think women are knowledgeable enough to navigate them through their auto repair journey. Kennedy sees that as an educational opportunity and doesn’t shy away from it. “Female service advisors in customerfacing roles have a little bit harder time in earning a customer’s trust that they are knowledgeable professionals who can help

them,” Kennedy says. “Often customers want to talk to the mechanic or they ask to speak to the owner.” In situations like that, Kennedy would calmly help the customer see that she was a professional the could trust and inevitably, their guard would come down. “I think that’s a hill many female service advisors have to climb. There’s a lot of extra education we have to give customers.”

Training the Team

Teaching moments also happen within the shop and Kennedy says continued improvement is a core value. She says if she expects her team to develop a conviction about education and career development, it starts at the top with her. “From a very young age in our business, we have had mentors and coaches to help us determine what we don’t know and help us prioritize what we need to do to build a strong foundation for our business and then to help it grow and thrive,” Kennedy says. “And I’m a strong believer

and you don’t know what you don’t know. And I’m OK with that.” She says her staff has training requirements and with successful completion comes incentives. She takes the time to meet with her team to learn their goals and objectives and develop a part for them to do so successfully. “The more skilled you are and can demonstrate that you’ve become more skilled, that is a value to us and we’re going to share that benefit with you with higher pay and with more opportunities to grow and lead,” Kennedy says. It’s this ability to lead, grow and nurture people to become their best that drives Kennedy. It’s a trait she says draws women into the industry and it’s one that fills a hole in the hearts of both. “This fulfills deep career desires within me of being able to make a difference in people’s lives and careers,” she says. “And to impart my hard-earned skills into other people, and continue to better our industry.”


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CREATING EV SAFETY PROTOCOLS As the industry adapts to electric vehicles, learning to protect your team using written guidelines is important BY ALISON JOHNSON

At each of McNeil’s Auto Care’s two locations in Utah, a single trained technician is currently assigned to diagnose and repair electric or hybrid electric vehicles. The system won’t change until the businesses have a high enough volume of EVs and HEVs in relation to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. That way, those two designated technicians get enough practice and experience on a regular basis to help keep them safer around high-voltage components. Whenever an EV or HEV comes into a shop, technicians also take steps to limit access to other employees. They set up bright orange road cones with hazard bars to barricade off their work bays and use lock boxes to store vehicle keys. “There’s a lot of education that needs to be done so that everyone understands the potential for danger and serious injury,” says Jake Sorensen, shop manager for McNeil’s for the past 16 years. “That’s going to be more and more important as the EV market continues to grow.” While ICE vehicles still make up the bulk of work orders at most auto shops, they are gradually losing ground to EVs and HEVs. For technicians and other employees, new or heightened risks include potentially fatal shocks, burns,

fires and unexpected vehicle lurches. In general, shop owners are only in the very early stages of considering protective clauses that might be added to future work agreements. The potential details and phrasing of such clauses also are a question mark, notes Seth Thorson, President of LMV Bavarian, a Minnesota-based automotive service that provides consulting and technical support for technicians. “Everyone is at the forefront of this,” Thorson says. “We have been meeting with employment attorneys, but I personally think it’s too early to know what we will or won’t need long-term on this.” In the meantime, shop owners, industry leaders and national safety organizations do have plenty of other advice, including: •

Make sure all technicians who work on EVs and HEVs have completed comprehensive training and certification programs so they are aware of the range of possible hazards. Shop owners or managers also should undergo such training to be available to assist with diagnostics and repairs and answer questions as needed. Emphasize the importance of read-

ing manufacturers’ service information on the specific make, model and year of a vehicle before starting a job. Those manuals will include instructions on how to properly follow safety procedures for a particular vehicle, which can vary based on type. For example, manufacturers have developed different mechanisms for disconnecting high-voltage batteries from a vehicle’s main electrical system, as well as color-coding systems to identify high-voltage cables (although those are typically orange or blue). Technicians should never rely on memory as they prepare to address a problem or handle a vehicle component, and if they aren’t sure about a step, they should consult with a manager. •

Plan out a job in advance. A “figure it out along the way” approach to servicing EVs and HEVs doesn’t work well, because a technician could fail to have the right tools and safety equipment at the ready.

Eliminate the chance of a vehicle turning on accidentally during a job. Turn off the ignition, move key fobs out of the area and wait at 11. 2 3 / R + W / 3 3

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57% 27% of shop owners who say they’ll invest in EV training and repair in the next five years

of shop owners say they expect their sales to trend toward EV service in the next five years


least 15 minutes after a battery has been disconnected to begin work. •

Invest in high-quality insulated tools and personal protective equipment for the shop. On the list: hand tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers and ratchets; heavy-duty safety gloves, face shields and hard hats; and insulated lifts. Shop owners also can purchase insulated retrieval hooks in case a technician is disabled by an electric shock. Check gloves often to ensure there are no issues such as pin holes, cracks, tears or splits that would allow for direct contact between an electrical charge and the skin. Create a facility-specific EV fire response plan. Lithium-ion battery fires can spread much more quickly than an ICE vehicle fire, as well as emit toxic fumes or even cause an explosion. Cover procedures for employees should a fire break out, from evacuation plans to the location of PPE. Frequently review and enforce safety protocols. Everyone in a shop—from porters and ICE technicians to front desk and parts department staff-

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ers–should understand that they at minimum need to get clear permission before entering a work bay with an EV or HEV present. In most cases, they shouldn’t go into that area at all.

Small Shops Αre Still Skeptical of EVs Impact According to data from Endeavor Business Intelligence, small shops (those with 1-3 bays) aren’t embracing electrification despite admitting to seeing more EVs in their shops.

Obviously, those same rules apply to customers, including the owner of the electric or hybrid vehicle in a bay. •

Research safe handling and storage of used or damaged lithium-ion batteries. Again, referring to specific manufacturer guidelines is critical. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Fire Protection Association recommend having a separate facility or zone at least 50 feet away from workspaces, other vehicles and combustible materials. That space should be temperature-controlled with a good ventilation system, as EV batteries need air movement both around and underneath them. In addition, batteries should be kept away from chemicals, electrical sources, water and areas where traffic, forklifts or other vehicles commonly pass. Full-battery replacement may require shipping old batteries in fire-protective containers to a dealership or recycling facility.

“As long as everyone takes safety seriously and follows guidelines, we can protect them,” Sorensen says. “There will be a lot of important conversations that need to happen as we move into the future.”

• 95.5% of small shops say that over the past two years, they have seen an increase in the number of battery-electric vehicles coming for service or repair. • 80.6% say they have not invested in technician training focused on repairing electric or hybrid vehicles. • 76.1% do not believe electric and hybrid vehicles will have an impact on their business within the next two years. • 65.9% say they won’t be impacted within the next 10 years.





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LOST IN TRANSLATION Avoid losing out on customers by investing in bilingual resources BY TESS OWINGS

Twenty-five million. That’s the number of people living in the United States who do not speak English, according to a 2020 article by the American Translators Association. That’s a lot of potential customers you could be missing out on if you don’t have the resources to properly communicate with them. Oscar Gomez, the director of education and founder of Master Automotive Training in California, says that when a customer can’t properly 3 6 / R + W / 11. 2 3

communicate or understand what a service advisor is telling him or her, it quickly escalates to anger or frustration and the loss of a customer. It’s not just customers, either. Many technicians speak Spanish or another language as their primary language and benefit greatly from being able to understand and express themselves clearly by using their first language. It may seem unnecessary to have someone on staff who’s bilingual or to

invest in a quality translator, but the benefits far outweigh the investment.

Backstory: Gomez founded Master Automotive Training in 2014 with the goal of bettering the automotive industry, one technician at a time. Prior to that, Gomez owned an emission testing center. “It’s all about being able to better this wonderful industry,” Gomez says

“We’re missing a whole group of people that are missing out on fundamental information”. - Oscar Gomez, director of education and founder of Master Automotive Training

of his mission in opening Master Automotive Training. “We have a bad rap, and I’m trying to fix it.” Gomez provides automotive training that helps make the industry better, and that now includes training for Spanish-speaking technicians.

Problem: “If you don’t speak the language, it’s all up in the air,” Gomez says of customers and staff that speak primarily Spanish. California, specifically, has a large Spanish-speaking population, and Gomez says shops that don’t take this into consideration are doing a disservice to themselves as business owners by missing out on customers and quality staff. Gomez has been

in plenty of shops where he’s seen firsthand how frustrated customers can get when they’re unable to communicate with anyone and many of his own students expressed frustration at the lack of training available in Spanish—it’s an issue for customers and those in the industry.

Solution: Gomez realized that he himself was part of the problem when a technician reached out to him and asked if Master Automotive Training offered classes in Spanish. At the time, Gomez did not, so he went searching for content in Spanish and he couldn’t find much and what he did find was incorrect or taught in a manner that didn’t make sense. “We’re missing a whole group of people that are missing out on fundamental information,” Gomez says of the lack of training available in Spanish. Gomez found his Spanish instructor, German Flores, on Facebook. He saw a post about an instructor who was teaching a class in Spanish so Gomez reached out to Hernandez. Upon their first meeting, he hired him on the spot. Between Gomez and Hernandez, Master Automotive Training now offers seven Spanish-speaking classes.

Aftermath: Gomez says that they’ve seen a huge influx of students since offering courses in another language. As a whole, the training company has

seen a 25% growth in enrollment. They even have a student who drives all the way from Las Vegas for the Spanish content. “It’s interesting the small dimple that we’ve made into the market,” Gomez says. Gomez says that shops that invest in this will see a return on their investment and that they’ll see more of the Spanish community bringing in repairs to them. It will give shops an opportunity to speak to a new population.

Takeaway: To shop owners who are skeptical or don’t see the point in offering Spanish-speaking resources, Gomez urges them to give it a try. He says it’s a great way to build relationships with both staff and customers and that it will create many opportunities to bring in new business and more quality staff. Gomez uses cell phones to showcase the importance of adapting. “Cell phones update once per month,” Gomez says. “If your cell phone updates all the time, there’s no excuse why shop owners aren’t updating if tech is updating all of the time. If we don’t change, we’re never going to grow.”

Bilingual Resources Helpful tools for Spanish-speaking customers and staff Download an App: One of the easiest and most costeffective ways to communicate with a person with whom you don’t speak the same language is by using an app. Be careful, though. Many do not translate very well and can cause more harm than good. Gomez suggests DeepL Translate. Hire Someone: Finding a bilingual service advisor or CRM can be extremely helpful as they can help bridge the communication gap between both staff and customers. You’ll want to find someone who is qualified beyond their Spanish speaking skills, of course, but many highly qualified candidates speak both languages. 11. 2 3 / R + W / 37

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MAKING JOB DESCRIPTIONS WORK FOR YOU Help your team members clearly understand expectations using these helpful tools BY TESS OWINGS

How many of you have had an issue with an employee who’s just not performing up to your expectations? Chances are, you’re nodding your head in agreement. Well, do they know what your expectations are and how they’re being measured? Dwayne Myers, co-owner and managing partner of Dynamic Automotive, a six-location powerhouse in Maryland, had a eureka moment after conducting performance reviews. He had a staff member who just wasn’t performing the way Myers hoped. During a conversation with human resources, he realized that it wasn’t, as he thought, “common sense,” what this staff member should be doing. “It was pointed out to us that we were trying to discipline someone when they didn’t know what’s right and wrong,” Myers says. He needed to spell it out in the form of a job description. Myers and Ben Nielsen, owner of the seven locations of Ben Nielsen’s Skyline Automotive in Virginia, have job de-

scriptions for every position within their organization. Not only do they help set expectations, but they are also useful for growing the company and are handy in preventing liability in the extreme case that an employee needs to be terminated and you need to back up your reasoning. It also helps with retention and creating improvement plans for staff. Job descriptions may seem like as Myers once thought “common sense,” but they help with communicating clear expectations and setting the tone for new hires. Here are some tips for making job descriptions work for you. Write with Purpose Create the description for the job that is needed, not for the person that you are writing the job for. Nielsen says this was the biggest mistake that he made in the beginning. He wrote the job descriptions for his current staff based on the person’s strengths and the tasks that they were currently performing rather than what the position needed to be in order for the

company to grow. Once he realized that, he became more purposeful. He’s grown his company to seven locations by first creating an organizational chart that shows what’s needed to be done to get to certain annual revenue goals and then, once that’s built, he puts in positions that are needed without names and then he backfills those. Be as In-Depth as Possible Myers would love to have one-page job descriptions, which he’s seen, but it’s just not realistic when you’re as detailed as he is. If you work for Myers, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, down to the noise level of the shop. “What’s the noise level? Why does that matter? Someone could have hearing loss and may not be able to be in that area. Some people may think it’s common sense but it’s not. It lays the whole job out. You sign it and you understand it,” Myers says. Myers and Nielsen’s job description include what each position is responsible for and the various duties that will need to be performed. Nielsen adds that he adds 11. 2 3 / R + W / 3 9


in information about his company and its mission and Myers adds critical information such as who you should report to; who, if anyone, reports to you; and pay structure.

Everything Starts with Hiring

Lay Out Expectations Right Away Both Myers and Nielsen present job descriptions during new hire onboarding and can also use them during the interview process if the applicant has questions about specific duties or what the job entails. “If they’re curious about what the job is, you can show it to them,” Myers says. Presenting these right away can help cut down on hiring people who are not a right fit.

Every individual’s impact is magnified in a small business. A great hire is like a shot of adrenaline, bringing new energy, driving production and progress—and significantly boosting morale. They seamlessly integrate into the team, enhance the company culture and can help to turn satisfied customers into loyal advocates. On the other hand, a bad hire acts as an anchor, pulling down team dynamics, stalling progress and even impacting the foundation of customer trust. They can create a ripple effect of negativity, causing strain within the team and potentially damaging long-cultivated client relationships. Indeed, the contrast between a great hire and a poor one in a small business environment is nothing short of night and day. I have certainly had my share of hiring misfires. You find the “ideal candidate.” They have all the skills, training and expertise you want, but it doesn’t work. It may be as simple as potential unrealized and expectations not met, or it can be disruptive to damaging to the business and team. If you have been in business for any period, you’ve likely experienced some similar version of the “bad hire” syndrome. This occurs when we focus too much on skills and experience and “need” more than on personality, character traits and cultural alignment.

Use to Back-Up Expectations During performance reviews, Myers will use his job descriptions to discuss any expectations that are not being met and will use it to create an improvement plan. “Nobody goes into work saying, ‘I want to screw up today,’” Myers says of staff that’s not performing up to standards. “It gets worse if it’s not addressed.” The job descriptions can help retain employees and get them performing to both your expectations and their own hopes for themselves as employees. Modify as Needed Job descriptions should be updated whenever needed. Myers says that his are updated yearly or if there’s a significant change, such as a new location, or a problem with the description that is brought to their attention. “It’s a living document and it can change at any time,” Myers says about his job descriptions. Nielsen also updates whenever needed and says his shop’s growth has made updating the job descriptions essential. In the beginning, when it was a one-shop operation, people were wearing many hats. Now, there’s no way he could get away without spelling out expectations as it’s impossible for him to oversee his large staff. Whether you’re a small mom-and-pop operation, an aspiring MSO operator, or already managing multiple shops, job descriptions will communicate clear expectations for your staff and will also help potential new hires decide if your shop is right for them. It may seem like a lot of work in the beginning, but it will cut down on performance improvement meetings, bad hires, micromanaging and save time and headaches in the long run. 4 0 / R + W / 11. 2 3

The Right Hire Adds to the Culture The primary focus in recruiting and evaluation should be to find people whose natural tendencies, motivations, and personalities fit your company culture. Skills can be trained and developed. Knowledge and experience are akin to a muscle and can be grown and developed with effort and work. In contrast, changing someone’s character and traits is extremely difficult. You’re far better off targeting and hiring eager, fast learners who want to grow, even if they still need to check every box of required qualifications. The benefits of prioritizing attitude over aptitude are immense. Employees who thrive in their roles and align with company values will be more engaged, loyal, and productive over the long term. They’ll support your customers better and spread positivity to their coworkers. Meanwhile, one toxic employee, even a highly skilled one with the wrong attitude, can destroy morale and damage your reputation. The Wrong Hire Wreaks Havoc in the Shop Through the rollercoaster of my hiring missteps, I have honed and perfected my candidate in-

terview process. After witnessing firsthand, the havoc a wrong hire can wreak, I realized that the ideal addition to my team was about more than just the skill set or work experience. It’s the character, the grit, the spirit of an individual that makes the real difference. I knew I needed to overhaul my recruiting and evaluation process by putting character traits before skill sets. And let me tell you, this perspective shift has been a game-changer. My team and I have identified the qualities that define an A-player in our culture. Our focus now is on attracting and recruiting the best fit for our team. Our ideal candidate must have self-drive, resiliency, adaptability, humility, integrity, practical intelligence, and a team player spirit. For us, it’s about finding those hungry for growth, brimming with curiosity, and radiating emotional strength. And how do you uncover these traits, you may ask? It all comes down to asking the right questions. Traits to Seek When Interviewing Candidates • Drive • Resiliency • Adaptability • Humility • Integrity • Practical Intelligence • Team-ability • Curiosity • Emotional Strength

This is an excerpt from “The Right Interview Questions: Your Secret Weapon for Successful Hiring” by Mike Bennett

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Aaron Stokes

Higher Wages Drive In More Talent Payroll is increasing, but so are the capabilities of young technicians BY AARON STOKES

thing wrong with our industry, which includes complaining about how technician wages have gone up to astronomical highs and how our staff is costing us more than ever. Instead, we need to look at it from the side of the coin—fresh faces. Have you ever seen so many young people trying to get into our industry? It’s more than we’ve seen before and that’s because few industries let a blue-collar worker jump in and make almost $60,000 out of the gate at a base level, which this great for our industry. This is going to bring in the talent we’ve needed for years. As wages go up, more talent comes in, and that talent may include people we would not have approved of in the past. We need to be open. It may be people younger than we’d like or people less experienced than we’d like, but they’re intelligent people who are going to be the future. They’re going to be the ones who grow our industry, like it or not. That was me. That was you. That was all of us 20 to 30 years ago. We were all dumb and green but excited about the future, and we 42 / R + W / 11. 2 3

dove in. We were scared, but we needed an older crowd—the OGs if you will—to be receptive to us, and so we need to be receptive just the same to these young people—men and women. If you take a look around, more women are jumping into automotive knowing they can make more money in this industry they once never considered. And they bring something different to the table— attention to detail. I’ve only had two female technicians, but the ones who have jumped in have been meticulous and very fast. We need to encourage more women to enter this industry because it’s becoming less of a job that requires strength and more of a job that requires brains. (And we all know females have way more brains than we guys do!) Yes, wages have climbed, and we may not like it; we may be frustrated with it, but we’re at the top of the heap right now. If you think about it, now we’re at $1,200 on an average repair order because of inflation (it was $800 just three years ago). Now that we have this larger gap, are we going to use this to our advantage and pay

Aaron Stokes grew his business, AutoFix, into a six-shop operation that is widely regarded as one of the top repair businesses in the country. He is also the founder of Shop Fix Academy. aaron@shopfixacademy.com ratchetandwrench.com/stokes

our technicians what they deserve and help attract more young people? Or are we going sit around our hands and complain about it? I for one think that we should instead see this as an amazing opportunity to bring in more talent than we’ve ever seen in our history. I have never seen so much promise in the industry and that’s simply because the wages have climbed. I think it’s an amazing thing.


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