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Mechanic Attrition - Why is it happening?

To understand the problem requires a thorough discussion of what got us here. Then we can start to explore some solutions to the problem. Unfortunately, time is against everyone and prices for auto service and repair only have one way to go. UP!

We are going to discuss this from the perspective of what consumes the largest amount of available work time for a mechanic of today and this item is only going to increase in the future. It is none other than Computer Diagnostics.

Of course this requires lots of very specialized tools, of which a quality professional grade OBD2 scan tool like the 2X80S is the most important. The reason for this huge time consumer for the professional mechanic is every new function on a car and almost all previous functions are controlled and or monitored by a computer. In fact the latest Ford Focus has 70 computers, all operating in a harmonious (hopefully) network.

This car computer network is very similar to the network in your business but lots more capable. Let’s place this into the proper perspective with data flow rates from reputable sources.

The amount of data flowing on the typical small business network (10 to 49 employees) maxes out at about 1 Gigabyte of data per day. 50 to about 500 employees use up to around 10 to 20 Gigabytes per day. (Source about.com)

The Ford Focus transfers data at 25 Gigabytes per hour. (Source Ford Motor Company). Obviously the scan tool that is used must have higher data throughput or just too much valuable information will not be available. If the OBD2 scanner has a low data acquisition rate like many carmaker scan tools, then diagnostic time will increase as well as the likely hood of misdiagnosis.

These business and car networks are very similar in that they both can get viruses, spyware, Trojans and HACKERS. All of these are of course far more dangerous in a car, because it is being driven and a ‘Crash’ here could cost lives, not simply that a computer ceases to function.

The diagnostic mechanic must be a highly skilled in all the typical mechanic skills, like plumber, electrician. HVAC, brakes, performance, suspension, aerodynamics, hydraulics, and so forth. However he must also be skilled in computers and networks. Some have even become Computer Technical Industry Association (CompTIA) certified technicians.

The required skill set for cars of today, will pale to the cars of tomorrow. Putting this into perspective, if the diagnostic mechanic of today is compared to the medical profession he would a general medical practitioner as compared to those mechanics of tomorrow, which would be Neurosurgeons.

Currently these very highly skilled individuals are literally seeing their compensation erode from many factors, one of which is they are not respected. This is from everyone, including those from the public all the way to car makers. They are considered a disposable resource! This is a huge mistake.

Their pay has gone from 50% of the labor charges they generate to about 20% and this is for what is termed an ‘A’ mechanic. The lower grades (B, C, D and GS) get even lower pay; some are minimum wage hourly employees. These ratings by the way indicate the required skill level to perform a task and are readily available in most labor time guides.

However, these minimum wage hourly employees like their 1099 brethren must have their own hand tools, diagnostic tools like obd2 scanners, Digital MultiMeter, and other specialty tools, service manuals, along with insurance and all the other items.

This appalling situation begs the question, “Why would these people do such adverse tasks, in a filthy environment, for such low pay, in an industry that does not respect them?” The answer is they truly Love Working On Cars, as many find it like a puzzle that needs to be solved.

However this “Love Working On Cars” does not pay their bills, feed their family and many can not afford health insurance. Many mechanics get divorced, because their spouses can not tolerate the living conditions on promises of making decent money in the future. Some require government assistance to feed and provide healthcare for their children.

These conditions are having their effect on these truly gifted individuals that hold the promise of keeping this industry going. It is affecting their mental attitude and they are leaving the industry. After all would you pay all those expenses to work a minimum wage job?

For those that stay in the industry even with these horrible conditions, many shops ‘give away the diagnostic service’ on hopes the motorist will allow them to fix the car. If the shop gives this mechanics’ diagnostic time away as many do, the mechanic has just had his pay cut by 50% and there is nothing he can do about it, short of looking for another job. This is causing many to leave the business, and the others to seriously consider organizing into a force to be reckoned with.

How would you feel, if tomorrow your boss told you that he is cutting your pay by 50% as a marketing tool to get more work? Do you think you would want to stay with him or would you seek other opportunities?

If these mechanics get organized, there will be many things that happen; I can see the possibilities like car makers forced to supply their repair data to that organization and its members for free as is required in the European Union or those members could refuse to service the manufacturers’ cars. The mechanics pay will go back to a living wage for their skill sets, which obviously means repair costs, are going to escalate!

Lip service organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) which preys upon the mechanics and what little income they receive now will most likely cease to exist. The reason is a self governed mechanic organization would actually have better qualified people able to perform complex services, especially diagnostics because they would require hands on testing. Not simply someone that can read a book, take a test and pass it.

What would you do if tomorrow, your car can no longer get serviced, because the pros joined together against carmakers’ practices? How many cars of that carmaker would you buy? Or would you just buy the product that the mechanics will service?

Next, we will explore how the current diagnostic mechanics have changed from the ones just 15 – 20 years ago. And where this is heading and what it means for you, whether you are a professional mechanic, a weekend warrior or a car owner that prefers their auto service performed by others.

Things are changing very fast in the automotive service and repair segment of the industry, especially with new advances, recalls, and car computer system exploits and more. So much is happening and most of it is not being reported by mainstream media. We intend to add a blog to our site by the first of 2014, to share this information that many times is just a footnote in other publications, but is so important to everyone.

If you like this information being shared with you, that has been the dirty secret of the industry for a long time please make mention of it on social networks, forums, chat rooms, emails – well just everywhere to get the word out.

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Comparing our 2X80S to competitors

Controls Data Corruption
Improved Data Speed
Enhanced Software Included
Phone Tablet PDA Capable
Multiple PC Applications
Multiple Phone Tablet PDA Applications
2 Wheel Vehicle Applications
Component Specs
OBD Training
Legacy OS Support
  Yes or Included           No or not included              Some or limited
All above information is based on published information as of 01/2015 or products purchsed to confirm

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