We should value all Auto Repair Technicians out there in our industry. With this shortage for Auto Repair Technicians, it gets harder and harder every single day to find the right ones.
Welcome everybody to Service Drive Revolution. I’m Chris Collins and I have Mia Griggs with me today. She has bright red hair and an incredible personality and she’s sitting in for Christian Lafferty, who we miss dearly.
First of all, we are going to talk about auto repair technicians and the idea of how you recruit and retain them and we have a fascinating guest, Kayce Morris, who we fell upon because she had a post on LinkedIn about getting terminated.
Our conversation then goes into females in the Auto Industry. A few other things that are fascinating and interesting that are great topics to ponder upon.
In an Automotive Industry where we’re losing more Auto Repair Technicians than coming in. I want everybody to go into this with an open mind and a point of view of how we get better at retaining technicians and creating an environment that they want to stay and thrive. Additionally, we talk about how to recruit more Auto Repair.
Auto Repair Technicians in which females would be an option.
We’re so extremely grateful that Kayce was able to make it out to our show. After a 12 hour work day where she flagged 12 hours. She’ll be telling us the story of what happened when she was a technician at a BMW store, and she posted something on social media that ultimately led to her termination at the company.
Kayce Morris starts reminiscing on the moment and says,
“I’d been at this particular BMW dealership for about a year and a half and I never had any problems there. I was always a good employee, if they needed somebody to work on Saturdays, I’d volunteer, always coming in with a smile on my face and this willingness to go above and beyond my job title to get things done. I’m a team player and I’ve been working on many cars throughout the years. Our dealership was a BMW mini. There was a car that came in and I had been working on it for about a week, did some maintenance to it, like the windshields and an alignment. After a couple days passed by, the customer that left, came back about a week later with a complaint of pooling.
We had put it back up on the alignment rack to make sure that the alignment was straight and when we started doing some investigating by pulling the wheels off the front of the vehicle, we immediately noticed that three of the lug nut holds had been cross threaded. Now I’m not saying that I’ve never done this before, however, this is something I wouldn’t do. My shop foreman was talking to me about it and I just swallowed my pride and fixed it because we gotta get the car out of here. I kept thinking about it over and over in my head and I was telling myself that this isn’t something that I’d do, but you can’t prove it. I was the last person in history to touch the car.”
The story gets interesting when Kayce figures out how this problem came into existence in the first place. She tells us that a receipt for a discount tire fell off the glove compartment. With a date and time that was 10 minutes after they picked up their vehicle from her shop. She was confused as to why the customer would take their car to another shop right after getting it fixed.
Kayce then tells us how she gave their receipt to her foreman who immediately understood the situation. Because the customers decided to take their car somewhere else, right after it was fixed.
After Kayce found the receipt, she made a post on Facebook saying,
She made a general statement talking about being right and getting an apology from the Foreman. It wasn’t anything mean and it was just her telling a story to her friends on Facebook about what happened. She didn’t belittle anybody, she didn’t call you any names, and she completely left the dealership out of it. It was just her relaying a story to her friends on Facebook.
Kayce then talks about what happened when her Foreman saw the post and tells us,
“I’m sitting there at my second job when I get a call from my shop Foreman telling me that they couldn’t believe I posted about them and how I needed to take it down right away.Of course I took it down immediately and thought to myself that I just lost my job. When I got that phone call, I could already tell through the tone that this was escalating quickly. I went in the next morning and went up to my Foreman asking him if he was ready to talk. My foreman told me ‘no’ and now we’re both waiting until the General Manager gets here.
I was in the middle of a job when they pulled me off and took me into the General Manager’s office. As I was sitting there, my boss handed me the letter of termination and told me that they were letting me go and how this isn’t up for discussion. I had already prepared for the worst. However, I didn’t think that that was going to happen, I thought I would get written up, get a slap on the hand, and be able to move on from this situation.”
Kayce expresses to us that she did not cry, she just got up and left. She told us that if somebody wants to go on her Facebook page and find the slightest problem to report her and get her fired, she said this exact phase which I believe a lot of Auto Repair Technicians can relate to,
“I don’t want to stay where I’m not wanted.”
After this instance, she called up a buddy who worked at a Ford dealership and asked if they were hiring? They told her that the General Manager wanted her to come down here right away because of her certifications and background. When she arrived at the Ford dealership, she talked to the General Manager and the Service Director for about 15 minutes and then was hired right on the spot. Kayce then started telling us about her experience at the Ford dealership, saying,
“When I started working at the Ford dealership, it was probably the worst dealership I’ve ever worked at in my life. It was completely unorganized and unproductive. We had Service Advisors that didn’t know anything about cars at all because they came from the detail shop with no experience as a Service Advisor. It was just the worst experience of my life.”
She made one more phone call to the Service Manager at this Mustang dealership, where she’s at now.
She told them that she’s currently at this dealership and how they needed to get her out of there as soon as possible. When she was speaking to the Service Manager, she told him what she wanted to do, in order to be transparent because this is what made her want to leave the Ford dealership.
The Ford dealership that she was currently at is about three months behind and transmission work because their transmission guys are burnt out. The Technician over there just didn’t want to do transmissions at all and she’s sitting there thinking about how she’s certified in transmissions. Kayce wanted to work on it badly, however, they didn’t want to train her. She remembers speaking to the owner and telling them how she wanted to do transmissions and they told me that they did not want to pay for the training, which to me is the worst thing you can tell a Technician. Kayce will never understand why dealerships won’t invest in their Automotive Technicians, who would potentially double their profits at the dealership. She details this conversation by saying,
“I’ve got to get out of here because they’re unwilling to make room to make more money.”
The dealership she’s at now and they told her right off the bat that they wanted Auto Repair Technicians that specializes in Transmission.
They were quickly willing to hire her at the dealership, just to strictly work on transmissions. Kayce hopped right on in and they put her in Transmission and now she doesn’t do anything but transmission, which is exactly what she wanted to do. She conveyed her excitement and said,
“I’m so ecstatic to be where I’m at with a Service Director who listens to the Auto Repair Technicians. That’s kind of the whole story, I left my BMW at $24 which was a dead flat line because I was there a year and a half with no raise. We had bonuses and incentives, but the raises weren’t there. After I went to the Ford dealership, I got a $5 raise, which brought me to $29 an hour. Now I’m making $37 an hour at the Mustang dealership. The production at this shop is so well set up and organized that I don’t waste time looking for cars, looking for keys, and trying to sell a used car from underneath me.”
After going through Kayce’s whole story about her termination and working for several dealerships. I wanted to know more about her upbringing and asked her,
“Growing up, when was the first time you realized you liked taking things apart?”
Kayce Morris relays her story to us and said,
“I specifically remember there was this NASCAR toy car that you could take apart and then put them back together. I blamed my parents for my love of cars for that specific toy. It’s just that nobody in my family worked on cars and my parents have never bought a brand new car. It’s always hand-me-down Hyundais and Kias because their interest is not in vehicles at all. Growing up, I liked fast cars and I don’t know where that came from either. When I was 15 and I was in the grocery store across the street. There was a sale for an old third gen Camaro. I had no idea why I wanted it so badly. Honestly, I don’t know where it came from but that was my dream car to have. Now I have two Camaros.”
She further explains that her passion was always in cars because she had Barbies and dolls. However, a lot of the time she was cutting their hair, picking their heads, and taking them apart. This brought me over to my next question that I wanted to ask Kayce,
“When did you first realize that you wanted to work on cars?”
She details her journey and tells us,
“The moment that I decided to go to school was when I was driving to Memphis. While driving through, some kids threw a brick at my Chevy and dented the door. I remember taking it to the dealership. That’s what got me into it and from there I started out in refinishing, bodywork, and paint. Additionally, I went to Universal Technical Institute in Houston, Texas and I became a certified Technician.
Furthermore, I also went to NASCAR Tech, which is another Universal Technical Institute campus in Morrisville, North Carolina. I signed up for their NASCAR program tech program and I finished at the top of my class.
Having said this, I was actually more interested in doing pit crew. However, the possibility of getting fired if your NASCAR team loses is something that deterred me away because I was more interested in having some stability. Therefore, this is why I went the dealership route. When I finished Ford and NASCAR, I had done so well that I could interview for a manufacturer training program and that’s when I picked BMW.”
Hearing Kayce’s amazing story really touched us and we thought this whole situation was interesting because the Automotive Industry is really struggling to recruit new people into being Auto Repair Technicians. This Technician shortage is constantly getting worse and worse and now five Auto Repair Technicians leave the industry for every new one coming in. With this shortage going on and hearing your story through the difficulty was extremely relevant to the current problems in the Automotive Industry. Kayce seems like such a sweet person, that wears her heart on her sleeve and I just couldn’t believe that this is happening right now. After discussing this, I asked her,
“What do you think that most dealerships or shops are missing when it comes to retaining technicians? Along with creating an environment where auto repair technicians see a career path?”
What Kayce told me speaks wonders about our industry, she says,
“I would say listen to the Technicians. The owner of the last Ford dealership I was at brought all the Technicians together and sat us all down because he wanted us to work a little more and get a lot more vehicles out. However, there was no incentive behind it and I had voiced my concern because why would I stay after five o’clock and make hardly any money. What incentive is there for me to stay and work a little more for you? Well, he didn’t hear that at all. He didn’t listen at all because the next thing I knew he was talking about how I was talking about doing a bunch of side work and the rumors went around the shop.
He did not listen to me at all and not only did he listen, but he went a whole different direction with it and misunderstood my perspective. On top of that, when he finally came and talked to me again, that’s when I had asked him about the transmission park. I mean we had burnt out Auto Repair Technicians and I’m sitting here with the credentials to do this and a boss that refuses to offer me training.”
Kayce finishes off the story by telling us that this moment made her push her toolbox down.
She talks about how her General Manager listens to everything that she wants. She sees herself at her current dealership for many years because workload is exactly what she wants to do. There was never a place for her at the BMW dealership. BMWs don’t overhaul transmissions.
Now she’s actually doing what she’s dreamed to do and it all stemmed from social media. She tells us that,
It’s to have Kayce Morris on our show and have her talk about the true value of Auto Repair Technicians. Inside an industry that is struggling to keep up with the Technician shortage. Let this be a lesson for everybody that is finding themselves in a similar situation.
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