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The Elephant In Your Automotive Parts Operation

“I have written two columns on this subject … of the lack of incoming technicians in the mechanical and collision repair space and the need for qualified counter professionals,” writes Counterman Publisher Scott Shriber.

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Happy 2017 and welcome to the New Year. I hope this year proves to be a happy and prosperous time for all of you. The New Year is an interesting phenomenon. Miraculously, in one day, we are motivated to change everything we do in life. We – all of a sudden – aspire to eat only healthy food, exercise consistently (five days a week), stop doing all unnecessary tasks, spend more time with loved ones, donate our time to worthy causes, keep up our civic duties and maintain a balance with work and home. What?

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Ridiculous!

Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s take a more realistic approach: This is a good time of the year to look at what we are doing and evaluate if we are happy with the way things are going. Spend some time to get organized and set some goals for the up and coming 12 months. Then once that is done, work to those plans and goals for the year. Good luck.

Here is where we talk about the elephant in the room. I have written two columns on this subject and have received more calls and e-mails about them compared to any other subject I have written about. It is the subject of the lack of incoming technicians in the mechanical and collision repair space and the need for qualified counter professionals.

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Most people who called were very understanding of the issue and know why it has taken place. What is missing is how to fix it. After pondering the issue for months now, I believe there is no one right answer. When I get these calls I always try to run through the obvious actions, vocational schools, local high schools, PDR shops, apprentice programs, etc. Usually, the caller has tried or done all of these. Everyone is so focused on solving the immediate lack of employees that they don’t even think of a long-term approach.

The short-term solutions are many, and seem to be only moderately successful. Long-term, we need to look closely at how to educate people on the industry and the merits of working here. There are young people out there and they need a profession. Not everyone can be – or wants to be – a doctor, lawyer, computer programmer or Wall Street wizard. I, for one, am not suited to do any one of those. I love to work with my hands and fix stuff. Cars are my passion. So, here I am and have been for more than 40 years.

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We need to tout this industry for its virtues instead of harping on its challenges. If we don’t want to do it, why would others? Look in your own families and look for candidates. Go to schools and help the local programs. There are 250 million vehicles on the road. It is estimated that there are more than 10 million accidents reported each year. Think about how many mechanical repairs are done each day. Without exception, every one of those repairs requires a part that was handled by a counter professional. Without us, the nation grinds to a halt.

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Glamorous, maybe not, but steady work none the less. It’s up to us. Own it!  CM

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