THA 084: Buying Technician Tools: Create Your Program!

Your Learning Curve Never Sounded So Good

The Panel:

Keith Williamson is the owner of Williamson’s Repair and Tire in Bondurant, IA for over 20 years. He is a member of ASA Midwest where he leads the Shop Owner Support Group (an amazing group of shops) in Iowa. He and his team focus on the customer experience, as well as Hybrid, Electric and emerging vehicle Technologies. He recently added a solar array to his building and uses a Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt as shuttle vehicles and plans to add more hybrid and electric vehicles as they continually update their loaner fleet. He is a member of RLO Training’s Bottom Line Impact Group for 4 years. Listen to Keith’s previous episodes HERE.

Andy Bizub is a native of Chicago. His first career was 25 years as a commodity trader. He entered the professional auto industry in 2014 by acquiring a failing shop in downtown Chicago that he was a customer of, and starting a turnaround. At bought his first car at age 19, a 1972 Triumph Spitfire, which was the start of his gas, oil, and automobile obsession. Listen to Andy’s previous episodes HERE.

Seth Thorson has specialized in the service of European automobiles since 1999. First, in Michigan and now at his current location in New Brighton, MN.

Seth was educated at a UTI in Chicago where he was at the top of his class. He then went to BMW Step to finish the master’s program. Thorson was hired in at a BMW dealership in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  From there he moved to an independent shop in Waterford Michigan and learned VW Audi. Seth’s passion remained with BMW and he was offered a chance to buy an existing shop in New Brighton, Minnesota near where he grew up.

He is the owner of Eurotech which specializes in BMW, Mercedes and Audi cars.  He is a firm believer in using factory tools to ensure proper repairs and coding. His team of highly trained and certified technicians are able to diagnose today’s complex vehicle systems! His second location, Green Garage, works on all makes and models.

Seth also owns and runs a BMW tech support company called LMV Bavarian that provides support and programming to a growing network of over 200 shops via remote diagnostics.  He also teaches national seminars on BMW diagnostics. Seth has also partnered with SSF auto parts in their unique ‘hands-on’ training program.

Seth belongs to AASP in MN, BIMRS as well as NASTEF.  He is also a member of Cecil Bullards (Institute for Automotive Business Excellence) 20 group. He believes idea sharing and networking with other shop owners has helped grow his business. Listen to Seth’s previous episodes HERE.

Key Talking Points:

  • Buying technicians tools is a recruiting and retention tool for your business.
  • New technician program ideas:
    • Catch them when they start school.
    • Post-secondary student starts as a freshman. Buy a toolkit for them.
    • Work for your shop and get your tuition paid if you stay for four years.
    • Apprentice gets a toolkit. So when they are working for you they have access to tools.
      • Apprentice set is smaller and mobile so as apprentice works with different technicians they have their set with them.
    • Provide built-in tool boxes for every tech.
      • Toolboxes are a big barrier (cost)
      • All tool boxes are uniform. Tech has the key. The owner has a key. No toolbox envy.
      • This is trending especially at higher end euro shops.
      • Offer storage of techs current box while he uses your built in.
      • Some techs will sell their box.
      • Productivity gains when every toolbox is uniform.
    • The shop provides all specialty tools, diagnostic tools and scopes.
    • Tech owns a basic set of tools themselves
    • Every Lexus dealer is creating built-in tool boxes.
  • Shop owner helps techs buy tools
    • Shop foreman has a budget for tool purchases.
    • Idea: Andy Bizub: Exchange for labor hours. By mutual agreement, approved by his accountant.
  • Owners don’t want to see their techs in debt.
    • Techs must put an amount on their credit cards each week for the tool truck.
    • Less debt to carry
    • Tool truck’s love it because shop owner is paying them every month.
    • Less downtime from techs as they don’t need to spend as much time with tool truck.
    • Techs find something they need; these shop owner will purchase for the shop.
  • Current technicians
    • Keith Williams. Weekly stipend if zero comebacks.
      • $50 per week.
      • Not based on parts defects.
    • If techs are not worried about their tool debt they are a better person all around.
    • Yearly bonus can be used for tool purchased and used during the year.
  • Getting known at your automotive high-school or college
    • Let them know that you provide intern/apprentice tools
    • You can start getting some of the best graduates if you involve yourself in the school and they know you have a great program to support graduates into our trade.
  • Independents must get involved at the post-secondary level. (High School Important also)
    • Work with the department chairs and develop relationships with instructors.
    • Get involved with inspections for  ASE Education Foundation formerly NATEF.  
    • We must work with our young people and help them buy their tools.
    • Get together and help the schools acquire tools and equipment.

  • Leave me an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one of them.
  • A special thanks to Keith Williamson, Andy Bizub and Seth Thorson for sharing so that all ships rise.

Resources:

  • Link to Seth Thorson Interview on Creating a $25,000 Scholarship Endowment HERE
  • Link to Academy Episode 36 ‘Ten Reasons For Buying Technician Tools’ HERE

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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast; the only one of its type in the automotive aftermarket. Carm calls on his 35 years’ experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ path to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.