Archive for August, 2016

In the Beginning

Friday, August 26th, 2016


quality mechanic airdrie

By Chris Dekker


This is a “Scotchlok” wiring connector, and you might say that these things are part of the reason our business exists today. Allow me to explain:

These connectors are the fastest way to splice into a circuit on your car. Just wrap it around two wires; push the metal blade down; and you’re done. The blade pierces through the insulation of both wires, and connects them together. They’re also the worst way to make a wiring connection on your car. Since the connection is neither secure nor sealed against moisture, using these connectors often results in electrical issues; corrosion of the wiring; and expensive repairs down the road.

I spent the first six years of my automotive career working in a what we call a chain store, or chain shop. Like most “____ Tire” franchises, all of the technicians (including myself) were paid on commission. That is to say that we received no hourly wage, and were instead paid by the job.

One job that I performed regularly was to install aftermarket daytime running light kits in vehicles imported from the United States, which do not have daytime running lights. This involved mounting a control unit; running a bunch of wiring; and making 5 connections to different circuits under the hood. We were paid 0.5 “units”, (or half an hour’s labour) to do this install. If we did the install in 10 minutes or two hours, it didn’t matter; we were paid for half an hour of our time.

Doing a good quality install in half an hour was impossible. If you wanted to securely mount the control unit; loom/tape/protect all of the wiring and route it nicely; and make good quality connections to the vehicle circuits, it usually took about an hour. So I was faced with a choice: Do I perform a quick (and in my opinion, lousy) install, or do I do it right but lose half an hour’s pay every time?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: There isn’t even a real choice here. Just do the good quality install, right? I wish I could say that was the choice I always made. I’m still not happy about it, but I did many installs that I’m not proud of – including using the cheesy “Scotchlok” wiring connectors that came in the kits. I was there to make a living, and trust me: It isn’t easy going home at the end of an 8 hour shift and telling your wife that you only earned 4 hours pay that day. Try doing it 4 or 5 days in a row! I still remember how in the slow winter months, it could be a challenge to put food on the table.

Now, to be fair, I did earn some of this “lost time” back on other jobs that I could complete more quickly. During the busy summer season, a skilled technician can earn a good wage on commission. But here’s my point in all of this: A flat rate or commission pay structure can force even the best technician to perform lower quality repairs that are below their standards. I was being forced by my employer to make a choice every day; between doing things right, or getting paid fairly for my time. That’s completely unreasonable. It’s a choice I wasn’t comfortable making anymore, and so I moved on.

It’s a choice that we’re not comfortable asking our technicians to make either. It’s not fair to them, or to our customers, who expect the absolute best quality repairs. This is why everyone in our shop is paid a fair hourly wage, with no incentive based pay system in place at all. Our quality of work needs to be good, not “good enough”.

The best quality and the best value in the region is what we promise you, and we do everything possible to achieve that. It starts with taking proper care of the gentlemen servicing your vehicle.