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You’re a collision technician. In fact, you’ve probably been working as one for years. You know your craft, you have the experience and you put in your typical eight-hour days, five days a week.
You’ve probably also noticed that at the end of the year, your gross and net earnings have been sliding downward. So you forgo your lunch hours and stay an extra hour after closing time.
Still, you just can’t seem to earn more money. It’s as if you’re still working for paychecks that were written in 1978 dollars.
Then you hear or read about these “Super Technicians” – techs who consistently turn fantastic weekly hours, earning themselves much-higher-than-average yearly earnings. You fitfully think to yourself, “What the heck is going on here?! I’m sure these super techs aren’t any better than me. So what do they have going for them that I don’t? Why is it they make more than double than me?”
Lots of reasons. One is that in all probability, these people work in a shop where the floor space and management systems operations are all organized in a highly efficient manner, which allows for maximum production with very little wasted movement. Wasted movement is wasted time, and wasted time is money lost.
It could also be that these guys shortcut repair jobs something fierce (all done with the silent endorsement of the shop owner and his insurance “partner”). And wading through more repair jobs means more billable hours and more dollars at the end of a pay period.
Or, perhaps these Super Technicians are the quiet beneficiaries of a mutual patronage deal with the owner.
All these reasons combined spell fantastic end-of-year earnings.
Or maybe, just maybe – and it’s always a point overlooked by industry observers – these Super Technicians are workaholics. Maybe they live at the shop, working ’round the clock if the work load supports doing so. They work weekends and holidays. They never go home, preferring instead to devote all their time to chasing those promised large bushels of Lincolns and Jacksons.
You wanna make the same big money as these people, you say? Then it means that you’ll have to transform yourself into a workaholic. Kiss your family goodbye, and bid farewell to the guys on the bowling team. Once you’ve finished your transition, your friends and loved ones will consider themselves lucky if they see you once a year. But your wife and kids will love cashing and spending those weekly $2,000 paychecks that you’ll be sending them.
Feeling some doubting pangs of hesitation? Hey, don’t worry. You’ve watched “The Simpsons” on TV, right? Just think of Apu, franchise owner and clerk of Springfield’s Kwik-E Mart. Apu is almost always at his store. He never goes home. And when Apu does feel a need to get away and socialize with family and friends, he does so in small 30-second slices before high-tailing it back to his store. The point is, Apu may have sacrificed his humanity and sanity upon the corporate alter of larger profits, but Apu is happy.
Still not convinced? Then consider these 10 advantages to living at the shop and working around the clock.
- Free housing. Guys earning the big dollars live at the body shop. You may not know this, but frame machines make great places for catching 20-minute naps. If the frame machine is loaded or in use, consider sleeping in one of those large cardboard boxes that the OEMs ship hoods and body sides in. Bonus napping points if a conversion van is in the shop for repairs.
- Cheap food. Who needs home-cooked meals or high-priced restaurant food? Most shops have vending machines, so you’ll have all the candy bars, beef jerky and soda pop you need to keep you slopping and shaping bondo all night long.
- Free bathing facilities. The more progressive shops have clothing change and shower rooms. If such facilities aren’t available and you’re not modest, the green garden hose in the detailer’s stall works just dandy for rinsing off 24 hour’s worth of accumulated filth.
- No television cable bills. You’re hustling, you’re busy making the tall green, so you don’t have time to watch the telly!
- No annoying telephone calls. When you’ve only eight hours to clip a car and have it painted, assembled and delivered, the last thing you need to hear is your Aunt Nellie droning on about Uncle Bill’s bee sting. Only reason you’ll ever need to use a phone is to dial 911 after you inattentively sliced off your finger with a power tool.
- No expensive and time-wasting social life. Why have a family life or hang around in bars when you’ve got the Internet? Gain access to the broadband terminal in the office that’s kept hot 24-7, and that’s all the social life a top-producing bodyman needs! But moderation is the key. Limit yourself to five-minute slices every six hours. And stay away from e-mail. Reading and composing e-mails takes up too much time and will cut into your productivity.
- No need for a personal vehicle. You live at the body shop so everything you need to earn, entertain yourself and survive is right there. Why would you wish to leave? Oh sure, there’s that creamed late-model pickup truck sitting out back that you bought as an insurance total, which you intended to repair and use as your own personal vehicle. But that truck will have melted down into a pile of crunchy rust flakes before you have the time to do anything with it anyway – even if you weren’t on the work 23-hours-a-day program.
- Free uniforms. Most shops provide threads for you to wear around so you conform to another person’s image. This means you don’t have to purchase and maintain a varied wardrobe. Plus, wearing a uniform is an efficient time saver. Why hunt around for a rag or a shop paper towel when you can wipe grease, paint and uncured plastic filler on your slacks and shirt tail.
- The privilege of working with caring, supportive people. There’s the appreciative employer who gives of himself and digs deep into his pockets to reward his loyal and devoted body shop crew for their learned skills and hard work – thus, making the said owner several thousands dollars richer at the end of a working week. Notable carrot-on-a-stick rewards include buying the crew a take-out pizza.
- The big bucks. What else can you do and where else can you go with only a grade-school education and still have the potential to earn $90,000+ a year?
Writer Barney M. Slifer is a practicing collision-repair technician with 30 years of experience. He’s also a licensee of AutoClaims Solutions based in the Midwest Great Lakes region. Slifer can be contacted at (219) 922-9886 or at [email protected]