Stupid Owner Tricks - BodyShop Business

Stupid Owner Tricks

Does the owner of the collision repair shop where you work make Forrest Gump look like Einstein? Take solace in the knowledge that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Have you ever seen that segment of the Late Show with David Letterman where people bring out their pets and make them do stupid stunts? It’s usually some guy named Jethro, who has his pet possum jump through a ring of fire while spinning plates on toothpicks, as the theme from Rocky plays.

After watching this for almost as many years as I’ve been in the car business, I’ve come to the conclusion that the “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment should be called “Stupid Owner Tricks.” (After all, I doubt it was the possum’s idea.)

The same could be said for some of the bonehead things some collision repair shop owners do. I’m talking about the stupid shop owners out there who own shops but really don’t have a clue as to how things get done. You know. The owner who may have bought a shop as an investment or a consolidator who really doesn’t have an ounce of smarts or even a new car dealer owner who may have a body shop but can’t figure out what side of the masking tape stays up.

If you work for a shop owner who’s so stupid that he thinks a training bra has little wheels in the back, that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny and that vegetarians can’t eat animal crackers and is convinced that there is another word for “synonym,” you’ll no doubt be able to see your owner in this article.

I personally work for an owner like this. I know that if I magnified his common sense 100,000 times and put it on the edge of a razor blade, it would look like a pea rolling down the middle of a four-lane highway.
That said, here are some true stories of stupid owner tricks. The names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent. My name has also been changed to … well … protect me.

The “Lets Save Time on a Job” Theory
This particular owner – we’ll
call him “Bubba” – owns a car dealership. He happened to be in his body shop one day when he noticed a Grand Marquis with the front bumper ripped off and the header panel in shreds. He asked if it was a certain customer’s car. He thought he remembered this person was a good customer and wanted to make sure the job got done fast. He was informed that he was right in remembering the customer. So, feeling proud of himself, he asked why the vehicle wasn’t being worked on right away. Bubba was told that the frame was swayed and that it had an appointment at the local frame shop for the following morning. And once the repairs were completed, it would need a front-end alignment.

Feeling well-informed, Bubba walked back to the dealership building and noticed a technician with nothing to do. He proceeded to tell the service manager that a car in the body shop needed an alignment. The service manager contacted the body shop to inquire about the car and was told that the vehicle couldn’t be aligned because it had a bent frame.
Bubba insisted that they align the car. He couldn’t bear to think of a technician with nothing to do. The technician wasn’t very amused when told of the frame damage. He knew it was a waste of time to set it up on the front-end rack, but he did the work anyway. After all, Bubba signed his paychecks.

After taking the time to set up the vehicle and take readings, the technician informed Bubba that he couldn’t align the vehicle because the frame was bent. Bubba, feeling really stupid because he thought he’d save time on a job but actually wasted half an hour, proceeded to tell the shop manager to contact the insurance company. He wanted the tech to get paid for diagnosing the bent frame.

When Bubba was told that the frame had already been diagnosed as part of the estimating process, he told the shop manager to file a supplemental to cover the tech’s time.

Rating on the dumb scale:


Windshield 101
“Earl the shop owner” was walk-ing through his body shop when he noticed an older car with a broken windshield. He watched as a technician turned on the wipers and then shut off the ignition so the wipers were parked totally vertical. Earl asked the tech why he did that, and the tech told him that the design of the hood made it impossible to remove the wiper arms. They’d hit the edge of the hood if left in the lower position.
The technician went on to tell Earl that the hardest part about changing a windshield on this particular model was re-installing the wiper arms. Since they didn’t have a dedicated spline, it was hit or miss getting them back in the right position.

Earl’s eyes lit up. You could see the hamster in his head running on the wheel when he said the answer was “masking tape.” He told the tech to use masking tape to mark the position of the wipers on the windshield so they’d be easier to align after the new windshield was installed.
The tech just looked at him and asked how marking a broken windshield with tape would help align wipers on a vehicle when the broken windshield would be on the floor, and a new one would be installed.
Earl just walked away smiling, knowing in his mind that he could solve any problem the world had to offer.

Rating on the dumb scale:


That PT Cruiser Looks Funny
“Ernie” owned a Daimler Chrysler dealership with a body shop. He used the shop’s custom-painting ability as a selling tool to anyone who wanted his new car to be something special.

One day a customer came in wanting to buy a PT Cruiser and wanting a custom paint job and an aftermarket retro kit put on the front end. He agreed to purchase the vehicle after all the custom work was done.
The kit was ordered and painted when it arrived, and the rest of the vehicle was painted the way the customer requested. The retro kit was a two-part kit. One part went on the hood, and the other part went over the original grille.

Ernie walked into the body shop to check on the vehicle as the technician was finishing up the car. The hood was up so Ernie couldn’t see how the new kit looked. He asked the tech if he could put the hood down and look at it. The tech told him he could, since he was done under the hood anyway.

As the tech walked away from the car, he heard what sounded like metal tearing and a crunching noise. He turned around to see that Ernie had forced the hood closed – having never removed the prop rod.
Now he had a 2003 PT Cruiser with the hood folded and a prop rod sticking through it.

Ernie told the tech he didn’t know why the customer would want a retro kit installed because he didn’t like the way it looked. He walked away never mentioning the fact that the car now needed a new hood.
What’s even more ironic is that this particular owner, who always preached product knowledge, didn’t even know how to close a hood. A hood!

Rating on the dumb scale:


Let’s Change the Laws of Physics
“Bert” always sought the impossible. He’d bring in his friends’ cars with no appointments and expect three days worth of work to be done in eight hours.

One day he brought in a car and said he wanted to take it home with him at five o’clock. The body shop manager said he didn’t think it was possible because of the amount of body work that was needed before the paint work was done. The manager knew that even if he managed to reschedule a few customers, it’d still be hard to finish by five. But being the company man he was, he decided to give it his best shot.
All day long Bert checked in on the job. He kept reminding the manager that he wanted to take the car at five. Around 3:30, it became evident that it wouldn’t be done.

The manager went to Bert and told him the car wouldn’t be done by five, and Bert asked him why. The manager explained that he couldn’t change the laws of physics. The basecoat had to flash for 30 minutes before it could be clearcoated, and it would have to bake for 30 minutes after that.
Bert’s little hamster jumped back on the wheel, and you could hear the gears turning as the perfect solution popped into his head. Bert figured that since the flash time was the problem – 30 wasted minutes – the answer was in the manpower. He told the manager to put two techs on the job so that it would dry faster. So for 30 minutes, the manager had two techs stare through the booth windows as the paint flashed off.
The job still didn’t get done by five, but Bert was happy knowing that he showed the manager how to save time on a job.

Rating on the dumb scale:


Water Leak!
This has to be my favorite stupid-owner story: The year was 1988. The problem was a water leak causing puddles on the floor of a brand new

“Bob,” our incredibly ignorant owner, is walking through his body shop. He comes across a technician spraying water from a hose across the pickup’s roof to simulate a rain shower. Being as dumb as a box of rocks, he looks right at the tech and says, “What’s the problem? Water leak?”
The tech, after fighting the impulse to strangle Bob with the hose, confirms his intelligent assumption.

Then a light goes on in Bob’s head, and he smiles as if he’s just won the lottery.

“Sealer. That’s the answer,” he says to the technician. “Just put some sealer on it.”

The technician explained that he would use a sealer once he found the leak.

Bob, realizing the technician really didn’t understand, then says, “I mean sealer, like you use to seal a radiator. Why can’t you just pour it over the truck and put water on it?”

At this point the technician was laughing so hard he had to catch his breath. He tried to explain that radiator sealant worked because of heat and pressure, but Bob was convinced it would work if you mixed the sealer in one of those lawn feeder sprayers and hosed down the vehicle with it. The tech said if it were that easy, wouldn’t they just do that at the factory before shipping the cars?

Bob, the “I’m dumber than a rubber crutch” owner, left the body shop realizing that the technician really wasn’t that smart.

Rating on the dumb scale:


Dumb and Dumber
Each of these stories is true. All of these things really happened. The worst thing about it is that it was the same owner in every story. I know because I was the tech and then the manager when it all happened. The owner I work for is so stupid that if breathing wasn’t a natural occurrence, he’d forget to do it and suffocate. He’s so dumb that if he had two brains, he’d be twice as dumb. But, after dealing with him for more than 15 years, I’ve gotten used to him. It’s like working with the three stooges all rolled into one!

Writer Arnt U. Fedup II has been in the industry a long time and has seen some really stupid things.

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