Richard Craver

Musings about this world, and the world to come.

Does Quality Work Mean Anything Anymore?

Written By: richardwcraver - Aug• 10•15

Decades ago, I suppose I was a pre-teen because I remember listening to my Dad and not rolling my eyes, my Dad was talking to me about work ethic. I remember him telling me, “Whatever kind of work you do in life, do a good job. It doesn’t matter if your are a plane pilot or a dig digger, give the man an honest days work for an honest day’s pay. If you are a ditch digger, dig the man the nicest straightest ditch you can.” I have not dug ditches, those seem to be dug with backhoes, or cut with motor graders these days, but I have dug some post holes and buried a few pets over the years; none of the animals got dug back up by varmints and the mailbox is still standing straight. But I did take that advise to heart.

Later when I was at Forsyth Tech, one of my instructors, Bill Wilder, while teaching wheel alignment theory was asked by a student, “How close to you have to get to the specification?” His response was, “Within the accuracy of your instrument.” The student gave him a puzzled look, to which Mr Wilder repeated his response, “Within the accuracy of your instrument.” He further explained that to do precision work you had to work to the specification, whether a wheel alignment, adjusting valves, filing piston rings for correct end gap; whatever the task, once you have done it to the manufacturers standard, the only variable should be the accuracy of the tools or instruments you are working with.

I still like doing precise, exacting work; it is my motivation for staying in the car business for 31 years, but things are changing. There have always be those that cut every corner to turn out more work, usually they do it to their own demise in the form of ‘comebacks’. Having Zero comebacks is difficult enough giving the nature of automobiles, effects of vehicle aging, vehicle abuse by drivers, drivers that only tell part of the story (We know when we are being lied to. Give us the Paul Harvey “Rest Of The Story“, you will save yourself a lot of money and hassle by telling the truth.), so diligence is a great attribute for a technician to possess, sloth pays well only in the short term. There is an old proverb, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, how will you have time to do it right the second time?” Or, “Close enough only works when playing horseshoes or throwing grenades.”

Unfortunately the industry has turned from using markers such as CSI, Customer Satisfaction Index, to various Production Quota systems being hawked by every business coach that writes a book or holds seminars. Most don’t know which end of a screwdriver to pickup, those that do have not been in a bay turning wrenches in years. Everything is measured except whether the vehicle was repaired and if the customer is happy.

Nowadays the mode of operation is to get as many cars in the door as possible, regardless of appointment, regardless if they can be serviced or repaired properly in a timely manner. When the inevitable comeback occurs, of course the customer comes in to WAIT while the technician gets a verbal flogging from the front counter.

I don’t have a point here, I just want to do good work for good pay. The United States used to be a nation that made things, built to last, built with pride.

Used to…

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