Would you leave a dealership for an independent shop?

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I have a job oppurtunity that has been weighing on me heavily for the past few months. I figured the anonymity of the internet would let me be more specific about it than I can be with friends or family. So here goes! I’ve been an automotive dealership employee for about 13 years off and on now. 12 as a technician, working all the way up from lube tech while I did half days my senior year of high school to a certified master technician. I really enjoyed the work I did in the middle of my career; brakes, cooling system repairs, drive ability concerns and tons of steering/suspension repairs. As I was in the field longer I got way deeper into electrical, module communication network and entertainment system repairs which I REALLY do not enjoy doing. My last year I made a move to the desk as a service advisor. I like many things about this job and I feel I do it well. I’ve been the top selling advisor since my 3rd month at the desk. During my 5th month the previous top advisor left, leaving us short handed and me working 60+ hours a week for the next 4 months. It’s a salary plus commission pay plan so I wasn’t getting overtime pay for it. We also do not get a lunch break or any guaranteed break time, if an errand needs to be done during the day I can get with my coworkers and have them cover for me for awhile but I’m never guaranteed time away once I walk in the door of the building. We’re also open a full day on Saturdays so I work at least one a month, not terrible but I’m salary and we just do oil changes on Saturday so I’d be lucky to pull $20 in commission for the 8.5 hours I’m there. Then there are the dealership customers. About 70% of them are great. Then there are the only warranty/recall customers. Everything that’s wrong with their car should be free regardless of the mileage or abuse it’s been through or they just want to call and yell at someone because their recall parts are not in. The bad part is I get no backup from sales, the GM or owner over this. At some point these people own the vehicle and they own the repair bill as well! We’ve had sales/finance run the warranty on people’s vehicle then patch them through to us to have us tell them the issue their having is not covered. One lady called the owner because I had the audacity to charge her diagnostics on an issue she felt should be warrantable but was not(broken occupant classification sensor due to crap jammed under seat on a 8yr old 130k mile car) She yelled and screamed at me for 45 minutes while I did my best not to laugh. Then the owner is on a conference call with the GM and service manager about how we need to take care of this customers bill for her. So there’s what I don’t like. I do like the automotive repair industry. I do like not being a tech. I like my immediate supervisors, both service manager and assistant service manager are knowledgeable and easy to work with. I would be looking at going to an independent tire shop. They do alignments, basic diagnostics and light repair work. We have not sit down about pay yet but I told them I was not looking to take too much of a pay cut. I would take one though seeing as how it would be a reduction in hours and definitely stress level. The owner I’ve known since childhood, he’s a great guy and this business has done well for many years due to his family’s(his dad opened it originally) reputation for honesty. It would be a 45 minute each way drive. The town it is in has a smaller population than the town the dealership is located in. Then there is the guaranteed work a dealership brings in, recalls warranty etc. I’ve never been at an independent before so I feel I’d be giving those things up. If anybody read through all of that, thank you! My writing is almost as scattered as my thoughts but hopefully it can be interpreted. Any thoughts, suggestions or especially experiences to share will be appreciated.
 
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I don't see how you can discuss it until you've sat down on the money. That said perhaps you can move closer. Can you ever become the service manager at the dealer? I can think of one who just bought out the dealer he worked at.
 
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Originally Posted By: wsteveg
I don't see how you can discuss it until you've sat down on the money. That said perhaps you can move closer. Can you ever become the service manager at the dealer? I can think of one who just bought out the dealer he worked at.
+1 If you really want to wrench, you should open your own shop. Otherwise climb the ladder at your current position, you could do that anywhere. If I were you I would be trying to find a better paying service advisor/manager position and start raking it in.
 
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Originally Posted By: maxdustington
Originally Posted By: wsteveg
I don't see how you can discuss it until you've sat down on the money. That said perhaps you can move closer. Can you ever become the service manager at the dealer? I can think of one who just bought out the dealer he worked at.
+1 If you really want to wrench, you should open your own shop. Otherwise climb the ladder at your current position, you could do that anywhere. If I were you I would be trying to find a better paying service advisor/manager position and start raking it in.
sounds like the opposite of OP wants... Just tell em you want out of the counter - it's not where you'd like to be. Otherwise you gave it more than a fair shot and it's not right for you, regardless of whether you excel at it.
 
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cb_13

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A few details I did not include. I would be starting as an advisor type position and moving to become service manager or potentially even buying in if finances make sense to do so. The owner is looking to partially retire and needs someone honest and qualified to take that position. It’s really not about the money as far as leaving where I’m at now. It’s the amount of hours, lack of time to do anything else on a work day and dealership life in general. I’ve been offered an advisor spot at two other dealerships(probably wouldn’t make as much at either as where I’m at now but I’m highly commission based now) and could probably get in the door as a tech about anywhere if I was desperate enough to be a tech again. Although being a B line tech again would be great, I just know how it works in the industry and once a manager/dispatcher realizes you’re capable of doing certain things you’ll either be stuck doing them or quitting no matter what deals or base pay was negotiated upon hiring. I honestly would have been happy taking a pay cut and not dealing with the crap I had to my last few years as a tech.
 
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Sounds like you should go for it. Nothing worse than a salaried job where they take advantage of it. I'm hourly and like it that way. I work, I get paid.
 
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Why would a tech at a Dealership be interacting with the customer? That is the service writers job. The only time I see a tech is out the window, and if there is a problem, like uneven tire wear, they recommend a cross rotation. They do try to sell me on a $50 tire rotation. frown I would get the new job lined up, THEN go to the Dealership boss and "I got a offer elsewhere, can you beat it?" and see if you can get better pay grade.
 
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cb_13

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Originally Posted By: Vern_in_IL
Why would a tech at a Dealership be interacting with the customer? That is the service writers job. The only time I see a tech is out the window, and if there is a problem, like uneven tire wear, they recommend a cross rotation. They do try to sell me on a $50 tire rotation. frown I would get the new job lined up, THEN go to the Dealership boss and "I got a offer elsewhere, can you beat it?" and see if you can get better pay grade.
Currently I am an advisor.
 
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From what you've told us, it sounds like something to strongly consider. If the job worked out, would you move closer? If not, how big of a deal to you is the drive?
 
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First, you have given me an appreciation of dealership techs and service advisors. My Nexen tire had a road hazard destroy it and a local Family owned shop was only one that carried the tire. It was a blessing in disguise. I was able to talk directly with the owner. The business was based on taking care of customers. They had a lot of them. It is where I will go for tires. Already checked out them doing brakes. Some people like me value the smaller, less fast paced dealership experience. If you take the new job have you ever thought of doing repairs you love to do on the side? It may be another way to do what you love since you could just choose what jobs you do. It may be a way to supplement income if needed, but more importantly do what you enjoy.
 

cb_13

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Originally Posted By: zrxkawboy
From what you've told us, it sounds like something to strongly consider. If the job worked out, would you move closer? If not, how big of a deal to you is the drive?
Not a big deal for me at all. I’ve made it in the opposite direction most of my adult life. The tire shop is in my hometown. I lived there and commuted to where I live now to work previously. I don’t think moving would be an option. I’d love to as my family has lots of property located near that town. My wife’s sister lives in the town we’re at now and my wife has made it quite clear she’s not moving away from her sister. They’re twins and VERY close. Now if I could get the sister and brother in law to move as well then maybe lol
 
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Peace of mind is very valuable to me. I once took a $20k paycut to get out of a salary position Where it was 6 days a week sometimes 7. i felt what good was the money if i never had time to spend it. So I went from middle management of a Regional Grocer to a Professional Fire Fighter working 10 24 hour shifts a month with 20 days a month off. Plenty of time for a side gig if wanted and to work on my golf game. Worked out great as the Grocer went bankrupt after being bought out and the debt flipped back on us (the buyout is what pushed my out the door) and now I retired at the age of 52 with a decent Fire Pension and insurance for the rest of my life.
 

cb_13

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Originally Posted By: MONKEYMAN
First, you have given me an appreciation of dealership techs and service advisors. My Nexen tire had a road hazard destroy it and a local Family owned shop was only one that carried the tire. It was a blessing in disguise. I was able to talk directly with the owner. The business was based on taking care of customers. They had a lot of them. It is where I will go for tires. Already checked out them doing brakes. Some people like me value the smaller, less fast paced dealership experience. If you take the new job have you ever thought of doing repairs you love to do on the side? It may be another way to do what you love since you could just choose what jobs you do. It may be a way to supplement income if needed, but more importantly do what you enjoy.
I would probably buy a few vehicles in need of work to flip. I have a Jeep I’m doing that with now, if I actually do sell it it’s turning out to be a nice vehicle now that I got it fixed up. I wouldn’t do repairs for money because I’d feel I was poaching customers from the tire shop if I did. I did have considered rolling my tool box into the shop there if I took the job. I’m unsure if it would be viewed as helpful or stepping on some of the techs toes. So I definitely would not do it immediately but is an option.
 

cb_13

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Originally Posted By: dbias
Peace of mind is very valuable to me. I once took a $20k paycut to get out of a salary position Where it was 6 days a week sometimes 7. i felt what good was the money if i never had time to spend it. So I went from middle management of a Regional Grocer to a Professional Fire Fighter working 10 24 hour shifts a month with 20 days a month off. Plenty of time for a side gig if wanted and to work on my golf game. Worked out great as the Grocer went bankrupt after being bought out and the debt flipped back on us (the buyout is what pushed my out the door) and now I retired at the age of 52 with a decent Fire Pension and insurance for the rest of my life.
That’s pretty well my gut feeling on this too. I’m making pretty decent money now but what good is if I don’t have time to enjoy myself. Good choices on the fire protection job. Pensions are great! My father is in law enforcement and will have been at two different departments long enough to draw retirement from both of them.
 
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Tell the boss you're going to work 40 hours a week or you're going back to hourly pay. Seems like most of your issues are you're underpaid. Watch some "House MD" and learn that it's okay to be an asshle at work. Don't let the customers push you around-- the dealer doesn't have your back so you don't need to be that whipping boy. Just excuse yourself after they yell at you for 2 minutes and disappear. You need to let them have that 2 minutes, it's cathartic, but any more and you're just a punching bag. Some customers just need to be fired; you sound like you can bring replacements in. As long as the numbers stay good you'll have a job. The tire shop I worked at abused the "managers" on salary, making them work 6-7 days a week. Any full time counter employee was an Asst. Manager or higher. Unemployment is low. Employers formed bad habits during the last, long recession. Make your job what you want it to be-- I bet it can be done where you are. If you get canned for expressing the new you, you can have another job in the industry before you even get your last paycheck.
 
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One thing I have learned is that good perks like a contributing retirement program, paid vacations and sick leave become very important as you grow older. If you write down the Pluses and Minus for a dealer and independent shop you may find the best answer. Money is only one piece of the long term puzzle. Ed
 
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