Archive for February, 2012

Preventive? No, Productive…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

When a large part of your life has been spent sewing words together, words that form the palette you use to paint the images of the stories you tell… you pay a lot of attention to those words. You have to, especially when those words can have a profound impact on the world in which you operate every day. 
Words tell stories and because they are often charged with powerful, yet sometimes subliminal meaning that can move people to or from: toward or away, they should and must be chosen carefully. 
A great example of words that fit our current vehicle maintenance-focused dialogue here in Counter-Intuitive, words that have not been chosen carefully – at least, not in my opinion – is the word preventiveused in conjunction with the word maintenance to describe the services that must be performed on your car or truck to ensure the longest possible service life at the lowest possible cost.
While the term “Preventive Maintenance” makes perfect sense when you understand and appreciate its meaning: the two words used together are almost counter-intuitive themselves: antithetical, if you don’t!
It almost sounds as if someone is trying to prevent maintenance, rather than prevent the lack of maintenance that is the natural enemy of any machine. Properly defined, “preventive maintenance” is maintenance– scheduled and prescribed service – designed to help maintain the machine and prevent it from failing in service: prevent it from breaking down.
It would be safe to say that unless or until that is explained, the very folks who need to understand this message most, understand it least. And, yet, those of us in the repair community who bear the responsibility of communicating the importance of maintenance – use the term “preventive maintenance” all the time without giving a second thought or the slightest consideration to whether or not the very folks to whom this message is directed ‘get it’ or not.
Perhaps, a better term for this kind of service would be “Productive Maintenance.” At least, both words have positive connotations.
It makes more sense, doesn’t it?
We’re going to do something on your vehicle designed to produce the high expectation of a positive result – a dependable and well-maintained vehicle that lasts longer, costs less and doesn’t leave you stranded.
When you understand that you understand everything! You understand why it’s productive(in your best interest) to maintain(make something continue) your vehicle and you understand why some services are and can be more productive than others.
Words are the pigments we use to paint a picture of the world around us. They are the tools we use to frame that world: to make some kind of sense out of it.
Words and expressions that demand constant clarification, words and expressions that require constant explanation, are not representative of our best choices. They can’t paint the picture we want to paint. They can’t paint the picture we need everyone to see. The colors are wrong.
We need a new and different image and for that we’re going to need new and different colors: new and different words. Words that paint a better picture, tell a better story, like “Productive Maintenance” in place of “Preventive Maintenance.

Living Inside My Own Head…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about our industry. I’ve been doing it a long time. Long enough so I can’t remember not doing it.
For years, it was just one column flowing from the office and the shop floor. Then, it was a second column written to distribution and manufacturing. Now, it’s two columns, this blog, the bi-monthly webcasts I’ve been presenting for the past year and a monthly newsletter produced for our customers and clients.
That’s a lot of time lost in thought, analyzing what shop owners like me go through every day: a lot of time spent trying to capture the most important elements of our experience well enough to share them in a host of different venues. Something has to drive the kind of extreme commitment that draws you to your home office every night and every weekend for hours at a time. There has to be a pretty powerful “Why?” 
Well, if it’s true that beliefs influence purpose… and, purpose drives behavior… here are mine.
I believe the motoring public deserves the finest quality parts and the best possible service available… provided they are willing to make the investment that kind of service and those kinds of parts require.
I believe members of the repair community deserve more… provided we make the necessary commitment and are willing to invest in our profession, our industry and ourselves.
I believe just as strongly that unless we can differentiate ourselves: our ability and the quality of our service from those in our industry who are not willing to do as much or go as far, we will never achieve the respect or reap the rewards we have worked so hard for.
I believe we do this through explanation, education and our actions and interactions with the vehicle owner.
Those beliefs have given my life purpose and that purpose fuels virtually everything I write: everything I do.
One of the things that bothers me most about our current reality is the fact the technology repair professionals deal with every day has all but escaped the vehicle owner in virtually every aspect of the vehicle’s operation.
The automobile once acted as a kind of “technological bridge” between the average man or woman and the world in which they lived. You could move the throttle and watch fuel squirt into the venturi. That technology was not only visible, it was almost understandable. It was easy to understand how points worked: you could see them open and close and you didn’t need an Owner’s Manual to tell you when to change the oil: engines were less efficient and you could almost see the contaminants turn the oil black while you watched.
Today, that bridge is down. The vehicle has infinitely more computing power than anyone could purchase and put on their desktop. The vehicle’s on-board computer is exponentially faster and more powerful: period!

They don’t understand computerized engine management, active suspensions, modern lube requirements, extended service intervals, controlled vehicle comfort systems, anti-lock braking systems or in-vehicle entertainment any more than they could tell you how their home thermostat, refrigerator, entertainment center or Wi-Fi works. They don’t know – or, care – what makes their 3-D, 60″ LCD Flat Screen function. They just want it to work.

They want their vehicles to “work” also. The only problem is the vehicle is maintenance intensive and justifying that maintenance demands explanation and understanding.
I’ve started writing about these maintenance-related issues and more  more for you – our customers, and the general public, in the hope it will help tell our side of the maintenance story.
It’s my hope that by sharing what’s inside my head we’ll be a little closer to getting to where we need to go: a place we will never see unless or until you both know and understand what your automotive service professional is doing and why he or she is doing it… what you need to do and why it’s in your best interest to do it.
Till then, stay well, take care, make money, have fun and don’t do business with anyone you don’t like. That’s the same advice I’ve been giving shop owners for years. There’s probably a good reason you don’t like that person whoever they might be and there’s no need to find out what that reason is!

Mitch