Who are Doug and Kian? Doug Snow and Kian Amirkhizi lead a company called MATRI-X. MATRI-X is dedicated to the education and training of interior repair industry technicians. Doug and Kian have a varied and extensive background in training and almost 50 years combined experience as expert repair technicians themselves. Each are past winners of the Mobile Tech Expos’ Leather Repair Contest.
The secret to “Easy Money”: It’s not what you do, It’s what you know!
It’s 2:00 in the afternoon. You’ve just arrived at your third job of the day; this one is at a body shop. Earl, the owner, begged you to get there today.
He wants to deliver a car but there is still some damage left on the dash from the stolen radio (these particular thieves obviously had no training in the proper removal of car audio equipment). You’re led through the body shop while men are working busily at their jobs, sanding, priming and painting. Most you don’t know by name, but all by face. You nod hello and wave casually as you get to your job, ever-present radio blaring in the background.
Earl opens the door and says,” This one’s a real stinker, see those pry marks? I’d do it myself but the one time we tried we ruined a $1200 dashboard, figure I better call the expert,” and then laughs out loud. You just smile and say, “That’s what I’m here for. Looks tricky, but I think I can make it look pretty good.” Earl snorts, “If it’s as good as the last time, it’s good enough for me,” and then walks away.
Now it’s just you, the car and three pry marks (dramatic theme music in the background). One quick look around to make sure no one is watching and then you fire up your portable butane torch which makes the distinct sound of a small jet. Gently you massage the first pry mark with heat from pencil eraser-sized tip of the torch. Within 6 seconds the 1st pry mark disappears completely, the second and the third are dealt with in the same manner.
Total time elapsed, 2 minutes. Bill for said work: $125.
When you do your most profitable work, you’re not paid for what you do; you’re paid for what you know. We have all been pleasantly surprised by that occasional job that seems like “easy money” like the example above. Examine the times this has happened and you will find that the reason these jobs seemed like “easy money” was because you were being paid more for what you knew - your experience, techniques and know-how - rather than hour upon hour of backbreaking labor.
So, it logically would follow that expanding what you know is key in developing your profitability as an interior repair technician (unless you have personal issues and enjoy the backbreaking labor). Even for the most experienced technician will run into plenty of jobs that demand hours (usually more than you planned, or bid for) of intense labor and focus. If the situations that arise where our knowledge “does the job” outnumbers the “hell” jobs, this means one thing: profit.
Increasing our knowledge about our craft will also help profitability in other ways. Say for instance that you take 90 minutes to do a particular repair job. Then you learn a different or faster way to do that particular job 15 minutes faster with similar or better quality. 15 minutes may not be overly impressive on its own merit, but if you do that particular job 40 times over two months, that is a total savings of 10 hours! (Hint: 10 beautiful, free, do-what-you-want or…dare I say it…BILLABLE hours).
So, the equation is: increased knowledge = increased profit. How do increase your knowledge of products, techniques and methods?
Training: Extremely valuable when received from qualified individuals or companies. As self-serving as this may appear (since this is what MATRI-X does), it is a fact that training is probably the most obvious and direct way to increase skill and knowledge. However, we all usually face limits in how much we can spend toward this and you often get what you pay for in regard to training, so we have to be careful. Choose carefully through research on the Internet or other investigation, talk to people who have attended the training and consider the credentials of the instructors of whatever training you’re interested in.
Mobile Tech News: This publication and the annual conference they hold are perhaps the most progressive things that have happened to our industry. This periodical allows us to keep pace with what is happening in the industry and provides a wealth of invaluable information to any interior repair technician. Paired with the annual Mobile Tech Expo, this periodical has definitely been a unifying force. (Since I write this article for Mobile Tech News, is this self-serving again? Darn…)
Mobile Tech Expo: It’s essentially the United Nations of the cosmetic repair industry. It’s a place where technicians from all over the country can meet on neutral ground and discuss the industry. Besides the obvious benefit, this event spearheads what is new and exciting in our field, offering a variety of ways to learn about new products, techniques and methods. Through touring the exhibits, taking part in classes or enjoying the opportunity to talk directly to suppliers, this can be a very significant experience. (This type of openness would have never happened without the vision of Kevin Halewood, Salute!).
Networking: This is a vital byproduct of attending training seminars and events such as Mobile Tech Expo. Once you come to events such as these, you invariably develop relationships with all kinds of technicians across the country. Besides the fact that it is just downright fun to talk shop with other people that do the same thing sometimes, many of your newfound associates will have an expertise in areas you hope to learn about or improve. If you take dozens of interior repair technicians and put them in a room, just think about what you would get (besides a fashion emergency and need for a good air-freshener): years upon years upon years of experience, trial-and-error and learning
A Deeper Understanding of What You Already Know: Many technicians have found it very useful to learn more about the things they use everyday. Extra study on finding out why things work the way they do on a scientific level can be a shortcut to lessons that might only be learned through trial and error before. Increasing the breadth of your knowledge about what you are working with will only improve your ability and skill overall (plus you can impress others with all your brainy subjects!!!)
In closing, we must remember that growth = life. If we don’t grow in our ability and knowledge but keep doing the same things…the same way…using the same products…the same techniques…your profitability will suffer. More than that, most of us have to keep one step ahead of our competitors. I wonder what your competitor learned this week that you didn’t? Get the point?
MONTHLY TECH TIP: WATER BASED COATINGS
One of the common problems with plastic panels is that sometimes there is a dye coat on top that is water-based (e.g. dashboards of late-model Chevy pickups). This dye coat sometimes peels over time, making this a common repair.
Some techs have encountered problems when recoating this because they use a solvent-based coating. Since the original coating was water-based, application of solvent-based coating may result in coagulation and bubbling of the original water-based coating.
To avoid this problem: first, use flexible superglue and spread it in thin coats over the edges where the water-based coating was peeling. Then, slightly sand and taper those edges down. Then use a color-matched water-based coating and spray the repair. After drying, inspect the job. If there are still any obvious mistakes in the repair, use a water-based spray grain over the surface and then recoat.
Trivia question-What was the original intended use for cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) when it was first invented?
Explanation: According to the "Munsell Color Theory" colors react according to each other in a subtractive way. Most technicians are familiar with opposite colors, an example would be if a color is too green then you add red to kill the dominant color. Let's think of all three colors being the exact opposite - in effect, completely canceling each other out. Think of it as white light "with the volume turned down". Incidentally, the grey would be a "neutral" grey, having no visible influence of any color.
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