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.
We are truly in a unique business and we are truly unique people. We have to be salesmen, chemists, and businessmen, but most importantly, we are artists. Our art does not sit on wooden easels, but rather on a driver’s seat of a 2002 Chevy Suburban, a cat-scratched couch, an office chair or a seat on a million dollar yacht. Wherever your job takes you it will always be full of unique clients, different locations, and challenging tasks. We’re not just paid with money but in gratitude from a happy client when they first see a job well done and scream-“Oh my Gosh, I can’t even see it, how’d you do that, it must be magic!!” We can also brag about, no glass ceiling, no cubicles, no office politics, no layoffs, no corporate downsizing. We are masters of our own destinies, the ultimate determiners of our incomes. If we want more money, we just work a little harder or longer or learn to charge more. And with that labored soliloquy, I introduce you to a new series of articles that Mobile Tech News has given us all the opportunity to participate in.
After spending many years toiling for the smallest increase in technical proficiency, Doug and I both longed for a time when closely guarded information could be shared for the betterment of the industry. We all profit from an improved perception of this industry. So we are here to answer your general questions about improving your basic skill sets necessary for survival in the ever changing mobile tech environment. Alas, we are not for everyone, rather, we are only trying to touch the lives of those technicians that want to become the best, to rise above mediocrity and reach for excellence. Our business is innately secretive, closely guarding our most treasured techniques and chemicals. Removing labels from products purchased at the local craft store to stalling for time because the job you just charged $95 for, took you all of 15 minutes. So when possible we’ll give a look at the wizard pulling the levers behind the curtain. Let’s start with some basic ingredients to a successful business.Reputation- What’s yours?
What kind of reputation do you have? What do your clients think of you as a technician and a businessman? You must think of your reputation as an investment. Like an investment you reputation will pay off. The better your reputation, the more money you are able to demand for your services. You must devote time and energy in constantly maintaining and building the image of your company. How can you protect your reputation? Here are some practical suggestions;
Ø Never accept a job that will not turn out with adequate results. The adage “you’re only as good as your last job” is sadly true. Dozens of flawless jobs can be undone by only a few bad ones. Know when to turn down a job. It might be difficult to do when a persuasive client is egging you into it, but you must stick to your guns and learn to redirect their energy into a more positive outcome. You just need to sell them on what is ultimately best for them which ends up best for you.
Ø The obvious reputation builder is to try and always do the best job that you are capable of. No matter what products that you use or techniques that you have, if you are always committed to the best possible outcome, generally speaking your results will satisfy your customers.
Ø One technique that we have always used to improve the perception of our company is to physically get the person in charge to come out and look at the work when it is finished. Once they see the change with their own eyes it can make a lasting impression.
Ø Be the expert, your customers are paying you to be an expert in your field. How do you become an expert? You start by researching, reading, taking classes, attending any and all events in the industry, networking, talking with chemists and always having an open mind with a child-like willingness to learn. We have seen many students attend our classes that profess to know everything there is to know about this business. Later they discover that there is a whole other world of information that they didn’t know about. When you’re green you grow and when you’re ripe you rot. Always be willing to learn and be open to new ideas and chemicals as the industry is constantly going under technical transformations. We at Matri-x are always learning from the valuable input our students give us.
Quality verses quantity?
After teaching a class many years ago, I was confronted by a belligerent student while nursing an adult beverage. He blurted “I ain’t got time for all that prepping crap, I just grab my spray can and go”. I tried to counter with a meager attempt at defending my mantra of quality takes time….blah, blah, blah, only to be rebuked with “I do thirty cars a day, I’m done at 2:00 and take the rest of the day and play golf”. So there you have it, two sides of the proverbial coin. One is the vinyl gypsy, the shaker shooter, the rattle can Romeo, the man with an overdeveloped index finger, and the other camp are those that believe that your work is a spiritual extension of yourself. That your work in essence is how you feel about yourself and the standards that you work towards. This is a common argument in our industry creating more violent partisanship than an arm wrestling match between Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich. I can only say that if you want to be considered a master craftsman, heed this advice, “Put down the Saddletan, and step away from the Impala”. By the way, there are always happy mediums, where sufficient quantity meets happily with great quality. This brings us to the next point.Underselling and overproducing? Good!
If you reduce down the most important philosophical underpinning of this business it could be said no simpler than this; undersell and overproduce. Whuat? Let’s break it down.
Undersell: to present the merits of something or somebody with too little enthusiasm or conviction or in too restrained or understated way.
Yeah, that’s it, restrained and understated. The trick is to do it in such a way that inspires confidence that the repair is in no better hands than yours. Whatever results that you produce are the best to be expected. We always use numbers and percentages like, I can’t get it to a 100%, but would you be satisfied with 95%. The answer is always, yes. Now you deliver 97% and you’ve just overproduced, you exceeded the customer’s expectations. Good!
When to use C/A (Superglues) and when not to:
Recently we received a call from a man that was not happy with the results he was getting on his velour repairs. After a short troubleshooting session the man revealed that he was using C/A for his velour adhesive. He was unhappy with the feel and longevity of the repairs. We received a call from a man that wanted to make better repairs on door panel armrests, he too was unhappy with the resiliency of the C/A repairs. When is it okay to use C/A? Let’s first clear up what C/A is. It is not to be used as eye drops, as a poor monk from Thailand thought it was as he squeezed four drops into each eye, He said “in about a minute, my eyes felt cold and then sealed shut”. Fortunately for him, there was no permanent damage to the eye and doctors used acetone (please don’t try this at home) and surgery to unstick the eyes. C/A is short for Cyanoacrylate. Cyanoacrylate is an acrylic resin that cures almost instantly in the presence of hydroxyl atoms in water. There are many different thicknesses and formulations used for various purposes in our industry. Our rule at Matri-x is to never use C/A on flexible surfaces such as leather, soft vinyl or cloth. While the adhesive properties of C/A may be incredible, they are simply not flexible or elastic enough for these types of surfaces. The best adhesives for any application are those that most closely resemble the material that you are adhering to. Some C/As are flexible, but not nearly flexible enough to simulate leather or vinyl. Since the materials are so dissimilar, in a short period of time, the repair degrades and cracks. Even thin applications on flexible door panels will develop “spider cracks” as the glue simply cannot withstand the flexing. It’s okay to use the appropriate C/A on rigid and semi-rigid parts such as hard door panels, most plastic panels and some types of repairs on dashboards. The C/A’s that are blended with rubber will make the adhesive more flexible and should be your first choice whenever possible.
What color do you get when you mix yellow, red and blue together in equal intensities according to Munsell’s Color Theory?
Stay tuned for future installments when we answer your technical questions and tackle every day issues such as
Ø Product knowledge-how much do you have?
Ø Beauty or strength?
Ø Continuing education. (how many ways to do a repair)
Ø Balancing your customer load.
Ø Your worst competition-bad work.
Ø Why water-based coatings should be your only choice for leather work.
If you have a technical question you would like answered or would like to contribute your own advice, please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use your advice, we will credit your company and name so please include with email.