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Episode Description

It’s no secret that women in the Automotive Repair Industry are outnumbered by their male counterparts. This week on Digital Shop Talk Radio, we discuss this gender gap with a group of women who have embraced their roles in the industry and their respective communities as leaders among their peers and have helped shape the landscape of the automotive industry.

This week, the panel includes 2018 Female Shop Owner of the Year Kathleen Jarosik (Xpertech Auto Repair – Englewood, FL) and Kim Hickey (ATI Coach for the last 14 years) who have both demonstrated their passion, innovation, and commitment to the independent Auto Repair Industry in their own special ways.

Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated using Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you notice an error, please contact [email protected].

Dustin Anaas (00:01):
Actually, okay. It says setting up your webinar for Facebook Live. I got a little bar in front of me, then it’ll give me a little countdown.
Kathleen Jarosik (00:12):
I don’t know. On our side it says we are streaming live.
Tom Dorsey (00:14):
Yeah, that’s what it says.
Kathleen Jarosik (00:17):
So we simmer down and behave. Good luck.
Tom Dorsey (00:21):
That’s going to happen.
Kathleen Jarosik (00:22):
Yeah. Good luck with that.
Tom Dorsey (00:24):
Are we good? Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Digital Shop Talk Radio. Got a great show for you today because we’re talking about women that are shaping the automotive industry and look out because they’re fast on your heels, and I couldn’t have two better guests for you than Kim Hickey from ATI. You guys know Kim, she’s been on the show in the past and probably has done business with you in some fashion, or you want to do business with her if you are a smart, savvy operator. And I’ve got Kathleen Jarosik from Xpertech Auto Repair and another fantastic operator. And Kathleen, if I’m not mistaken, you’ve been recently awarded for being a leader, a woman leader in the industry. Did I get my facts straight?
Kathleen Jarosik (01:11):
Yes, that is correct. I was graced with the honor of being named the 2018 female shop owner of the year by women in Autocare and the Autocare Association at Apex last year. So it’s been Congratulations. It such an honor. Really. I did not expect that at all. And am truly humbled by the women that I looked at all the pictures of all the other winners and I was like, wow, I’m one of them now. So it’s really awesome. I love it.
Tom Dorsey (01:39):
Join the club, right? Yeah. And then you’re going to change it from the men’s club to the women’s club. Actually,
Kathleen Jarosik (01:44):
I’m one of the cool kids now,
Tom Dorsey (01:47):
And Kim, I mean you’ve been a successful operator for years and then said, you know what? I’m so good at this. Let me go help other folks. And I got to tell you, if you’re not involved in ATI and you don’t know Kim, you should. I’ve talked to probably all of your shops, Kim, and to the person Kim is the best thing that we’ve done in our business. And so how do you get from breaking into this industry to having that type of a reputation from all operators? I mean, these are the best of the best in ATI saying thank you to Kim Hickey. I wouldn’t, I’d quit ATI if I had to lose Kim as my coach.
Kim Hickey (02:28):
Well, one, you’re very good for my ego. So I just want to bask in that afterglow for a moment. Looks good. I
Tom Dorsey (02:35):
Can see it in the background.
Kim Hickey (02:36):
So as you mentioned, I was a shop owner, so like hair club for men. I’m not only a client, I was a client, right? So I started a shop by accident many, many years ago, probably 30, 31 years ago. I started it by accident. I lived in a retirement community and moved out there to take care of my grandparents. Their health was failing. And so part of that was taking them, a doctor, taking their car to get fixed, all of those things. And I went into a shop. We had gone to Colorado and I, we were on some mountains and different things. I want to have the brakes checked out and the shop charged me $25 or $30 a tire to take out the high altitude Colorado air put in Arizona Air. I was 20, didn’t sound right to me, but I was leaving. I said no.
And then they were like, well, if you don’t care about your grandparents getting an accident, hopefully they have good reflexes if there’s a blowout. So I thought, oh my God, I’m going to kill Nana and pops. Go ahead and do it. And then I called my friends in New Jersey that I grew up with and said, Hey, this happened and they want to know what the address was and what size trunk they needed to bring in. I said, no, no, it’s all good here. And so the person next door to me actually was a technician. There was a shop next to where I was working and he was going to be let go because they changed over to a tire shop and he couldn’t keep up with the pace. He was one of those old school mechanics that just reaped cigarettes and leftover and Miller beer and just, there was no way he was going to be busting tires.
And so I was like, what are you going to do? And he is like, I don’t know. So I said, can you fix my nana and pops car in my driveway? So he came over and did that, and then my grandparents’ friends were like, can he help with us? Can he help with us? And my fiance at the time, who is now my ex-husband, but he used to fix floor glyphs and I wanted him to do, he is like, I don’t want anything to do with cars. And I said, why? He goes, because car people are crazy. If you fix their wiper blades and their brake go out the next day they blame you. And I said, you are stupid. You don’t know what you’re talking about. No customer would thinks that. So many years later, join ATI. The business grew and grew after there were like 14 cars in my driveway, my neighbor said, no, we’re not doing this anymore.
Got a little metal corrugated building, looked like it was out of a ZZ top video. Literally cows would walk through. It used to be a chicken shack for fried chicken. So it was the whole, and it just exploded the business because of people looking for an honest place to come. And besides the honesty, I think they really were looking for somewhere to make them feel like home because they want to trust, they want a relationship, they don’t want to be transactional. And then I bought another building in town and it just grew. And I found myself doing over a million dollars a year in sales, but I wasn’t keeping any money and I was working till 12 o’clock at night and all the weekends. And I actually joined ATI. And so they taught me how to figure out what my actual costs were and not to call all the other shops in town and say, how much should I charge for labor?
Are you guys going up? What are you doing? And so it just evolves from that. And then once you get everything aligned in your business and start working truly on the business in it, I found myself very bored. So Brian and I were talking, and I like to be busy and do things. So he was like, why don’t you come and do this? And then that rolled into full-time and then I wound up selling the business and all that. So really long way of answering you, I don’t know if I even answered your question, but you did just years of experience, school, hard knocks, fighting the fight, overcoming obstacles, people not wanting to deal with you. You are a female not wanting to take you serious. And it was an uphill climb for a long time. So
Tom Dorsey (06:36):
I mean, that’s an incredible story. I mean, you literally started out like shade tree in your driveway and back in carport. Yeah, in a period of time. Where are you kidding me? Your jobber probably wouldn’t even return your phone calls and stuff, right?
Kim Hickey (06:52):
No. Yeah, there’s even a time. One of the times one of my techs gave me, which we call the mechanics then, but technicians now. So gave me bolts or something to match up and I went to the parts store and I handed them and I said, my tech said I need these. So they gave me some and they didn’t look the same. And I said, they don’t look the same. They said, don’t worry, honey. Go back and your technician will know what to do with it. Well, I went back and my tech cursed me up a blue streak said You had one job, I gave you the piece to go there and match it up. And so they kind of would purposely messed with me on, but it’s okay. I remembered everybody’s name and as I grew and grew and to the million dollars and more, I knew who treated me respectfully coming up and who thought it was a big joke and a lot of fun to do that.
Tom Dorsey (07:45):
Yep. And now look at you. So Kathleen. Yeah, exactly. So Kathleen, I mean, did you have a similar story? How’d you end up in that chair?
Kathleen Jarosik (07:57):
Well, honestly, back in 2003, my oldest daughter was turning two. My husband at the time was at the top of his game in the Fort Lauderdale area. We decided we did not want our child to grow up and go to school over there. A little too busy for us. So we found this accidentally, found this little town called Englewood on the Gulf coast of Florida. Came over, looked at one shop, really didn’t feel right. It was a little too much for first out, first starting out. And then this building fell into our laps. It wasn’t for sale. The owners wanted to meet us and they passed the torch to us. And then six years later then I did not know how you spelled carburetor. I didn’t know anything about cars other than how to drive it in or hand him the keys in the morning and say, here it needs an oil change. And I worked in bottled water and various other industries, but never car. And so I said, well, I can run a business, how hard could it be?
And so there’s no book by the way. It’s like becoming a parent. They don’t give you an owner’s manual. So six years later we parted ways as a married couple and then I bought him out of the shop and he went to work for our local General Motors Chevrolet dealership for about eight years. We decided the school is right across the street, the elementary school where both of our kids went. So I could still be a mom, get him to the doctor, run the business, make a living, support them, he can wrench anywhere. He’s very talented. And then of course I had no idea what I was doing and I struggled. I like you, I was growing sales, I was kicking butt and I was not bringing any money home. Everybody was getting paid except for me. And I always tell people my pivot point was about three and a half, four years ago when I reached out and hired a coach and I’m an implementer, so they give me three things to do and say, okay, I’ll talk to you next week.
And 20 minutes later I’m in email and going, I’m done. Now what? And so I want to win. I want to win. I would love, I’m a fellow Kim, you watch that. That’s it. I’m going to be in that chair someday. But yeah, I went to a women in auto care conference. I had reached out to another shop owner randomly on the internet, did not know it was a woman, and ended up at their conference in Orlando in 2016 and fell in love with the industry and that I wasn’t a unicorn anymore. I’ve always felt at all the conferences, I was the only woman in the room. I have three older brothers. I grew up with my dad. My mom worked full-time, so five older boy cousins. I trained my whole life for this crazy industry. So I’m used to being the only girl and I can hang.
But like Kim had said, it was really a challenge when I worked, I used to be the do all for upfront. I ran the business, I was the service advisor, the customer service rep, the parts runner, the parts returner, you name it, I did it except for wrench. And when they play games with you like that and send you to the store for a canoer valve and muffler bearings, it’s challenging. But you’re right, you do remember the ones that take you by the hand and go, okay, let me teach you how this works and how that works. And then to pop the bubble, my former husband came back to work for me about a little over two years ago. He’s my lead technician. Like I said, he is super talented and professionally we make one heck of a team. So he runs the back most part, he takes care of the techs and what gets done.
And my service advisor, who is my director of Wow, takes care of the front and I get to work on the business now instead of in it. And it’s kind of boring. I totally related when you said that, Kim, I’m like, yeah, I get really bored. So I do a lot of chamber stuff and things, but my favorite, I think when people walked in the door that I don’t see as much now thank goodness is Hey, good morning. How can I improve your day? Is how I usually greet people and they’d say, yeah, I want to speak to somebody who knows something. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten those exact words and realized that that was an opportunity to educate an entire group of people that I would joke with some and say, I know how to raise your bill a half an hour every time you say that, so why don’t you give me a shot? But it’s been a challenge. But I think that we see less and less of that stigma anymore, especially in the front of the house and the running of the businesses. I still see a lot of female technicians that not here, unfortunately, we don’t have a lot here, I wish we did. But on Facebook groups and stuff that are challenged with people not giving them a chance and thinking they’re not as good and that they can’t be as successful as a man. So we still have hurdles
Tom Dorsey (13:04):
And because now I talked to a lot of guys that say, let me back that up. A lot of shop owners that say that they actually prefer to hire at the front counter, especially a female employee, easier to, they’re more empathetic, they’re more approachable. They usually are nicer. And because one of the big barriers, because it’s on both sides of the fence, I can only imagine what you go through as a trailblazing female shop owner. But then at the same side of it, the motorists who go into a shop, especially an all male shop or something like that, and these are things that they’re not expected to know. You get the type of answers you got, Hey, don’t worry that it doesn’t look anything like the other one. It’s going to work. You just don’t know what you’re talking about. And of course it doesn’t because common sense is a hard thing to deny, but they have that same stigma or that same fear when they get in there.
And that’s what a lot of times I think ends up why online has been such a bridge for folks like that. Because in the past you might have not approved work if you don’t understand it and you feel intimidated, you might have said, I’m not even going to take my vehicle and I have to have my husband do it, or I have to have my dad do it, or something like that. And then I mean, come on, how restrictive is that? And to be able to go in and I think and do things that how the technology has brought education to the forefront. And then like you said, being able to go in and talk to somebody who’s a peer and somebody who you can very much relate to and is able to provide that education. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s really the most important thing to make you feel comfortable, make you feel like you’re in the right place and help you to understand stuff because we’re not dumb. We just need some information. And if you’re just going to mock me, I’ll go to Kim’s shop. Right,
Kathleen Jarosik (15:03):
Tom Dorsey (15:06):
And so what was the biggest challenge you would say, because you really jumped into the frying pan it sounds like. Yeah, you’d had operational experience, but to be able to say, I’m going to buy out my husband and I’m going to take these reins and I’m going to become this business owner now, what was the biggest challenge that you found?
Kathleen Jarosik (15:26):
I would say learning how to, so like I said, I didn’t know anything really about cars or theory or any of that. So I used my Tupperware days. I was a Tupperware consultant for a little while, and if you don’t believe and understand something and have any kind of passion for it, if I don’t love it, how can I make you love and understand it? So we would go to conferences and conventions and you’re like, look, it’s a new plastic bowl. And we would get so excited. And so I tried to bring that energy into the business here. Obviously we are way more about building relationships. I have a couch, we sit next to our clients on a couch. We get to know them about their kids, their grandkids, their pet iguana, their bunny rabbits, and I mean stuff that, their health issues. They come here and talk to us and this is way more than an auto repair shop.
And so then when it comes time for those repairs to really sit down and have the technicians educate me on what does this part actually do? And then to be able to translate that into layman terms where people can understand and make it relatable. I’m a real visual person, so I need to understand it and then be able to turn it around and make someone else understand it and them make an educated decision as well as feel comfortable that the ones that don’t care to know the details that they trust, that I know the decision that I’m making. So getting the knowledge behind it I think was probably the most challenging piece. It took me, I would say probably a good three or four years day to day to day on the front counter to learn how to speak car and then how to turn around and speak client. And obviously I don’t have a problem talking to people. That helps. And I will tell you, it was really frustrating. A lot of women used to come in and go, oh, I just trust you because you’re a woman. And I was like, wait,
Tom Dorsey (17:36):
It’s just as bad.
Kathleen Jarosik (17:37):
It it’s, and I said, that does not make it so that I will not take advantage of you any differently than a man at any other shop. So I really wish you would eradicate that verbiage and thought process from your vocabulary. And I want you to trust me because you trust me and you trust that I’m going to do the right thing for you. And that’s kind of the whole culture of what we’ve built the shop around and it was a challenge. But we’ve gotten there and I hired a man up front for a little while and people didn’t want to talk to him. I felt bad. Great kid. I mean, I’ve known him for 150 years and the clients were not receptive to a male being in the front office. They’ll talk to a male technician all day, but not a male in the front office. So he was too technical I think for them. Sure, not fuzzy enough.
Tom Dorsey (18:27):
Yeah. Well that’s what it really boils down to is the credibility. Because what a tough role that has to be is because you have to know the tech speak, so you get the credibility from the back of the shop and you have to be able to show, especially some of these guys who would walk in and say, lemme talk to somebody who knows something. You have to be able to say, yeah, that would be me, by the way, the owner, and let me school you on some of that. And then you establish that credibility, but it’s not just handed to you because you look the part. Right. So Kim, let me ask you something. You analyze a lot of data and you have helped a big cross section of shops. Do you notice a difference in a strong team where there’s a female in that lead role, co-owner, owner, and in a customer facing role versus shops that might be all male or, oh, my wife does the marketing, she’s in the back type thing, right.
Kim Hickey (19:28):
Well, I think today there’s almost been a flop of things. And it used to be going back to what you were just discussing, where men used to come in and say, let me talk to somebody knows something. Men don’t know anything about cars anymore.
I mean, who does? You look under the hood and you’re like, holy Toledo, people are not fixing their cars at home. They’re not tinkering the driveway, they’re not showing their kids. That’s part of why we have such a text shortage. There’s nothing grooming. These kids are getting the spark. So having a female at the counter that men perceive as not knowing as much, it’s almost a comfort zone to them. And they’re more comfortable being honest and saying, I don’t really understand this, where they would not say that to a male service advisor. And having honestly, the digital, you’re going to think this is a purpose plug for you, but it’s not. But digital inspections, it’s also level the playing field. Because when you have that red, yellow, green, it doesn’t matter what the customer knows or if it’s a man or woman, it doesn’t matter what the advisor knows or man or woman, and I mean not, doesn’t matter what they know, but you know what I’m saying, it levels the field.
And so now we’re talking about visuals and not having to be so technical anymore and giving all the information that ohm readings and all the other things that used to be discussed. And so it makes it an advantage that there’s a female there that maybe they don’t know. And to be a female, I just want to say you have to know more than everybody else. You have to work harder, you have to be more confident, and you have to be ready to take a lot more punches because they will look to knock you off your feet. And you have to show that you’re steady, you’re confident. And the easiest way to do that is if you don’t know something just straight up, you know what? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know the perfect person that does. Give me one minute and I will get that person for you.
So when you talk about teams, if you have a team that operates like that and there’s trust from the front to the back, male or female, whether it’s female tech, female front or whatever, that they can say, I don’t know that, but I know where I can get that answer. And they know they have that support for somebody to help them and walk them through and then explain whatever. And the roles of the wives of the shop owner, I mean, are huge lead change now. It used to be like you said, oh, they do the marketing or they cut the payroll, but they’re a lot more active role because women for the reasons, many, many to cite off, but I won’t. But what my male shop owners tell me is the women have a better eye for detail. They want a female at the counter. They want somebody that pays a little bit more attention to everything. Just even when the appearance men kind of walk in, they don’t notice the coffee pots empty or there’s something on the floor or just even any of those things, somebody looks lost. So that
Tom Dorsey (22:26):
All wearing this shirt for four days,
Kathleen Jarosik (22:28):
The magazines are 17 months old,
Tom Dorsey (22:32):
Kim Hickey (22:34):
And unfortunately it’s going to sound bad coming from a woman, but as Kathleen just said, women trust women instinctively and they shouldn’t. I mean, I know just as many dishonest women as I do men, right? A hundred percent. It’s crazy to me that anybody would come in and say, okay, I trust you because you are female. So it’s like we still can’t get away from those roles no matter how we try. It’s just instinctive. It’s really an interesting thing to watch. I mean it truly is.
Tom Dorsey (23:11):
And it’s great though because you start the conversation, it’s great. That person as at least has their walls are down. And then you can set those expectations. You can educate ’em on that. Just the same look, don’t just take my word for it. Like you said, here’s this digital inspection, this is what this means. Here’s this educational information to help you to learn. And that goes for anything, right? Don’t just rely on what I say because I got a badge on or something. Educate yourself because it’s really what it all boils down to. And then when you can get the right education and you can have somebody because you have to look at it, especially young girls. Both of my daughters are driving now. I think Sydney just went to her first shop visit. And so that was an experience. But at the end of the day, of course, I sent her to an AutoVitals shop. So then she just had a lot of questions about what is this picture of and what is this video? But she spent the time to watch it and then had really intelligent questions that she asked to the shop and went away from it thinking I’m empowered. I handled it. I didn’t need my dad to do it. I paid for it myself, which was a double bonus.
And now guess what? Now she maintain her vehicle because she’s not afraid to go.
Kim Hickey (24:31):
When you think about history and you look at conventional or traditional roles, usually the man used to go off to work and the woman ran the whole household. I mean, they ran the kids, they ran the repairs, they talked to the contractors, they handled the budget, they did all of that stuff. And so when now in today’s world with the automotive business being what it is, the automotive business is not about fixing cars anymore. It’s not the guy or the gal going and working on a car and then that’s it. The owning a shop is so much more. You’re a psychiatrist, you are a marriage counselor, you are a babysitter, a budget person, you’re a grief counselor, you’re grief counselor, you’re all kinds of things. You’re an educator. There’s so many facets that’s fixing the cards and I’m not taking anything away from a technician or it’s very difficult, but that is almost periphery, that fixing the car, that whole other part of the business where women really just instinctively fall into all of those other pieces. So it’s a natural fit that it’s shocking that it took this long to evolve if you just even think about it.
Tom Dorsey (25:48):
Yeah, and it’s funny because if we look in history, my grandmother was a riveter in the war in World War ii. She went out, I mean nobody had any problem with her being on the factory floor, pounding rivets, working with all this tools and equipment and fire. She went out of there and she became an engineer. She worked at Texas Instruments, cutting wafers in Silicon Valley, right, in some of the first computers. And that’s amazing. That type of thing. I used to, because we were a very close kind of family. And so we would talk a lot about that is how she got into that and the pressures and some of the discriminations that she had back then because that was a really a man dominated type industry as well. And I think that it’s like you said, it’s just once you sit down and listen to what my grandma knew, she had so much knowledge, instant credibility, and then all of those kind of stereotypes go out the window because if we’re looking to serve our customer and if we’re looking to do the best job and do well in our community, who cares, right?
It’s about educating the folks, giving them good service, taking care of ’em. And like you said, is having the empathy to come in and bring them in and make them feel comfortable and then really lower that fear of going out and maintaining their vehicle because it’s not about repairs anymore. And you need those folks coming in and maintaining their vehicle even when there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s time. And because we’re going to prevent. And that’s a hard return customer to get. If they don’t feel comfortable in your business, they just won’t come back. So what do you think is the next steps? What do you think is, so both of you had said that you kind of get to a point where you’re so expert at what you do that you become almost bored. How do you push the industry forward? How do you keep blazing that trail? And I’ll start with you Kathleen. What’s next for you? What are you looking to do? What’s the next big goal in your life as far as that career development goes?
Kathleen Jarosik (28:00):
I will tell you, so short term, obviously I want to get my shop running at peak performance. There’s always the peaks in the valleys. And when we say for myself, when I say I get bored, I’m in this little office back here doing books and paperwork and marketing and I’m working on the business, which is a fantastic job except that my passion is really working in it. I love those people and they are the reason that I get up and get out of bed every morning. I mean, the paycheck is great and all of the awards and the accolades and all that, it’s fantastic. But there are days where I blow off everything I have to do in this office. Please don’t tell my business coach. I’m sure he is not listening and I sit in that office and just chat with people all day long.
But that is an investment in my business as well. But I miss that. That is what I say when I’m bored, I can see I have a stained glass window here that I can see out, but it prevents, we said people from talking to me, it’s really preventing me from talking to them and not getting any work done. But I can see people and I love to interact. I’ve gotten a lot more involved in the community, which I think is a huge growth. I’m on our Chamber of commerce board this year and I’ve done the leadership group. I’m always out there doing fundraisers and community events and things long-term for me, I would say once my youngest daughter is a freshman in high school starting Monday, I think I might die. I have a senior and a freshman this year, lucky me. And so I’ll tell you, when she gets out of high school, I would love to go and either, obviously I would love to coach and give back the amazing knowledge that I have spent the last few years acquiring and hopefully teaching it to somebody that starts way younger than I did.
And to see them be much more successful, but to speak, I love to publicly speak, so if I can inspire somebody to do anything, it doesn’t even have to be automotive or whatever it is, is to come overcome that fear and do what you love and be passionate about it and go to bed tonight a little bit better than you were when you woke up this morning. That is a goal for me. I mean, my mom was, you talked about your grandmother was so awesome. My mom was as a financial controller for a multimillion dollar broadcasting company that owned seven television stations around the country in the late seventies all the way through the nineties. So all four foot eight of her with her heels on in her really big hair. That was a fully male dominated industry. I remember going to work with her and her being the only woman that was not a secretary or administrative assistant and in some sort of a support role, she was the boss. And so to have that kind of role model was really wonderful. And then of course, a bunch of brothers that taught me that I’m absolutely no different than any boy out there in just a fight. So I mean, my goal is to teach that to any, especially other young women that are out there, encourage them to be a part of this industry or whatever industry they find a passion for.
Tom Dorsey (31:17):
Yes. Have you ever done clinics for new motorists or female drivers and have ’em come over because yeah, you can help them to understand how the car works and what kind of maintenance needs are, and you kind of capture ’em some future business, but then also you get to expose ’em to female run business. And you don’t have to be afraid and consider this as a career path. Gosh, do we need techs and gosh, do we need talented people in the industry? And you, exactly what you said is you kind of say, look, there is an opportunity over here. It isn’t like that, or it isn’t that stereotype anymore. It is what you make of it. And they go away, like you said, they go away with a little bit of extra knowledge and another maybe opportunity or something to think about in their future. And you never know. You might’ve inspired an next great A Tech that comes to work for you.
Kathleen Jarosik (32:09):
Exactly. The middle school, my daughter just left has a program that they run called autoworks, and I try to support that in every way, shape or form. Sixth grade, they come in, it’s a club they take during their school day. In sixth grade, my daughter took apart and put back together a CRV motor. It had nothing to do with her parents who were both in the automotive industry, but they disassemble and reassembled, not all the way down, but a whole lot. They did a lawnmower, they did. And I feel, and I tell everybody that’ll listen, we’ve got a lot of good vo-tech programs. We have some seeping back into high school. I really think if we’re going to start getting these kids interested, we’ve got to start hitting them at the middle school and elementary school level and teaching parents that it’s okay to be in a service industry, to be a skilled trades person, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, automotive, all of us are really struggling with finding talent and people that are passionate for it. So yeah, I encourage everybody I can. I’m like, check it out. Come tinker, come get dirty. We’re working on getting a quarterly car care class going. It’s too many opportunities and not enough time in the day, but that is at the top of my priority list to get one going for October. So any kind of, I’d love new drivers. That would be fantastic to get some of these kids in here and teach ’em how to check their oil and their dire pressure, please.
Tom Dorsey (33:40):
Yeah, we did a thing with Napa down in San Diego where we did, it was like a digital inspection day and they got five shops together and they just all got out there and they sent a Tech over and they all had their tablets and these cars would just run through and they’d give ’em quick safety checks and check their car seat installations and did some training on that as well. And they just kept ’em going through all day and they left with a copy of their digital inspection. And it was a really great way to drive awareness and then just see that those folks were focused on education, not so much and just trying to get you in the door and sell you stuff.
Kathleen Jarosik (34:14):
Tom Dorsey (34:16):
Yeah. And so that’s great. I mean, it’s a great way to get out there and do that community involvement and really just open the door up and open young minds up. We do shameless plug, not to outdo Kim’s shameless plug, which I appreciated very much, but just say that we do a thing, we call it the technician of tomorrow, where we basically do a one time kind of basic fee for a school, vocational school, even high schools. We’re in several high schools across the country, and then they get the program for life because really we just want to get a tablet in somebody’s hand, a young person’s hand. It’s so relatable to kind of what they’re doing in school, how they learn now on tablets and electronic and of course gaming in their phone. And it’s so relatable. And then we just get ’em interested in automotive and then they take the next steps, or many of them do, but one of the biggest challenges, like you said, is they just keep cutting.
I mean, I had auto shop class when I was in school and it was great. Built my car in there, and to this day, I love Mr. Kitchen, right? Love that guy. But you just don’t have that opportunity in a lot of schools anymore. And so the more that we can get somebody in and in that type of experience at your shop, even if it’s for a day or get something like the technician at tomorrow where they just start to get some excitement generated in what’s possible inside of the industry and just take the next step and educate themselves, gosh, it’s really going to help everybody because the tech shortage, I was listening, I think it was at ATI super conference. I was listening to a guy, pretty soon you’re going to be recruiting from computer science classes out of colleges, not from vocational schools or looking for mechanics. You know what I mean?
Kathleen Jarosik (36:04):
Yep, that’s what I was just going to say. I mean to the point where we are competing with the same people that Google wants. How do I stand here and say, okay, candidate, you could come work for me, wear a uniform sweats in Florida and you sweat 362 days a year and you’re going to get dirty occasionally. Let’s be honest, it’s not as dirty as it used to be. We don’t do a lot of mechanical part changes like we used to. It’s going more and more computer programming and we all know that’s where it’s going to be headed. That’ll be 90% of our work anymore. So I’d love you to do that for me for $22 an hour and you’re going to sweat and you’ll get a basic benefits package. Or you can go to this guy next to me at Google, sit at a desk and wear a T-shirt and flip flops. Nobody will ever look at you. You don’t have to really talk to anybody in the air conditioning. We’re going to pay you $35 an hour for you to sit behind a computer screen and program stuff. How am I going to compete with that? So I really think we’re going to start to see how we operate. Never in the history of me being in this business have I considered adding air conditioning to my shop as much as I have in the last year.
Kim Hickey (37:15):
A lot of shops are starting to do that now because it is, I mean, it’s pretty unbearable out there. And Tom, to go back to your point about getting out there and the schools and all of that, we try to get everybody going to even as young, believe it or not, as the preschools and bring in the little Tonka electric trucks and taking out the little battery and putting in a big battery kids, just very simple. Look what happens with a light bulb and a battery and these things to try to spark the interest and the passion that they’re not getting anywhere. And all of our shops are working a lot with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. They have badges for auto repair. And so it’s great to get them to come to your shop and to be able to educate them, their parents and just get the word out there that, because there’s two stigmas for what we’re doing.
One is a stigma of being a mechanic and then two, being a female in the automotive is a double whammy. And so lucky for me, I mean, getting able to coach shops that not all of my shops are female owned. Some of them are owned by men, some of them are couples where they have a 50 50 partnership, whatever. But to be able to really see over the past, I don’t know how many years, the women, the wives that were normally in the back doing the payroll coming up front now, and really they’re running the business. They’re for all intents and purposes running the business, but the people they’re interacting with are seeing like, wow, you do all this. Aren’t you scared to be in the cart? No. It’s like anything else you, and just really showing people that you don’t have to get into automotive by accident. And especially as a female, you can dream about as a young girl owning a shop or running a shop or being a top tech in the country. It doesn’t have to be because your parents owned a shop or your husband owned a shop or whatever. You can do that. That is available career path for you if that’s something that you’re passionate about. So that’s been really exciting to watch over the years, like the women flourishing and all of that.
Tom Dorsey (39:23):
Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And gosh, I was thinking about it. I could probably sit here for the next half an hour and name off impressive female shop owners that I’ve met since I’ve been in this business and not just the famous ones like Bogey and the ones that kind of got TV and are really doing great things. Carolyn from Luscious Garage and Jessica Gestwicki and Aaron Nielsen and Tammy Juiger. I mean, gosh, we could go on for days rape.
Kim Hickey (39:50):
Look at Chris Tosa, what she’s doing with all female technicians. I mean, that’s amazing. Incredible.
Tom Dorsey (39:55):
It’s incredible, right? And that really, really, and Luscious is really to do that with her shop and then go out and tackle a software and build a point of sale and met her. She’s such an unassuming person and it just seems matter of fact, she’s so mellow. It’s like, how can you manage all of this stuff and be so cool? Right? I’d be going, ah, leave me alone. I know.
Kathleen Jarosik (40:20):
Maybe she’ll get on one of these and tell us how she does that and stay so chill all the time.
Tom Dorsey (40:26):
Great idea. Should have brought her in. I would
Kathleen Jarosik (40:27):
Love that. Come on Carolyn, going out now.
Tom Dorsey (40:30):
Get in here. Call Kathleen.
Kim Hickey (40:32):
It’s really been fun to watch the daughters grow up in the shop too and take it over. Like Brittany, you deal with Brittany Schindler at Rod’s Japanese. I mean, awesome. She’s been in there since she was 16 or 17 and overnight she took over the whole shop. I mean, she’s incredible. It’s just been wonderful. It’s been wonderful to watch.
Tom Dorsey (40:54):
I just met Mike Bruno’s daughter a couple weeks back at a workshop. She’s really moving in and she’s going to be taking over and so excited and just hungry for information. And I mean, it’s just fantastic. And it’s just such a great opportunity for people. They just have to consider it. And I think it’s as easy as just open the door a little bit and show on the other side and then here they come. And to be honest with you, be the salvation of the industry. If we can get ’em involved, we need the techs. We need the smart people coming in. We need the help and we need the vision for the future. And I tell you what, like you said, the cigarette wreaking guy that just wants to known and they don’t have the vision. They don’t have the vision.
Kathleen Jarosik (41:40):
Yeah, that’s not our ideal candidate for jobs anymore. Unfortunately,
Kim Hickey (41:47):
That guy that can fix anything with bailing wire and a coffee can. Yeah, that doesn’t work anymore. That used to be a, I remember 30 years ago, oh God, I got this guy. He can crawl, can fix anything with a bailing wire and a coffee can and you’d be amazed. And that was almost like a bragging point that I nabbed that guy now I would be like, oh my God,
Kathleen Jarosik (42:11):
What do I do with this guy now? You won’t put the wire away.
Tom Dorsey (42:16):
The bailing wire didn’t even fall off on the highway.
Kim Hickey (42:19):
Oh, I know. It was seriously a thing that I was proud of. They could fix anything.
Tom Dorsey (42:25):
Now all I’ll do is to short out all your computers in your car, be on the side of the
Kathleen Jarosik (42:29):
Exactly. Exactly. Oh my gosh. It’s amazing to see how much the technology changes. You used to be able to do that kind of stuff. People are like, oh, just don’t worry about it. I’m like, I remember a day where you could leave a cat code engine light on for a little while and you’re like, ah, it won’t cause any problems. You’ll be fine. You can’t do that today. And I think that’s a huge piece of the industry and our responsibility as frontline folks is to really educate the consumers because the dealers aren’t doing that anymore. I bought a new car and that guy, regardless of the fact of what I do for a living, did not really take the time to show me a ton of the features and how they work. I mean, I didn’t buy anything super crazy. I don’t want to pay to fix it, and I know better. And so nothing that opens by itself, but that’s not true. I have a convertible, so we all know where that’s going in Florida, but I have tons of clients to come in and that’s my job now. I go out and teach them how to work their brand new car that I’m not going to get to work on for five years, but I teach them how their wipers work and how their Bluetooth works, and I set up their phone and I do the
Kim Hickey (43:35):
Child safety lock for Pete’s sakes, child
Kathleen Jarosik (43:37):
Safety locks. Oh my goodness. I’ll tell you, the AC button is the nemesis of everybody here. Kim’s going to start laughing. I cannot tell you how many AC systems I fix every single come like March or April when it starts getting warm, it does get actually cold here for about two months, I would say usually average about two months a year where it’s actually cold and they have to turn the heat on, especially the elderly people. It is what it is. I’m getting there. So they bump that AC button and they turn it off and then come when it gets hot, they can’t figure out why their AC is not cool. It just suddenly doesn’t work. And I’m like, give me one second. And I go push the button. And they’re like, you fixed it. I’m like, yep. See this button right here?
Why does it do that? I’m like, just push the button, make sure the light’s on. Don’t worry about it. And industry changed like that. To give you guys one more plug so that we’ve all done one, Kim was talking earlier about how things change and our credibility and things. Having a DVI as a tool has really forced and is going to force a lot of that. We have that stigma of being a dishonest trade, and I’ve suffered that. I’ve felt it firsthand. I’ve walked into shops, especially when I was much, much younger, where you get that this happened because of that, your alignment, your alignment’s off because you ran over something and nothing’s bent. But I mean just kind of not real solid honest answers on stuff. And I think the DVI has, like Kim said, leveled the playing field, but it’s really going to separate the people that are in this to do the right thing from the people that aren’t.
And I think that is a phenomenal tool that we are able to use my clients. Although I thought, oh, I don’t think they’re really going to be into this. They love it. I mean, my guys hate it. They hate it. It slows me down. It doesn’t, but it doesn’t anymore. But it’s still that in their minds, their perception is that it’s going to slow them down, which in the beginning it does, but it’s worth the investment. But now they see the benefits of it and how my service advisor doesn’t have to fight with somebody, she shows them a picture of a leaking shock or of a worn brake pad or of a clean air filter and a perfectly good set of brake pads or your tires are in great shape, your shocks are in really good shape. Take this with you and here’s good and here’s a challenge.
And I think that taking the guesswork out of all of that with real words and real pictures on vehicles is really changing the face of what we do and making it much easier for us to educate our clients the public. And really it makes it so we don’t have to work so hard. We really don’t. I mean, this is what it is. You choose to fix it or you don’t. I’m not telling you something. It isn’t. Please make a decision. Help me educate you to make a good choice so that you’re safe. They could never do that to you with Nana’s car anymore. Not with a DVI could they Kim look at that picture and go, that looks fine to me. I don’t see a problem here. And so show me what’s good. Show me what bad looks like. Show me what. And I think that that is such a phenomenal tool that if anybody owns a shop and is not using a DVI of some sort, especially obviously AutoVitals, if they’re not using something like that, even if it’s so much as they’re taking pictures on their camera phone and showing it to people, put some transparency in it.
Do this for your clients, not as an inconvenience because it raises the entire industry when we are all being completely transparent. So I mean, I just think that that’s the next big challenge. Us as women have to overcome a lot of the stigma and things like that. And I think honestly for me growing up, that’s a part of my entire life is setting myself aside. So it’s something that’s become normal and the next generation won’t have to fight so hard. It’s no different than gender issues or sexuality issues or anything like that. It’s going to get less and less in Italy erode over time. But the industry as a whole I think is something that we all need to really work for changing and upgrading the image of the entire industry and who we are and what we’re out here trying to do collectively. I mean, I don’t have competition. We’re in a BDG group that we’ve kind of just started and I’m so excited to get to work with some of the talented people in our area that we’ve never really had the time to do before. So I think that we are all collectively as an industry, we really need to learn to play nice in the sandbox and help each other to do the right things.
Tom Dorsey (48:37):
And like you said, and the transparency that the tool brings is going to change those shops that that still want to maintain that narrative and still kind of be a little shady. They’re extinct. They won’t
Kim Hickey (48:52):
Be in business. They won’t be in business. The public is too smart today. They’re not going to. I see so many of those going out of business now and rightfully.
Tom Dorsey (49:03):
And so then what’s left is the divide up, and you’re right, Kathleen, is you don’t really have to be in competition. There’s enough cars to go around, let’s work together, let’s advance the industry, let’s get people interested in it. So we’ve got a labor pool to draw from in the future and protect ourselves as independent business owners. That in a nutshell is really, I think one of the biggest challenges that are coming. So much pressure from Carl Icahn and all of these hedge funds that are coming in trying to consolidate everything and then we’re all out of it.
Kim Hickey (49:34):
I’m not as worried about that because what they don’t understand is what the independents do is taking care of customers and their vehicles and educating them. It’s not transactional, it’s just not. And when you take a Carl Icahn or any of those big chains and all of that, they miss that whole, they want to go like cheers. They want to go. Everybody knows your name. They want to feel comfortable. They want to go in and tell you about their dog or their kid or their whatever. And that’s where I think that the independent shops, they’re going to continue to rise and rise and rise the good ones that are doing the right things for the right reason. Because the more transactional people get, it’s going to be worse. I don’t know about Kathleen’s kids or yours, Tom, but I mean, I do little focus groups with my sons.
They’re 24 and 22 now, and I’m like, what makes you go somewhere? I watch ’em. They Google whatever place or wherever they’re on that side of town, that’s where they go. They don’t have that loyalty. And so if you are really not wowing the customer every time, providing them with an amazing customer experience, you’re not going to trigger enough for them to go back. You’re just going to be a Google place. And so I have faith in independent auto shops that we’re going to rise above and put even more of a hurting on the dealerships and those chains than we are right now.
Tom Dorsey (50:54):
So you heard it right there. If you are worried about that, you need to call Kim, right? Because Kim is going to be your lifeline into the future. She’s going to show you how to get it done, how to get it done, right. Kathy, did you have something to add?
Kathleen Jarosik (51:08):
Well, exactly what Kim is saying is that the big box conglomeration of shops and things like that, what they lose is that personal touch. One thing they don’t really focus on and you don’t see them out there giving back to the communities. They might donate here and there, but they’re not out doing a habitat build as a group of independent auto repair shop owners. I mean, everybody knows I bleed blue and gold. I’m an NAPA shop, but a group of Napa shops that are independents out there doing a habitat build, or we’re at a chamber fundraiser function raising money for a local cancer charity, or we’re out doing whatever it is that we’re out there doing. And I think I’m going to say the bad word, I’m going to say millennial. I think that that word gets such a bad connotation. I love that generation.
They inspire me. I mean, my children are a little under that, but I see a lot of those young people and they are inspiring me to be more aware of where I put my heart. It’s not enough just to fix a car or to sit and talk with some of these people. The younger ones want to make sure that that dollar they spend with you isn’t going to some greedy money hungry machine. They want to know that they’re feeding my children, that I’m sending my children to Europe in the summertime so that they get an education firsthand on what World War II really looked like. Or I’m out in the community at one of the Pioneer days parade and I’m raising money for this, or I’m out there giving back to that. And not that I’m cutting a check for stuff. I’m physically out at these events with my blood, sweat and tears getting involved in helping to make this community better and thrive.
And I think that that is a huge piece in anybody’s business. And if they’re not doing it, they’re going to fail. Big box does not realize and really cherish that. And that’s like Kim said, they’re going to be out there because they’re going to beat us on price. But I can’t speak for every owner out there, and I can’t imagine that Kim’s going to disagree with me as a coach, but the ones that are out there shopping solely for price are not my ideal client. I want people that want to be involved and want to really cherish what we’re doing because in the absence of value, there is only price. And I don’t want just the price shoppers.
Tom Dorsey (53:43):
Exactly. Well, I mean, I know we went way over. I really appreciate you guys sticking in with me. I mean, we could go on another hour, I’m sure I got to have you back on, to be honest with you, and we got to do a part because this is fantastic. I’m sure that people are scribbling down furiously. If you want to get ahold of Kathleen or Kim, reach out to ’em directly. You can hit ’em up on a Facebook forum, Google them. They’re not hard to find and if you guys want to give plugs out, go right ahead on how somebody can get in touch with you because I guarantee you, there’s people in the audience that are really, are inspired by what you’re doing and I think it’s a beginning of a fantastic relationship. Yeah,
Kim Hickey (54:27):
I know. I’m excited that I just found out. We’re neighbors, so I know
Kathleen Jarosik (54:30):
We live so close. That’s it.
Tom Dorsey (54:32):
Yeah, this is fantastic. We’re going to
Kathleen Jarosik (54:34):
Be burning up social media with pictures of each other. That’s
Tom Dorsey (54:39):
So awesome. Well, thank you very much again, tune in next week, same time, same place. Wednesday 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern, and we’ll be doing it again with some more great guests talking about how to make this industry a better place and how to run your businesses better. Until then, share like, come on Facebook and let’s talk to you next Wednesday.
Kim Hickey (55:03):
Tom, will you be posting our contact information in case anybody wants to get in touch with us?
Tom Dorsey (55:07):
Yeah, we sure will. We’re going to send out a follow up and we’ll post it up on the Facebook forum also. Thanks, Kim, really appreciate that.
Kim Hickey (55:15):
Thank you.
Kathleen Jarosik (55:16):

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