Staff of satisfied employees the key at Certified Automotive

Jan. 1, 2020
There's the old saying that goes, "those who can't do, teach." Well, that's not necessarily true. Take the three shop professors who started Certified Automotive Specialists in Glendora, Calif.
There's the old saying that goes, "those who can't do, teach." Well, that's not necessarily true. Take the three Citrus College auto shop professors who combined their talents in 1978 to start Certified Automotive Specialists in Glendora, Calif. Or the pupil who became an employee, then a teacher, at the same college and, ultimately, the owner of Certified Automotive itself.
Following in his mentors' footsteps, Gene Morrill has never lost his capacity to teach, or more importantly, to learn. A good technician but an admitted "hardhead" when it came to commerce, he learned things the hard way before "returning to school." Besides enrolling in several business classes and visiting other shops for input and advice, Morrill has immersed himself in automotive groups like the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA).
Meeting once a month to compare notes, ask questions and analyze situations, Morrill now offers these associations his own shop as an example to learn from.
"Whether you want to call it brotherhood or fellowship, you need to be hooked up with an organization that will give you support, all the material you need and lots of encouragement, as well as possessing some kind of professional training," Morrill says.
To that end, Morrill took his schooling a step beyond the classroom by hiring a personal business coach.

"If you had a problem with say the IRS, employees, payroll, etc., you normally didn't know what to do," he explains. "(My trainer) came in for three or four days every six weeks, sat in the shop, interviewed the guys, found out what was going on and helped me solve problems. And he taught me over the past year how to do this myself."

Another practice Morrill has adopted is pre-employment checks. Determined to find more qualified employees than through an interview and a handshake, he also asks his applicants to submit to a drug test. Screening employees this way for about five years now, Morrill estimates nearly 25 percent of the applicants don't even report for the drug test.

However, turnover at Certified Automotive has never been a serious problem, primarily due to Morrill's maxim that his employees are top priority, followed by customers who are better served by this same satisfied staff.
Involving employees in social activities outside of the shop, Morrill also has hired several graduates from his alma mater, some of whom have been working for him about five years now.

"One young man, a diagnostic whiz, now makes $23 an hour," Morrill reports. And all the technicians recently got a helping hand in the diagnosis department with the purchase of factory laptop scan tools.

"We've now become the shop that everybody goes to for problems that only the dealers used to handle," Morrill proudly adds.

With the satisfied employees in the bays with top tools, that brings in happy customers and keeps Morrill happy.

"Keep the employees happy, the customers happy and the business will take care of itself," he observes. "People respect what you do, the knowledge that you have and knowing that when they come to your shop they don't have to worry about spending money needlessly. If there is ever a problem with our company, it is taken care of immediately."

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