Your vehicle is in the shop and you have questions that you believe only your mechanic can answer. You give him a call but he’s unavailable. What’s the deal? Why does my mechanic say he is occupied?
Our client services representative, Victoria, is good at talking with clients about their vehicles. She wears the hat of a service writer and many others. She’s good at her job and can answer a lot of your questions. However, sometimes you just need to talk to the mechanic. He knows the intricacies of your vehicle more than a service writer because he’s the one working on the machines day in and day out.
Why, then, when you ask Victoria if you can talk to Andrew does she say he’s occupied?
I often see memes encouraging young people to consider trade school over college. It’s true that these tradesmen are needed and that a lot of them make good money. I usually comment, “Yes, a lot of these trades pay well, but auto repair doesn’t.”
“But my mechanic makes $60 an hour!” is the response.
“No, they don’t. Far less, actually.”
“So, why does my invoice say that the labor is $60/hour?” they retort.
Ah, the confusion. I’ve had conversations with many people with this misunderstanding. Let me clear it up for you. Labor rate and a mechanics wage are two different things.
We regularly discuss whether a client should fix or replace their vehicle. Many of these clients mention its value per Kelly Blue Book (KBB) or Edmunds when making this decision. While market value comes into play when looking to buy a vehicle, it doesn’t really account for much when looking at whether keeping the vehicle and repairing it makes more financial sense.
Our family’s 1994 Toyota Corolla has a few quirks, but has been a reliable vehicle overall. Having been around vehicles so much over the years, I have a unique peace of mind about driving a vehicle of any age. Why? Because I’m educated about what’s normal, what’s not, and what to do if there is a problem. You can have the same peace of mind.
Sights, Sounds and Smells
It’s important to know how your vehicle communicates. There are many indicators when there is a problem. Being able to describe the sights, sounds and smells that could indicate a problem helps you talk to your auto repair shop so they can have a good understanding of where they should start testing and evaluating the problem. Having this information also helps you know whether you have something to be concerned about.
Fair is being told the truth even if it’s not good news.
Fair is clear communication.
Fair is meeting a high standard of excellence.
Fair is knowing you are getting good value for your money.
Fair is seeing actions align with words.
Fair is being treated with respect.
It doesn’t matter if your mechanic is great at fixing cars if you don’t feel like you are being treated fairly. I can’t count the number of times a person, especially a woman, has come into our shop with a tale or two of feeling like they’ve been taken advantage of by an auto repair shop. There are many ways people have been treated unfairly by auto repair shops but I want to focus on what being fair should look like.
What is your reaction when you see a business advertise a “quality” service or product? For me personally, a claim of quality doesn’t influence my purchasing decision. I wonder if it’s just a marketing ploy. I want to experience the quality, or hear about other’s experiences, before I trust in the claim.
Quality is a value our shop strives for, but we don’t want you to take our word for it. We want you to experience it for yourself.
So, the question really is, how do you know if an auto repair shop truly meets a quality standard?
I was talking with a friend the other day about her latest car repair experience. Her vehicle had broken down and was towed to the shop AAA recommended. After testing and evaluation, some inexpensive parts, and labor to fix the car, they received a bill for about $1,000. She was shocked that after only a couple new bolts it cost that much. She was under the impression the invoice said two mechanics made $50 an hour each for the job. There were only a few inexpensive parts, so why did it cost so much!?
Cheryl hung up the phone and thought about what she should do. She wasn’t sure the woman from the repair shop was giving her the right information. Did she really need to have all that work done? Struts, shocks, control arms, an alignment and tires? It seemed excessive.
She called her husband. They decided they should call Uncle Billy who does a lot of his own work in his driveway. She trusted his advice about cars.
This experience was so much like all the others. She was hoping this shop would be different – the woman that answered the phone seemed nice enough. It’s for this reason that she rarely went back to the same repair shop more than once or twice. They seemed to want to sell her more than what she really needed.
It’s common to be uneasy about having your vehicle serviced. Shop practices vary widely so it’s hard to know what to expect. Not surprisingly, many people have their guard up. With too many negative experiences you can lose hope. Maybe you expect “the list” or pressure tactics. Maybe you assume that no-one will look out for you so you must look out for yourself. Maybe you’d be relieved just to find a shop that will find and fix the problem the first time, charge fairly, and treat you well.
We all use our past experiences and current desires to decide what paths we take toward a solution. This includes auto service. Automotive service paths can be short and effective or long, winding, and tiresome. Whether it’s home sweet home, feeling at home at work, or feeling at home with another person, there’s always a path that got you “home”.
It all started when my car didn’t. Quite literally. My car wouldn’t start. I was at a rehearsal for a dance show when I turned to my friend and asked, “Do you have any recommendations for a mechanic?”
Her face lit up and she grabbed her bag. She reached in and as she pulled her hand out, the bag exploded in a cloud of business cards.
“I love them so much!” she exclaimed as she handed me a card. “They’re quality focused and it’s a small business run by Andrew and his wife Bethany.”
I looked down at the card and read “Marinelli Auto Service.” Clearly Amanda was happy with the service. I had an older car that needed help and I had lived here for a few years but hadn’t found a mechanic in the area that I trusted yet. So, that evening, I sent an email with a detailed description of what I was experiencing and waited for a call.
The risk was big. The statistics were against us. A mechanic may be a strong mechanic but can often be a weak businessman. Andrew knows his stuff when it comes to the cars and won’t claim to be a great businessman. He is like one of our son’s favorite books – The Little Engine that Could. Andrew is committed to rise to the summit no matter the effort.
Andrew’s perseverance is largely why he’s built a solid reputation as a knowledgeable mechanic – Andrew won’t rest until he is confident in how to fix it right the first time. A vehicle returning for the same problem is not an option. He won’t have it, and it shows in the miniscule percentage of vehicle come-backs we’ve seen since we opened in 2015.
As this year seems to have turned the whole world upside down it can be difficult to easily grasp things that we’re thankful for. However, it is times like these more than any other to stop and grab onto even the littlest things that this year has warranted thanksgiving. That’s why we wanted to share with you what we are thankful for. Maybe it will help you to realize how many things you really can be thankful for this Thanksgiving. (more…)
Jim and Jade are preparing to take their children to visit Grandma and Grandpa (a four-hour drive) over the week of Thanksgiving. Their 2005 Honda Odyssey has been trustworthy for around-town driving and the occasional weekend trip. They’ve done a fairly good job of keeping up on maintenance and repairs amidst their busy schedules. However, they’re not quite sure the vehicle is ready for a long road trip and they know it’s due to be checked. On Friday, a week before they need to leave, they call their auto repair shop to schedule that pre-trip inspection for peace of mind. Jim dials the phone. As usual, he hears Tina’s friendly voice on the other end. “Tina, hi, I would like to schedule the Odyssey for a pre-trip check. We’re planning to head out of town on Friday. Can I have the vehicle looked over and get the oil changed while it’s there?”
Amanda is one of the kindest people I know and it’s been really fun to serve her and her 2009 Saturn Vue. She’s been so wonderful in connecting her friends with us as well! In fact, she referred Victoria to us a little while back who we ended up hiring to fill the client relations role in our office!
A bit of a renaissance woman, Amanda has just a few jobs. She is full-time at Northland Church with the housekeeping team. She manages all of the children’s ministry costumes and props at Summit Church. Finally, she occasionally gets gigs at Florida Hospital acting in medical simulations. She’s an actress, a harpist, and an outdoor enthusiast.
In her vacation time she’s likely to be driving South Carolina (about twice a year) to visit family. On days off she enjoys hanging out in her hammock reading, going to parks that feature streams and lakes and riding her bike on the recreation trails. Amanda one thing that she likes about her Vue is that it has plenty of room to haul her harp around. Or her bike. Or to help a friend move. After getting to know her, it doesn’t surprise me that she enjoys using her vehicle to help others.
The only downside is that the trunk is so high off the ground. Being a small woman, lifting her harp or bicycle into her trunk is a feat! One thing she misses about her minivan is that it was lower to the ground and easier to load.
When Amanda first moved to Florida, she was going to a mechanic in Kissimmee where she lived. Then, when she moved to East Orlando, she wanted to find something closer, so her roommate, a client of ours, recommended us. She’s been a loyal client since then.
She was sold from the get go. “That first time that I came, I couldn’t find the place. Andrew came out and found my car and walked me over to the building.”
Feeling cared for from the first moment she came to us and the level of honesty and upfront communication were what kept her coming back.
“At that point I didn’t feel really confident in my ability to not be swindled over, so being willing to talk to my dad was really great. I’ve gained confidence in how to talk to my mechanic and how to handle stuff on my own for my vehicle. I have ownership of my car.”
Probably one of the biggest compliments we could get – especially from a single woman – was when Amanda told me, “The last time [I came] I didn’t even call my dad. I just took care of it.”
That is exactly what we try to do here. We want people to feel empowered to make confident decisions in taking care of their vehicle.
It’s really annoying and frustrating, if not stressful, to go in for maintenance due just a few weeks after an oil change. And then, a couple months after that, to go in for a surprise repair. You are busy. You have work, school, kids, etc. Your time is valuable. You don’t have time to be running back and forth to and from your mechanic.
While we like the relationships we’ve built with our clients, we value honoring their time, and only seeing them as few times as possible throughout the year is one indicator that we are doing our job well. Our goal is to remove the stress of going back and forth as much as possible. That’s why we’ve introduced Service Visits into the model of care we give to our clients. So, with each visit the vehicle gets a proper blend of maintenance, inspection, and repair procedures so that you don’t have to return to the shop in between visits, and you have an opportunity to plan ahead for the next visit.
We met David in December 2018. He had gotten into a collision and didn’t have a repair shop he trusted. His friend, a client of ours, recommended Marinelli Auto Service. In fact, this friend was also referred to us by a friend. We love clients who come by word of mouth because it usually means that they already have a little bit of faith in us. Between waiting on the insurance company, sourcing parts, and giving our body shop time to properly do their part, it ended up being a rather long process. It became a little stressful because in the middle of it all, David and Hanna got married! However, David being the kind, patient, and understanding guy that he is, continued to appreciate our service. (more…)
“Screeeeeech” screamed my brakes as I pulled into the parking lot. This is not a sound my car had made before. I had sensed something was off and earlier that week had asked Andrew to take a look at it over the weekend. Now it seemed urgent. I called him immediately to explain what was going on. He gave me sound advice (as he does) and I dropped my car off as soon as I was done with my errand.
You might think that because we own an auto repair shop that we’re immune to stress over car problems. Many times there is just no way around it.
First of all, our cars need maintenance and repairs just like everyone else’s. Being as that we are well in tune with maintenance schedules and preventative care, we are pretty wise about what our vehicles need and when. Our goal is always to educate our clients so that they have the same level of empowerment in servicing their vehicles, but with the added benefit of being updated whenever you schedule for service.
Secondly, our vehicle’s can develop surprises just like any other vehicle no matter how diligent we are in staying ahead of maintenance and repairs. We have the same challenge of figuring out transportation while our vehicle is in the shop. This, just like you, is more challenging when it’s a surprise that our busy schedule can’t really accommodate.
Plus, we don’t get cuts in line just because we own the repair shop. In fact, we reserve working on our personal vehicles for after shop hours so that we can continue to serve our clients well. Just like you, it’s even more challenging when it’s a complex repair and we’re down a vehicle while it gets tended to.
Then, there is the financial aspect of maintaining a vehicle. While we don’t pay ourselves for labor (because that’s obviously redundant), we still have parts costs. We still have to budget for vehicle repairs and, like you, money can be tight at times and stressful if it’s not a repair we were expecting.
Finally, the time for the repair needs to come from somewhere and it’s time that we’re not getting paid for. For us, as I previously mentioned, this means Andrew staying after hours or working more on the weekend to work on our personal vehicle.
Advantages of Owning an Auto Repair Shop
Are there advantages to owning a repair shop? Sure! We don’t have to pay labor or parts mark-up. When my vehicle makes a noise or isn’t handling quite right, I am better able to relay the relevant information to Andrew because of the time I’ve spent talking clients through their vehicle’s symptoms. Information is valuable in getting down to the bottom of the problem in a timely manner.
I am also more aware of whether or not it’s an urgent issue or something that I can keep my eye on. When I go home at night I can discuss it with Andrew. After being around the industry since before we opened the shop, I am more easily able to understand what he’s telling me. I am used to taking what he finds and explaining that to clients, so I generally don’t have a lot of questions..
However, I can still relate to you when you come in stressed about your vehicle, your schedule, finding alternate transportation, and your budget. I experience all of those things, too. Much of the time I need clarification about whether or not what I’m experiencing is urgent. This helps me to better understand what you are experiencing when you have an unexpected concern over your car.
When it comes down to it, we’re all human and vehicle’s are a man-made object. Very few of us are experts about this valuable piece of machinery we rely on to get us where we need to go. We can only be so proactive about vehicle maintenance and repairs no matter how much we know or don’t know.
After hearing that awful noise it didn’t take long for Andrew to get my vehicle up on the lift and see that the vehicle was due for new brake pads. Just like any client, he didn’t hesitate to take care of this safety issue so that I could get back into my vehicle.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I have such an attentive mechanic to take care of the vehicle I drive on a daily basis. If you don’t, I highly recommend finding one!
It doesn’t take much to get Karen Tuttle to agree to traveling abroad and form friendships with people from all cultures and backgrounds. Her role in non-profit Christian ministry traveling all over the world is a perfect fit for her. In fact, that is how I met Karen and have remained good friends with her for the past 15 years.
Coming from a family who all works for the same non-profit, and being in non-profit work herself, Karen is pretty thrifty when it comes to most things in life – especially her car. She did her research, and when she came upon the ‘05 Elantra on Craigslist while she was living in Indianapolis, she quickly figured out that this particular vehicle was known to be rather low maintenance. She met the owner and could tell they’d taken good care of it and learned they just needed something better suited to the size of their growing family.
“It’s been a great car,” she says, “I love that it’s a hatchback because I have moved several times. Also, I haven’t had any major issues crop up.” In fact, we don’t see Karen very much at the shop aside from maintenance. She says “Over the years there have been minimal times when I’ve had to bring it in for a non-maintenance issue,” which is as good as it gets for an older vehicle. It’s no wonder, then, that when she’s not on an airplane going to and fro foreign lands, she’s zipping around town in her 2005 Hyundai Elantra to visit friends homes or meeting up at a favorite coffee joint or eatery.
I call her a foodie, though she says that sounds too pretentious. Well, I guess I’m a bit pretentious because I would consider myself a bit of a foodie, which is another reason I like hanging out with Karen. I might add that I spent some time travelling with Karen. She’s definitely a person who enjoys the experience of the journey, while I just want to get to the destination. I guess this explains why Karen likes driving around to meet up with friends and I not a huge fan of driving, so I just wait for her to come to my house. We usually end up creating a delicious meal together and share life’s most recent anecdotes.
It’s quite obvious, then what initially brought her to Marinelli Auto Service – she was a bridesmaid in our wedding after all – but we’ve been very clear with her that we wouldn’t be offended if she had another shop that she trusted. She responded, “But I want to bring it to you guys!”
“I haven’t had great experiences with other independent mechanics,” she explains. “As a single woman, I’ve felt condescended to. I don’t know a lot about cars, but I try to be wise and educated. I appreciate that Andrew gives it to me straight and I don’t feel like he’s changing his communication because I’m a single female. I appreciate having people I can trust.”
Sadly, I can relate to her experience. Before meeting Andrew, going to a repair shop as a single woman was an aggravating experience.
She adds, “Andrew communicates well and in a way that I can understand, so I have learned more about my car.”
Even though she’s on a thrifty budget, Karen still feels like she’s getting a good deal when she comes to us. “I know that you all have talked about how you don’t give the discounts because you are already serving us at the best price that you can,” she relates. “Having good long-term reliable service is worth more to me than getting it cheaper. I would rather pay more for a car that is going to keep running well and have a trustworthy mechanic. I don’t have to worry about if I’m being treated well. For example, you are always willing to work with my schedule, when I’m out of the country and when I’m home. When I lived out of the state for a couple years because of a temporary work relocation, I really missed the Marinellis because I couldn’t find someone I could trust to work on my car.”
When she got back into town after her relocation, one of the first things Karen did was bring in her car for a comprehensive Inspection. “I was hoping to get several more years out of my car and the detailed results of the inspection allowed me to see that what I need in maintenance and repairs is worth keeping the car for a while longer,” she shared.
We’re glad that Karen has been back in Orlando, not just for her business or the fact that she loves referring her friends and co-workers to us, but because she is truly a joy to serve. Plus, she’s a great friend and it feels so good to help friends.
“I avoid bringing my car to the repair shop until it’s screaming at me so loud that I can’t ignore it,” commented a brand new client. This isn’t an uncommon mindset among vehicle owners – especially those of “older” vehicles with “some mileage” and a tight budget.
“Why worry if there’s no real way to plan for these unexpected costs?,” many people think.
We helped change the mindset of this client, to their benefit. A proactive, thought-out, budget- honoring approach to vehicle maintenance and repair is a win-win for the client and the repair shop. You can reduce the stress of finding that time and money to address symptoms and surprises. You can catch problems before they get worse or strand you. You can set aside a vehicle ownership budget.
You shouldn’t have to worry about unexpected costs, because you can have a reasonable idea of what you need to save each month to keep your vehicle in a safe and reliable condition. With this money set aside and a proactive plan for repair and maintenance, you can reduce your visits to 2-3 times each year coinciding with oil changes and other necessary maintenance.
When I see your social media posts recounting horrible vehicle repair experiences, where you’re sure they overcharged you for a problem they didn’t even fix, I feel your anger and disappointment.
When I hear you say, “I don’t like bringing my car to the mechanic because I don’t know when they are taking advantage of me,” I cringe.
When you tell me that the repair shop was pressuring you to approve a repair and you weren’t sure you really needed it, but now you don’t know what to do. I don’t blame you for shedding tears over it.
When you say, “I don’t like going to the auto repair shop because I feel like they treat me differently because I’m a woman,” it really frustrates me to hear that.
Ladies, we should not be having these experiences. We should certainly not be having them just because we are women. We should not be worried about being overcharged, about paying for an unnecessary repair, or being taken advantage of because we are women. We should not put our wallet, our safety, or the safety of our family in a compromising position because auto repair is a man’s world and we are women. We should not be broken down on the side of the road because, while we knew something wasn’t quite right, we dreaded bringing the vehicle in to be looked over. It’s uncalled for.
Ladies, you deserve respect by everyone – including the man (or woman) who is helping you keep your vehicle safe and reliable.
Men, women deserve your respect. So, respect her. Even if you don’t know her, respect her, You might be the only man in her life that has ever shown her what a gentleman is.
Before becoming a mechanic’s wife, that was me. I was that woman who called Dad every time her car made a noise because she was scared and didn’t know what to do. I was that woman who handed her cell phone over to the mechanic, daddy on the other end, because she couldn’t understand what he was talking about. Why must the mechanic speak Man? Why can’t he just speak Human? I’m grateful to my dad for filling the gap between me and the auto repair shop, but do you know what? My dad isn’t a mechanic. He worked in insurance sales. He may have tinkered with cars in the driveway here and there in the 1970’s, but when it came to auto repair, he mainly relied on life experience.
Now that I am a mechanic’s wife, I have a different perspective. I have the perspective that no one should ever feel like they are being overcharged, taken advantage of, or talked over, under, or down to.
Women – while you are the most vulnerable to feeling this way, you are not alone. A lot of men whose father’s didn’t tinker in the driveway with them aren’t confident in understanding mechanic talk. Even if they did have those kinds of father’s, they may have learned a thing or two that is incorrect. Whether you are a man or woman or teenager who’s just gotten their driver’s license and first car, you should be treated right by your mechanic.You should be and you can be.
Ladies, stop waiting until you feel like your vehicle is going to break down before you finally relent and start typing “auto repair near me” into Google. The right man is out there waiting to treat you and your vehicle right. Don’t wait until your car is about to give up on you. That’s like being in labor and not going to the hospital or birthing center until you are ready to push. You don’t want to have that baby in the passenger seat of a car! The doctor or midwife wants to walk with you throughout the process of your pregnancy. They want to labor with you from the start – not just when you are ready to push. Then, all you have to focus on is your beautiful family.
There’s a mechanic out there ready to use plain English, to take the time necessary to discuss your options until you understand what is happening with your vehicle.
There’s a mechanic who’s not interested in just telling you what’s wrong, he will gladly show you.
There’s a mechanic who wants to use his expertise, time, and resources to serve you to his fullest.
There’s an auto repair shop who will give you a clear honest answer about what is wrong with your vehicle, a reliable budget estimate of the cost of repair, and honest advice about how long they would or wouldn’t let their mom drive a car in that condition.
In general, the auto repair industry has a bad reputation for treating customers poorly, not communicating well, issuing bills that don’t make sense, and not fixing the problem right the first time. Auto repair is a rough industry (I can tell you honestly from both sides), but I know that there are shops out there ready to build a relationship with you. Look for one with honest communication, quality-focused automotive repair, fairness in practice, and kindness in action. You don’t deserve anything less than that.
You matter and your vehicle matters because you need to get to work, school, church, soccer practice or the retirement home knowing that you can get there safely and reliably. You should be able to look into the face of your mother, husband, child, and friend with a smile because you know that you and your family have been cared for.
“Daddy!” the boy squeals as he flies into the shop, wrapping his arms around his father’s legs.
“Arthur boy!” his father exclaims.
“Walk, please!” his mother warns…for the millionth time.
“Can we do shop time, Daddy,” Arthur asks.
“That sounds great! Beth, is it ok with you if we have shop time after we close today?” Andrew asks with the “you know it will be good for him” look in his eyes.
Looking forward to getting the boy home, I respond with exhausted elongated words – “Yeah, that’s fine.”
But it is good for our now 3 year old son. And it’s good for Andrew to be able to share that special time with him. It’s certainly a benefit when your dad owns an auto repair shop. It’s a unique experience that few other kids his age enjoy.
If you have been a client for any amount of time, you have recognized that Andrew is a good teacher. That’s one benefit of his music education degree and he applies this with our son, especially during their Shop Time.
What Do They Do?
Arthur is always interested in what Andrew is up to and does his best to emulate him.
Arthur loves to help out around the shop and Andrew loves to give him practical jobs.
Learning opportunities abound at the shop!
With Andrew’s degree in music education and Arthur’s interests in everything music and everything in Daddy’s shop, this was a big hit! This is just a short clip of the beginning of their music exploration around the shop.
Finding out how things work around the shop can take a lot of different forms, but this is one of the most fun to date. I think Central Florida amusement parks have a rival!
These are just a few examples of the fun Andrew and Arthur have during their shop time. Many of them, I haven’t been around for. They will look for little treasures that Arthur can hide away in his pockets, do an oil change together, or just explore how different tools work. Arthur has been around the shop since his birth and is now capable of being helpful with small tasks. He truly completes our family business.
What a treasure trove of learning for a little boy!
It’s been a month, now, since the U.S. President declared a national emergency due to COVID-19. Many of us have been confined to our home since then. More recently, we are required to stay home aside from essential work or errands. That means, we’re not driving as much. I can’t even remember the last time I got gas for my car (Gas prices?!!). Just because you aren’t driving your vehicle, doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep up with it’s care…or maybe because you aren’t driving your vehicle that’s all the more reason to attend to it.
There are several opportunities to get on top of your vehicle’s needs and some of them don’t even cost a single penny.
Taking the time to educate yourself about your vehicle and how to maximize your investment probably isn’t high on your priority list when your life is busy with work, school, kids and just life in general. In our present circumstances, however, why not set aside some time?
Like many of you, whatever work projects you had going on before the COVID-19 crisis have been turned on their head. My goal this year was to facilitate a series of seminars about vehicle ownership to equip people for making confident decisions in keeping their vehicle safe and reliable. Now that life has become virtual, I jumped on the bandwagon and reformatted my seminars into a Facebook Live series. I hope you take the time to join me!
Taking control of your vehicle’s maintenance and repair budget
April 4, 2020
Session 1: Can you really budget for repairs and maintenance? (Watch it now!)
Session 2: Demonstration: DIY maintenance with Andrew and Arthur (Watch it now!)
To receive regular updates on more upcoming seminars and other helpful information, please like our Facebook page, @Marinelli Auto Service.
Make A Plan
Do you check your engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid on a regular basis? Do you regularly check your tire pressure? What about your windshield wipers? The more familiar you are with your vehicle based on its basic health, the more likely you are going to be invested in keeping on top of keeping it that way.
Focus on Prevention
The more you know about your vehicle, the better you are prepared to take measures to prevent nasty surprises and set a practical and affordable budget for maintenance and repairs.
When was the last time you had a really thorough inspection on your vehicle? Do you have a comprehensive list of your vehicle’s current, upcoming, and future needs with an understanding of their benefit to your vehicle’s safety and reliability? If so, then you are prepared to prevent your vehicle’s needs from being urgent and likely more costly than if you waited until components start to fail.
By working with your mechanic to compile this information and talk through what decisions you need to make about maintenance, repairs, and your budget, you can save yourself a lot of worry, time and money. If you haven’t done this – or maybe it’s just been a while – or you don’t know where to start, please reach out and we’ll be happy to help you begin this process.
Having a plan in place for maintaining your vehicle is only beneficial if you act on it. Schedule regular maintenance and repairs according to the number of your vehicle’s needs and the budget you have set. We like to see our clients do this in conjunction with oil changes – why go back and forth between the auto repair shop for multiple things when you can leave it for a day or so and get them taken care of at the same time in a regular interval?
We know that time is precious! Plan ahead to a time when going without your vehicle is going to cause the least amount of stress. Many of our clients schedule service for when they are going out of town – if it’s just going to sit in the driveway, why not use that time to get some work done? Speaking of sitting in your driveway – many of you have been driving your vehicle so little that you can’t remember the last time you got gas. If you aren’t an essential worker and life has slowed down, now is the perfect time to jump into this process.
Communicate Regularly with Your Mechanic
We understand that this health crisis has affected many of your jobs and income. Maybe you had planned on getting some work done on your vehicle but now your budget has changed. By staying in regular contact with your mechanic about repairs and maintenance due and your current budget, you can navigate together the best course of action, even if that means re-evaluating your initial plan to meet a change in budget.
We are happy to help you tailor your vehicle’s next service appointment to your current budget. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
If you have any questions, concerns, or support during this unusual time, please get in touch with us. We want your vehicle to be safe and reliable but, more importantly, we want you and your family to be safe and well.
As we watched from the other side of the world, we sent our “thoughts and prayers” to China as COVID-19 swept their nation this past December and into the new year. I, like many, thought, “Oh, that’s sad,” then moved on with our daily lives as the news drifted in and out of our fast paced lives. The virus quickly travelled west as Europe started putting up red flags – Italy getting hit especially hard. Various international business and parenting Facebook groups that I follow cried out as they were quarantined in their homes with their family – children especially going stir-crazy. These virtual group members supported them and offered ideas for passing the time and expending pent-up energy.
March greeted us and the deadly virus was no longer on the other side of the world. It was in our backyard. Before we knew it, the Coronavirus lingered by our front door as it haunted our every move. We began to argue about it’s severity, about precautions, and whether the media is fear mongering.
Then reality hit. Schools, businesses, the entire entertainment industry – including the American’s beloved national and collegiate sports teams – shut down. Now so many of us, if we’re blessed enough to still have a paying job, are working from home – myself included.
Our kids are also at home because childcare and/or schools are closed (again, our family is no exception), which poses a conflict. How can I be productive working from home when my kids are home? You’re probably also asking, since my kids are not in school, how do I keep them engaged in academic activities so that they don’t fall behind once schools open again?
Social media has allowed these families to come together and support each other in schooling their children at home. Teachers have piped up and offered assistance. Many of these families have never considered homeschooling and never had the opportunity to learn how to teach a child, much less actually do it. Adding the need to be productive with your own work, this has been a major challenge for most families in the U.S.
I feel modestly prepared to take on this task with my preschooler. Our life has not had a “normal” routine since he was born more than 3 years ago. I have never really “left” my job; I’ve switched back and forth between working from home and working at the shop. I’ve had to work full-time for the past 18 months while still having our son around for a good portion of the day. I’m fortunate that Andrew and I both have education degrees, tons of experience with kids, and come from families full of teachers. My mom and mother-in-law have especially been helpful, having decades of experience teaching preschool – elementary school children.
In the time I’ve wandered back and forth between working from home and working at the shop with a toddler in my care, I’ve learned some great lessons that have made this full-time working and schooling from home a reasonably smooth transition.
1. Create a routine and stick to it
Think about what a normal routine was like for your child when they were in school and/or childcare. Write out that hourly routine and consider how you might replicate that at home. Just like you have a normal routine for your work-day, they also have a school-day routine that keeps them grounded and productive.
Older children may have been sent schoolwork packages to keep them on track with each subject in their curriculum, but what about electives and extra-curriculars? How many times a day did they have recess? Did they have a set reading or study time? What time did they eat lunch? What time did they get to school/come home from school?
Like the older children, keep babies’ and toddlers’ snacks, lunches, and quiet times on a similar time schedule. Just because they don’t get tested or graded, doesn’t mean you should usurp learning activities. Keeping their minds engaged and challenged both keeps them occupied, learning and growing. Occupying them in something meaningful may allow you some precious moments to focus on your work while they’re occupied.
The big difference for the younger kids is that their attention span is much shorter and they are less independent in learning tasks. Where you may be able to block out an hour for a 10-year old to engage independently in an activity or two (45 minutes engaged activity, plus instruction and wrap-up), I suggest keeping younger kids’ focused learning activities to a 30 minute time-slot (15-20 minutes engaged activity, plus instruction and wrap-up). Fill in gaps between structured learning with free play – playing is learning!
Believe it or not, kids actually thrive on order and routine, especially when things get a little out of whack. They might resist at first, but stay the course and be consistent. Provide this daily security during such an uncertain time.
2. Prioritize school routines and weave work throughout
I know that you are doing your best to get the same amount of work done at home as you do in the office. With kids around, that is unlikely to happen (sorry!). However, you can set a new work pace and accomplish realistic goals if you are wise in how you manage your time.
First of all, if you have two parents working from home at the same time (bonus!), you are more likely to be successful in your work goals if you coordinate responsibilities. Take turns in teaching and learning times with the kids. Figure out which subjects you each thrive in and divide them up. When one parent is with the kids, the other parent gets uninterrupted work time. If you plan well, even the parent working with the kids can sneak in some work while the children are focused on a task.
Secondly, plan your childrens’ schedule first, then sort out where you can fit your work priorities in that framework and what work tasks are best to do when. If you try to work your kids’ schedule around your work priorities, you are going to feel frustrated and agitated by your kids’ need for attention and end up spinning your wheels. On the other hand, if they are content and engaged in their work, you can manage your own time accordingly. For example, if my son is working on an art project, I know that I need to keep my attention on him, lest paint get all over my whole house, but I can probably be checking and responding to email during that time. I save my focused projects for when he’s engaged in play (i.e. play dough works miracles!) or napping.
Finally, if there’s absolutely no way around needing some focused work time (i.e. you have a scheduled phone or video conference), don’t feel bad about a little extra TV time in the middle of the day. Find something that everyone agrees on and that, if possible, would be intellectually challenging for the kids. Afterwards, have a conversation with them about a moral or ethical conflict between characters or the good or poor choices a character made. I’ve been known to do this after my 3-year-old has watched the movie Cars for the thousandth time (Wow, Lightning McQueen was truly a selfish jerk until he met the folks in Radiator Springs!).
3. Involve the whole family in the process.
I already mentioned having mom and dad trade teaching time if possible. If you have children of multiple ages, you can also involve the older children in helping to teach the younger children. Not only does it give you some extra space, but it’s actually really beneficial to the kids. The older kids get to reinforce and feel confident in what they already know. The younger kids learn to trust their older siblings and establish a positive bond in their relationship with them.
Make this uncharted adventure a group process – for older kids, have them share what their daily schedule is like and work together as a family to develop your “new for now” routine. For younger kids, get to know what their favorite part of their school day is and prioritize that in your schedule.
Take time to find out what your children want to learn about. Find times where you can all work and learn together about a subject that interests one of the kids and continue to take turns. You can also look at what they’ve been learning at school and make it a group project for the whole family. Get creative and make it enjoyable for everyone.
4. Use the resources you have around you.
If you don’t have a set curriculum, work sent home by your child’s teacher, or your child is bored and/or getting done with their work too quickly, you might need to come up with some additional material. Or, if they are being overly challenged and getting stuck, they may need some assistance. With younger preschool or kindergarten age children, you may not have much teaching content to go off of. Parents, I’m here to encourage you that you are not in this alone.
I know that many teachers are concerned about kids around the country who are not going to be able to keep up with learning and want to help. Reach out to friends and family to see if they know anyone who is certified in your child’s learning level who might be able to tutor them virtually. Reach out to your child’s school to find out what resources they have available to families. Even my son’s preschool is providing resources and help to keep their kids learning, growing, and connected with their friends from school.
For younger children, like mine, you may feel like you are starting from scratch. Consider where they are developmentally, the kinds of work that was sent home from school in the past months (i.e. Were they going through letters in a certain order? Colors? Shapes? Reading a certain type of stories?) and replicate some of those activities – practice makes perfect and they won’t get bored doing the same activities a few times. If they have a favorite, let them keep doing it and find ways you can change it up every so often. Even taking more time each day to read to them, play with your child’s toys together, or involving them in activities at home (my son LOVES baking and cooking – we talk about amounts, texture, temperature, etc and it usually becomes a science lesson of sorts).
Finally, there are tons of amazing resources out there. One that I love for children from infancy through grade school is Dad Lab (Google it! – there’s a book, a YouTube Channel, Instagram, Facebook group, etc) which has tons of great ideas. Take a subject that interests your child (Arthur is really into space right now) so we use that interest and incorporate letter sounds of the planets, simple math, colors, etc to supplement his learning. We go online and watch videos about planets and look for images to talk about.
Embrace the now
As the old adage goes, use this time to make lemons into lemonade. It’s incredibly difficult to turn on the news or Google “COVID-19” and not wrap your mind around that fact that this is not a Stephen King novel that we’re living – it’s real life. Our kids don’t need to hold onto that fear any more than we do. You may even have a friend or a family member who is ill with this virus or has succumbed to its horror. Andrew encourages me repeatedly to take one day at a time. Today, embrace the time you get to be home with your children.
Remember the first day you put them into child care or their first day of school and the ambivalent pull of emotions that made you burst with pride and mourn the parting all at the same time (you, too, dads!). Hold onto these moments that you get to be together. When your child is resisting the school lesson or you are pulling your hair out because you can’t concentrate on your work proposal, just stop. Stop and take a breath and remember that you are all in this together. Take a break from what you are doing and find something fun to do as a family.
These circumstances won’t be with us forever. Just like how the country found a new normal after 9/11, we will find a new normal once schools and workplaces are open again and life will – and must – go on for the survivors.
She answered the phone with a smile. Sitting in our old paint-faded Corolla with my little boy in the back seat, the increasing vibration was really stressing me. The calm voice at the other end reassured me that Andrew had plans to sort it out. It’s not often I get stressed about the vehicles I drive because, after all, I am a mechanic’s wife, but cars need what cars need. Mechanic’s cars are no more immune to needing eventual repairs and maintenance and repairs than a hairdresser needs a haircut.
Over the past couple months Andrew and I have had a stretch of maintenance and repairs due on our vehicles. It may be a tad easier for us sometimes because of our business, but it’s still an investment in time and money to keep our vehicles in a safe and reliable condition. We still have to be intentional about caring for our cars.
That calming voice on the other end of the phone knows how it is. Victoria’s grandfather and father are both mechanics and she grew up around their auto repair shop in Olathe, Kansas – between Lawrence and Kansas City. We first met her when she brought her Grand Am to us with some frustrating symptoms. It was an involved process but we must have done something right because a few months later she trusted us enough to come back when she experienced a tire issue. During that visit she waited in the office for a little while, engaged with our three-year-old and shared some of her passions with me. At the end of the visit we mentioned that if she knew anyone, we were hiring. I also happen to mention that if she was interested herself <wink, wink>, we’d be happy to talk with her about it.
She was a fit! Now if you need a reminder that your vehicle isn’t going to crumble underneath you (it really won’t!) and that we’re going to help you make the right decisions for you and your family, Victoria will be here to walk you through that process. She’s earned her Associates in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Valencia College and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business from UCF. She aspires to using her education, skills, and giftings to serve and help others.
I think that one reason she fits in so well is that, similar to Andrew – the oldest of five kids and homeschooled – Victoria was also homeschooled with three older siblings. They were both very intentionally taught the value of problem solving and hard work from a young age. We can see that work ethic in how she’s jumped into her role, is absorbing everything we’re teaching her, and decidedly stepping outside of her comfort zone in areas where she’s gaining new experience.
The daughter of a nurse and a mechanic, a close knit family that spreads across multiple generations, a children’s theater actress at her church, a love of dancing, and her weekend job of modelling wedding dresses (Yes, that’s right. She’s a model. Of wedding dresses. Any young men out there? 😉 ), she can find a way to connect to just about anyone. She has a knack for helping people feel at ease when they walk through the front door or reach out by phone, text, and email. She’s well-rounded, bright, warm, and friendly, and we’re feeling very fortunate!
If you’ve become a friend of the Marinelli’s, you may be wondering what’s happening to me, the Mechanic’s Wife. Well, I’ve never really felt completely at home in the client service’s position and always hoped that we’d find just the right person to take on that side of things. I’m most passionate about and feel most equipped for marketing, communication, community engagement, and staff care.
Beyond that, Andrew and I have a sweet and very intelligent little boy who needs more time with his mom and dad. He needs a mom who can stay home with him when he’s sick and give him a daily routine that’s more suited to a young boy. Victoria being on board is allowing that to happen. She’s just the beginning of some very exciting changes for us, which I’ll be sharing with you soon!