Lesson 2: Love what you do. “This is fulfilling work,” Frank said, standing under my station wagon, tightening up some parts that had rattled loose (but that I was unaware of). It was late on a Friday on a holiday weekend after the shop had closed, and while we spoke, his longtime wife–the naturally pretty blonde in the framed pictures behind his desk–called to ask what he wanted for dinner. Still, he took his time under my car rather than hustling me out. “It used to be really fun back in the day when all the muscle cars came in. Now cars are all run by computers,” Frank said, as he worked. “But it is still satisfying to see that you fixed something at the end of the day.”
Takeaway: Your career is long. Find work that you enjoy enough to devote long hours -- and many years -- to.
Lesson 3: Communicate with the customer. While doing a routine timing belt change, some complications came up. Frank didn’t wait until I strolled in at his recommended time to tell me. He called me several times throughout the day to keep me posted as he explored the engine, how the findings translated into costs, and how they affected completion time. When my ride was finally done, Frank walked me over to a small table where the old parts were laid out, and explained how each one works and pointed out where they were broken. Maybe he’d sniffed out that I’m a dunce about cars, but his tone was far from condescending. I got the sense that he does the same for every customer.
Takeaway: Know your client’s pain point and expectations, and keep them posted. Knowledge=trust. Surprises=bad.