I’m just like you… a busy mom of two young boys, busy with work and trying to balance my relationships (with my husband, family and friends). There never seem to be enough hours in the day, I have a to-do list for my other to-do lists. My thoughts jump between what to get for groceries, what time I have to leave to pick up the kids and did I complete the school forms that were due that day
I also have my business, AutoNiche, and I’m an auto service technician apprentice. My thoughts jump between emails to answer, cars to fix, parts to order and suppliers to pay.
I love cars. From day one, I remember playing with Hot Wheels and racing them up and down a toy parking garage. Even my Barbie came with her very own Winnebago! Life brought me to the University of Waterloo, earning a degree in Psychology and Business and my previous jobs include Psychometrist and Human Resources Associate.
I was on maternity leave with my second son when I decided I wanted to learn more about cars. At the time I was working in the auto industry and I would dread taking my car in for service. I enrolled in the first level of the Auto Service Technician apprenticeship program and did well, finishing second in the class. All this while maintaining my marriage, raising a toddler and nursing an infant!
After much prayer and discussion, I started on my journey as an entrepreneur. I didn’t want to open just another repair shop, I really felt what was missing from the industry was an ability to connect with the client. Without effective communication, even the most honest and skilled technician would have a hard time putting their client at ease. AutoNiche opened in 2009 and while it’s a given that we can fix cars, my vision was to have a family-friendly shop where we could communicate well with our clients.
When I first began my journey as an auto service technician, a few things surprised me including:
General repair shops versus licensed facilities. General repair shops (such as Mr. Lube, Walmart tire centres, Jiffy Lube, etc) don’t require a licensed technician on hand because they are primarily only addressing fluids, filters and tires.
Numerous variation on parts. Shopping for car parts is like shopping for white paint. As I stand in the paint aisle, my options are Whisper White, Cloud White, Cotton White, etc. Car parts vary in quality and even one manufacturer has multiple types of the same product. For example, brake pads come in different formulations: semi-metallic, ceramic.
Cars are similar to us. I used to think cars were finely-calibrated precision machines…and they are definitely that. Yet they have a lot of similarities to our bodies. They intake air, make use of it then get rid of it through the exhaust system. The systems are integrated with each other and work together. Symptoms will show up in one area of the car yet the root cause is somewhere that may at first seem unintuitive. All this to say that cars need regular maintenance (as we regularly maintain our health) and sometimes diagnosis isn’t simple, cut and dry.
I will be expanding on these topics in future posts and covering all things cars. After days of being in a family of boys (my husband being our sons’ ringleader, of course) and working with men, it’s great to be in a space where my thoughts and words are simply met with an empathetic ‘mm-hm.’ Let’s face it, men and women communicate differently (and that’s a good thing)! Do you have car questions? Let me know! I look forward to bringing you information from a common point of view...as a busy mom who wants to keep her ride running smooth.