Just a little rant and I need advice


Trying to be the best me, I can be
Maybe some of you guys can feel my pain. I work at a small shop, Owner has never had any experience in the Industry prior to owning this Shop. I have 2 fellow co-workers, one is a helper who had no experience prior to working here. Other body guy/painter (we each take the vehicle from start to finish) has never worked at a real shop either. Only here and doing it at his house. His Dad was a long time body guy so he picked up much of what he "knows" from him.
You ca imagine how this goes. Owner is gone all the time, I gotta write estimates, answer the phone, pay the vendors etc etc. in addition to doing my work. Other body guy "knows it all" doesn't ever want advice, help etc, even though he screws every job. He doesn't understand ratios........seriously, I gotta mix his paint because he can't. I have never seen a job he's done that looks good and we've worked together over 3 years. He cut's so many corners it's not even funny anymore. I get stuck with every hard hit, anything complicated, all the nice stuff that needs to look good. We make the same amount of money. I say something about it to the Owner, he says "well you're not as fast as he is." I tell him my stuff looks good. doesn't come back and looks good a year down the road does his? Plus I'm doing estimates answering the phone, etc etc. Of course he can't argue with me about that. I could double what he does if I skipped half the steps like he does.:mad:
Today had to redo a 2017 Chevy Silverado painted "Limited Addiction Red" which the other guy couldn't blend. I just feel really dumb for putting up with this crap for so long. I realize that it's time to leave but around here no one is hiring at the moment and if they were it's a minimum 45 minute drive each way.I could get something in Raleigh or Durham but that's an hour and a half each way. Plus I've been here for 5 years and I've lost most of my former connections, and I know if I left that I would not be able to use my boss as a reference and if a prospective employer contacted him he would do his best to sabotage my chances.....Just the kind of guy he is.
Oh and I left out the best part.....he pays us as contract labor. Yep I'm an idiot.

You guys think there's any hope here? Any advice for me? I've been holding out because I want to open my own Shop again, but that is still a ways down the road. I don't know what to do.


if he gives you a bad reference burn him with the irs . you are loosing 7% of your ss every week . find another job and do this on the side. better money less headache .


Paint Fanatic
Staff member
My thoughts, offer to buy the guy out with payments (he finance)
2nd the contract help defies the IRS law, no ifs or buts about it, the penalties to him are big and part of it he would have to pay them all the taxes he did not withhold from you.
My ex neighbor was a contract lawyer and over beers we would discuss some of the large companies he did work for, he did a contract for me 20 years a go and there was no room at all for me to tell the guy what to do or when to work and it goes on and on.
Or open a shop next to him?

El Toro

Barry and Shine have very good points. I feel your pain. The one good thing is you have a pay check every week and please try to save as much as you can even being extremely thrifty nut. And look forward to the day you can leave and open your own shop or try to buy him out. Good luck Chris .
I would have a face to face with the owner and explain things to him. He obviously knows who is handling things and when push comes to shove he may be willing to "fix" the issues that are bothering you. Let him know that you are considering leaving and list the reasons why. It seems that with most employers you have to threaten to leave before they begin to show appreciation for what you do.
Another suggestions is to write everything down so you don't forget to cover an important issue with him. If he refuses to talk or work with you on this, then you have your answer and it's time to move on.


Hi Chris.
Here's my advice. Re-read your post. I think you already know there's only grief and no future where your at. I've been at this for 39 years and I've never seen a successful shop pay contract labor. They all crash and burn.
"Set your goals and start moving towards where you want to be today" is easy for me to say. When I was young it was easy to do. That kind of move on thinking never takes in the whole picture of family, mortgage and everything else. So keep in mind, there's a few of us hoping, praying and cheering for you. Best of luck. ~BOB
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Chris, starting your own shop is not for the faint at heart. Unless you have a bank roll sitting there along with the equipment, don't. I have looked into what it would take and have talked to all my contacts from equipment sales reps to paint reps and other bodyshop owners. One bodyshop owner (not in my network area) laid out the numbers at the request of my paint rep, I am close enough with all them to call them friends so they each took the time to answer my questions and explained some issues I never thought of.

Unless you have a current network of friends (more then 4) that give you work on a regular basis that can help spread the word (which you should have been doing already) then you have some work to do.

You have to learn now that there needs to be 2 types of work you do, 1 the way you do it at work and 2 the way you do it at home. I have been doing it that way for years because the F-ing Ins. Co's will not and do not pay for what it really takes in either material costs, time for proper curing or proper repair procedures. Thinking outside the box on how to do it and beat the time is absolutely critical in getting it done and making rate. Then there is the investment in tools that while without can still get done (for the most part) but help get it done faster and on time, like the $30k Chief Laser Lock measuring system I use and the $30K dosen't stop there a once a year $1000 subscription fee needs paid to stay current.

I could go on but typing all this would be an extensive read. I would start doing work at home to get things rolling before you jump in with both feet.


Combo Man
The place you describe is a prison you have made for yourself. The satisfaction you get by staying is knowing they need you, and that you can run rings around them all, but that's a piss poor reason to stay. I don't know why things are bad around you, but there is a terrible technician shortage all over the country. Maybe you need to move? The jobs are out there for journeymen.


Trying to be the best me, I can be
Thanks guys for all the advice and kind words. I appreciate it. DATEC I understand the commitment it takes, I ran my own place for a few years and learned the hard way. I have no intention of opening an Insurance Shop. I want to get out of it because I've done it long enough. When I open a Shop again it'll be on land that I own and it'll be paid for.
Crash, you have to understand where I was when I took the job, I had lost all my tools in a fire at the previous Shop I worked at. Owner was a "Pillar of the Community" by all outward appearances. I got let go (fired never understood why, to be honest) on a Friday, (at the time it was a blessing because I was Commission and we had been very slow for the better part of 6 months) he said it would be fine to leave my tools there until I found something else. I got a job that same Friday and was going to have a towing company rollback my box that Monday. Shop burned to the ground on Saturday. He told me that since I was no longer an Employee, Insurance wasn't going to cover my tools. At that time everything I had was in those 2 boxes. I had no money to hire an Attorney so I got screwed. I spent 2 years doing whatever I could, it was hell.
I agree I've done this to myself, but jobs are hard to come by here and here for whatever reason there really isn't a Tech shortage. Raleigh, Durham, there is, but I hate the idea of commuting almost 3 hours total a day. I've been able to save quite a bit in the last 5 years and my side work has allowed me to purchase a home and some acreage so I don't really like the idea of moving. I've lived in enough places to know that this is home to me.
Trust me I get no satisfaction from knowing they need me. Only satisfaction I get is the work. I guess after some of the stuff I've been through I'm lacking confidence or scared of the idea of trying to find a new job. Plus I don't feel I have any good references anymore and have lost touch with my contacts. (where I live is kinda far removed from where I used to work.) All my ICAR certs have expired which doesn't help either.

Anyone have some advice on how to approach some shops and how I should present myself to them?


Cold calls work with bodyshops around here. For the most part if your good they will already know who you are and where you work, referring to the shops local to yours. I would also sign up and pay for an I-Car class yourself, done that myself. In that class you will meet other techs and owners you can introduce yourself to. Strike up a conversation by asking how they been doing this year, yada, yada, yada. From there you can look for a Segway into if they were or are looking for a tech. Alot of the time those can be your start into a great network of contacts. I was invited to Erie, PA to a tool/equipment show this weekend put on by my paint supplier with over 180 vendors showcasing their stuff, there will be a massive amount of techs and owners there to network with. Every little bit helps. Also call your auto insurance agent, they know and are likely friends with bodyshop owners and also know who is busy (I know that for a fact) if you have a good relationship with them they can help (I also know that for a fact).


There are pluses and minuses to insurance work. To survive you have to do insurance work and to make it it is best to be a DRP shop but that also comes with issues and stress. There is no real way to make it with any hope of making a living without it. Self pay is only 1-2% of our work.

If you want to do custom style work only, you really need a strong large network or your lites will go out faster then they came on.


just doing my part boss :)

a one man shop can pay well. lower overhead less taxes . but it is a young mans game. i have been a one man show since 1990 . i prefer it. i worked for years in a 30x40 with a booth in it. as long as you dont work for chump change the ins will pay you it is ok.


This is really great idea, you can get the knowledge of different insurance plans and the claim settlement deals. Insurance is a need for, people will not stop purchasing it so you can go with the idea of your shop. Get the information for different website and blogs, visit here to get the best quotes on insurance. Try to build a better network and then go with your plan.