well said. The industry (kubota, automotive, powersports, etc in general) has gone that way because of a lot of things, and you've touched on a few of them. It's certainly unfortunate.
I used to work at a kubota dealer as a tech. They didn't pay anything given the amount of volume and type of work that is expected out of a tech. I had about $50,000 worth of tools-that is over a year's salary, for the record. But my bills was paid, and $43,000 a year was acceptable, and I made a career out of it. What always bothered me is how customer expectations combined with a poor management "team" would get together. For instance, if I had to do a transmission replacement on a ZG127, and let's say the owner takes it home, then it starts missing on one cylinder. Coil goes bad (Kohler...that's a normal thing on Kohlers). I (tech) had absolutely nothing to do with that coil. Yet, that customer shows back up, goes to the manager and the manager bends over to keep the customer happy. Now, me, the tech, has to eat an hour's labor, the shop has to eat the cost of a coil, and we still lose the customer's confidence. We had nothing to do with it! But in the customer's eyes, it doesn't matter. He wants free stuff, and that is all. "I just spent $1500 on a lawn mower repair and now this other problem shows up, what did y'all do to my mower??" Or, guy has his tractor in for an oil change, gets it home and starts doing tractor work normally-all is well, for months. 4,5,6 months later he calls griping because he's got a flat tire. Boss says go get in the truck, pick it up, bring it back and FIX that tire. And I did, for free. Fixing a tractor tire is not as easy as a car tire, so there goes a few hours' of my time that I should have been billing for. But the customer is always right. Right? I got so sick of that stuff.
But we as a society have become conditioned to the fact that, well, the customer IS in fact always right. There needs to be a balance, an agreement on what is and what isn't. I always said that a shop should have a labor warranty statement. Maybe, say, have a 60 day guarantee on the repairs completed, and stating that if a problem presents itself that is out of the scope of the original repair, it is not a warrantable repair unless the manufacturer's warranty applies.
shop labor. We are getting into $130-$150/hr labor rates nowadays. When I started, it was $18/hr. Now that $150 is high-I agree with that. And customers see that and they automatically expect higher quality of service, which in most cases, they actually get that. But techs are also not paid what they should be. If labor rate went from $18 to $150 in 30 years, that's an 833% increase. My wage was $4.25 when I started in 1992. 833% increase would be a little over $35 an hour. I don't make $35/hr. Nowhere close and neither do any of the techs where I was at (the kubota dealer). Wages don't keep up, ever. I'm not saying they "should" but I am saying that they don't, and in the case of where I used to work, it was management saying that we were paid too much given the work we put out. I was billing over 100% monthly for 9 months out of the year. The highest of all 11 of the stores in that chain. Yet when i mention a pay raise for myself and the rest of the guys? "We can't afford it". In 2020, I could no longer afford to work there either so go find yourself a flunky to replace me--and they did--15 of them since 2020. Finding help is tough. Finding GOOD help is tough AND expensive. Techs have to buy their own tools, pay for their own schooling, pay for this, pay for that....taxes...insurance...after it's all said and done, a $25.00/hr tech is making about $9/hr once all the costs are figured in (you get the idea, that is not exact, but close). And they keep wondering why few want to enter the trade/field....