In the post "From Teacher to Technician," I mentioned a phone call ruining the last chance at a summer break that I would have before beginning the Toyota T-TEN program. It was the middle of May during my last year of teaching, and the semester would be drawing to a close in a few weeks. I was busy preparing the band hall for the transition to the next director and scrutinizing my checklist from Toyota to make sure I had all of the necessary purchases made for the program when I received a phone call from James while on my lunch break. He did not normally call me at work unless there was something really pressing, and I was completely unprepared for what he was about to tell me over the phone - "Our front desk receptionist has just put in her notice. Her last day is Friday, June 7th. Stephen and I were wondering if you would be interested in filling in after she leaves until we have the chance to hire someone. She also takes parts orders over the phone. It may be good training for you since you're entering the Toyota program soon..."
A job at DeLorean? Like what I was so interested in asking Stephen for during the last couple of years but never mustered up the courage to? And how could I say no to some extra money? I was planning on being unemployed for awhile until I got my paid Toyota dealer internship started, so anything to help ease my budget would be welcome, even if it was temporary. "Okay, I can do that. Let me double check when the last day of school is," I finally responded as I reached for my planner. Lo and behold, the final day that teachers had to report to work for the year was also Friday, June 7th. It was a perfect transition. "Wow, I can start the very next Monday after she leaves. You guys won't even have to worry about there being an empty seat before I can come in." "Okay, I'll let Stephen know. She has offered to stay late a few times between now and then if you want to come in after work to train with her," James said. We said our goodbyes and hung up.
My very last summer break was cut short before it had even begun. Little did I know at the time, I would get no summer break at all - and I would love it. I enjoyed the job at DeLorean so much that I ended up staying there. Stephen and James were happy with the work that I was doing, and having someone on the phone that was familiar with DeLoreans was a big load off for them, since most questions could be handled by me that they were used to having to answer. They still had a replacement in mind for the receptionist position, and once she started in September, I was moved into the service department to work as a service advisor. Since I had started the T-TEN program by then, Stephen was wanting to steer me more into the service side of DeLorean, where I could potentially help with cars and speak to service customers on the phone.
After almost a year of working as a service advisor, I was officially moved into the position of Service Manager, something that DMC Houston hadn't had in a long time. I was eager to take the role, and continued to give a helping hand in the shop as well as fielding service inquiries. In addition to my advisor duties, I began helping out with technical questions on the phone, and could help take parts orders when the phones got busy. I also worked to keep all service customers updated weekly on the progress of their cars by sending them photos and videos, especially if the car was one we were performing a restoration on, or had come to us as a non-runner. The majority of our customers are from out of state, so for them to be able to witness their engine running for the first time since they've owned the car, or to see a newly finished restoration leaving the building for its first road test is a really big deal. I know if I had a car in that situation, I would want to be kept up-to-date as much as possible too, and that's all I wanted to provide for them.
I really grew to enjoy the customer service aspect of the service department. I continued my full mechanic training in the evenings at T-TEN, and Stephen was more than willing to work around my internship and class schedule when it interfered with DMC, but the bits of teacher that were left in me felt fulfilled being able to explain to someone why certain repairs were necessary for their car, or how a particular system was supposed to work once it was repaired correctly. I think explanation goes a long way in getting someone to understand that you are helping their car to get what it needs and not just attempting to rip them off with unnecessary work. Especially with DeLoreans - the typical owner is so isolated that they don't realize that the weird things their car does are not normal, they just assume it's a DeLorean being a DeLorean, and it perpetuates the stereotypes we all hear about them. If there is anything I can do to lessen that perspective, I will certainly do it.
It seems fitting to be posting about this now - I just realized that only a couple of days ago, it was exactly 3 years since I started at DeLorean. It's amazing how fast time passes, and I have taken that time to heal from my previous career and to forge a new one that ended up with more similarities to teaching than I had expected. My hobby had become my new career and my old career took a back seat and has become a hobby. And I am so happy it turned out that way. My love for the DeLorean had begun as a dream car, brought me and my fiance together, and then became my working environment. The DeLorean Bug bit me hard...
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Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm a car nut, bird lover, and musician. I have recently transitioned from music teacher to automotive service manager, and there have been lots of cool stories and crazy characters along the way!