Taking the Lead
For Zach Kennedy, lube technician and trainer at Alcona Esso Gas, Variety & Premium Lube Express in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada, his interest in cars started with a few auto shop classes at the local high school. What began as a way to fill a required elective in school, quickly gained Kennedy’s interest as he discovered he had a talent for hands-on work with cars.
Soon after graduation, Kennedy’s stepfather, long-time customer of Scott Knack’s Alcona Esso shop, heard there was an opening for a lube technician on Knack’s team. With that stroke of luck, Kennedy applied, and was hired for, his first job as a professional lube technician at Alcona Esso in 2011.
As the only lube shop in Innisfil, a mid-size suburb north of Toronto, Alcona Esso’s lube bays are always busy, and Knack is proud to teach the younger generation the ins and outs of the lube trade.
“I try to motivate and lead them in the right direction and hopefully some catch it,” Knack said. “It’s nice being able to give someone a chance and seeing them grab ahold of it guns ablazin.’”
When two of Knack’s best lube techs left, Kennedy surprised Knack by stepping right up, taking on new responsibilities and filling in where the others had left off.
“Any shift that needs to be taken, I call Zach, and he’ll come in,” Knack said, “He’s helping to manage the ordering, training our new hires and selling everything under the sun. He’s turned out to be a good leader.”
Kennedy continues to grow in his knowledge with each new challenge. He takes pride in going the extra mile to not only perform the job, but also to help educate customers about their vehicles.
“One of my favorite parts of the job is being able to show someone something about their car that they didn’t know before,” Kennedy said. “I like knowing that our customers are leaving with their car running better than it was when they brought it in. It’s good to see people leaving with a smile on their face.”
Kennedy’s advice on customer service is to focus on the little things.
“Smile,” Kennedy said. “Make every customer feel like they are important. When they pull up to the shop, introduce yourself and let them know whether you can help them right away or if there’ll be a short wait.”
He takes the same straightforward approach to training as he does to customer service.
“With the new guys, if they’ve never done a service before, I show them a few times and then let them do it themselves hands-on,” Kennedy said. “No matter what it is you’re teaching, I think people learn better if they can actually do it themselves a few times. That’s when they really seem to get the hang of it.”
Like most business, the lube industry is constantly evolving, and Kennedy, like many in the younger generation, thrives on change.
“There are always new oils and additive products coming out,” Kennedy said “Our oil rep does a great job of educating us about the oil, what’s in it and exactly why we would sell the different types of oil that we do.”