From Tulsa, OK — 03/07/2010
This is a store where you can't get ahead by proving yourself to the bosses, because their opinions are not respected by corporate management, and store-level managers are routinely ignored and overridden. They are essentially just there to be mouthpieces for decisions that come down from above, and that's a shame, because the store would be a lot more successful if they had some authority.
When this store first opened, the hiring managers (the store managers) lied to the technicians they hired. They base your initial pay grade on the number of ASE certifications you have, but they also told the technicians (some of whom had already taken multiple tests whose results were pending) that they would get promoted as soon as they got more certifications. This was a lie, and it caused pretty bad morale problems with the techs because they ended up with some of the best guys having the most certifications making the least pay. When the store managers tried to promote them, corporate shot them down, and they lost good employees because of it. I should make clear that I don't think the store managers were trying to mislead the techs, I think they were lied to by corporate, then they passed on the lies. Also keep in mind that techs are not considered Carmax management material beyond being shop leads.
This is also a company with really rigid and restrictive rules and procedures that micromanages the way all their employees do each and every task. This makes it hard to do your job there as a technician, because the whole operations department (shop) is badly understaffed and you often have to wait for other people who might be on break or in the bathroom before you can proceed on a job, and just generally spend a lot of time on procedures that accomplish nothing. Techs are paid by the hour, not flat rate, so this might not seem like a problem--but techs are judged by something called an "efficiency rating" that is based on speed. It's hard to be efficient if you're one of 3 techs in a big shop that was meant for thirty guys--but don't, for instance, install a windshield wiper outside in the lot, because that can get you fired. In addition, Carmax supplies your tools, but you won't necessarily have the specialized tools you need for a job. If this happens, send it to the dealer, don't try to make do because that hurts your efficiency and especially don't bring your specialty tools from home--that can also get you fired. Also, they give a $1,000 reward to any employee who reports another employee for breaking a policy that gets them fired, so don't go above and beyond and make your coworkers look bad in comparison. Always remember that any rule-bending can get you fired, even if you do it to make the shop work better and no harm could ever come of it--the rules are always more important than the employees. Employees are interchangeable here.
That said, there are some good things about working at Carmax. The people who work there are mostly pleasant to work with, and the shop is clean and new. They also have air-conditioning in the shop, but it's never worked properly since the store was opened, so it still gets really hot out there (especially since they won't allow the doors to be opened because the so-called AC is on.) It's a low-pressure environment. You're not constantly harassed to hurry up like you are in most aftermarket shops, and the bosses usually don't try to tell you how to fix cars, because they have never been techs themselves and don't know anything about it. My only complaint in that area is that sometimes Carmax standards are lower than industry standards, particularly for things like tires and brakes.
So all in all, this is a pretty easy place to work if you are good at following rules and not making waves. You don't have to be a great tech, but you need to get all your ASEs before you're hired if you want good pay. If you are the kind of person who always tries to make things work better and faster, you will feel stymied by all the rules and procedures here. Doing things the "Carmax Way" is always the most important thing, even if it costs Carmax a lot of money and doesn't result in any added value for the customer.