MMI - Graduate Job Placement & Potential Salaries


This page covers what MOST people who write to me about MMI want to know... getting a job, and the salaries (scroll to the bottom of the page if you want to read about this part first).

My Experience

I was pretty lucky, I actually had a job offer 2weeks before I had graduated from the Melbourne (Florida) dealership. While in the VROD class, my instructor asked what I was planning on doing after school, and if I was interested in staying in Florida. While I wasn't, really, I said "yes" because I wanted to have a back-up plan if necessary. He told me that Melbourne was hiring, and to use his name. Turns out, he quit the school just after I finished the class, and went to work over there. Believe me, it was VERY flattering to have one of your instructors recommend you for a job. I went over to talk to the Service Manager, and after talking with him for an hour (and on the basis of my instructor's recommendation), he made me a job offer on the spot. I thanked him, but said I'd like to think about it, plus I had a couple of other interviews I wanted to go to after I graduated.

My wife and I wanted to move to North Carolina, so after I graduated on Feb. 27, of 2004, I drove to NC that weekend. By that Wednesday, I had a job offer at Pat Rogers Speedway HD in Concord, NC. While I won't say exactly how much that was, it was comparable (slightly more) to the Melbourne offer. I accepted the offer, called my wife with the good news, and immediately started looking for a house to rent. We made the move, and I started work there March 25th.

MMI Job Placement

While I really liked what MMI taught me about wrenching on bikes, I think most people have a "pie in the sky" idea about their job placement program. First of all, they won't even talk to you until you are six weeks from your graduation date. And there's a reason for this. In the motorcycle technician world, things happen fast... if a dealership is looking for someone with no experience, they can interview people and hire them quickly. I'd be surprised if they'd hold a place for someone who wasn't going to graduate for a few months unless there was some personal relationship already established. Six weeks is MORE than enough time to get things happening. Also, while they will make some calls for you as well as faxing, much of the real work is up to you.

The main thing going for you is that you are a graduate of MMI. Harley Davidson has a close relationship with MMI, and the dealerships know what they are getting. AMI does NOT have a relationship with HD, and therefore their graduates do not have this same advantage. This was one of the primary reasons I chose MMI over AMI.

However, the graduate placement program does not have a magic wand. If you live in some little town, and there's only one HD dealership in the surrounding 60 mile radius, they likely won't be able to get you a job there (unless you already have an "in", and if so you didn't them anyway, right?). If a dealership is not hiring, they're not hiring, and MMI doesn't have a string they can pull to get you in. But as long as you are fairly flexible about where you would like to live and work, you should be able to get a job. My idea was to target larger metropolitan places with multiple dealerships as well as independent shops in the surrounding area. That way if I got tired of working at one place, I could hopefully find a job somewhere close. That was a major factor in targeting the Charlotte, NC area. There are 5 major dealerships in the area, as well as multiple independent shops. We also thought about the Atlanta, GA area, but decided that was TOO large of a metropolis, making commuting a nightmare. [After being in Charlotte for almost 4 years, we're very happy with the decision we made to come here.]

How it works

Six weeks from your graduation date, they have a big meeting and hand you some material. Included is a "resume", which basically lists the classes you took, as well as your GPA, and your attendance rate! They also give you a listing of just about every place that hires mechanics in America! That's HD, import, as well as marine (boat) mechanics! It's a long list, ordered by state. They ask you to look over this stuff, and then give them a listing of 5 or so places you'd like to apply. They then call these places, to see if there is any interest. If so, they fax your info over to them, and give you a contact name. The rest is up to you. If there is not interest from the first five, you can give them another list of five, and so on. But I will re-iterate here, as I have in other places... right there on the material the dealership sees, is your attendance rate. So many students I knew would frequently skip class, all they did was wanna party. Well, someone who's looking to hire you is going to be MOST unimpressed if they see that you couldn't be bothered to show up for class where you're supposed to be learning how to work on the bikes!

What I did:
I didn't bother dealing with the job placement people too much. I've gone about getting jobs in the past, and was confident that I could do at least as well as them, plus I wanted to hear for myself what the Service Manager said, and it allowed me to feel more in control of the situation. I knew I was interested in central NC, so I went to the HD site and used their "Dealer Locator" tool. It showed me every dealership, and gave the phone number. (This was easier to do than comb through the list given me at the meeting.) I then called the dealership, asked to speak to the Service Manager, and gave them my pitch. I basically indicated that I would soon be an MMI graduate and were they going to be hiring in the near future. Most replies I got were "not hiring", but several told me to fax my info to them, to keep in touch, and stop in and see them once I graduated. I would then go into the school and give the placement department the fax info, and let them fax it for me. That was about all I used them for. Anyway, I called the (possibly) interested dealerships again my last week of school to make sure they were still interested, and then took off the day after school was done. And as indicated above, had an offer that I accepted 5 days after graduation.

Salaries

This is the part that MOST people are curious about. Well, I have to tell you that the news isn't going to be too good. Starting HD salaries are atrocious! While I hear that some places in the U.S. pay good, all I can tell you is what I know about the South.

Central Florida:
As my wife and I was moving from California to Florida, we imagined that it might be nice to stay somewhere in Florida for awhile, hopefully not even move from Orlando. Well, once we found out about the salaries in the Orlando area (both for mechanics but even for what my wife does), we pretty much changed our mind. With so many students coming out of school every six weeks, the dealerships know that there is plenty of "fresh meat" available. Therefore, starting salaries is only in the $8 range! The offer I received from the Melbourne dealership, was much more than that but that was only as one of my (then) instructors recommended me. A combination of luck (the timing of it all) plus the fact that I worked hard in class, showed up, and had a mature attitude played a factor in that. But one of my good friends who was a top notch student ended up staying in Orlando, got a job at the Lakeland dealership and started at only $8 an hour.

North Carolina:

My story: I talked to two dealerships directly, and received an offer at one. I still had a couple of dealerships that I could have gone to, but I liked what I heard and accepted the offer.
Another MMI grads story: However, while I received what I thought was a reasonable starting salary (based on all that I'd been hearing), I discovered that a fellow mechanic who'd graduated MMI six months before me was only making TEN an hour! Now, he had been hired by a different Service Manager, and it's possible that because he was younger (early 20's) he didn't project a mature attitude, but I thought that was on the low side. I mean, I can see getting $10 an hour for the first 90 days to see how you're going to do, but then bump you up to something more reasonable after that. And I thought he was doing a good job. Well, the upshot is that he did get a raise after being there for 8 months, but apparently it wasn't enough to suit him. He decided to quit, and take a job making $17 an hour at Sysco (the food service company).
More info: One thing that helps, is the overtime. The first two years I was there, probably 75% of the weeks that we worked during the "busy" season (March through October), we worked 6 day weeks (the last year it was optional). The upside is the overtime REALLY makes a different in the check. The downside is that it is involuntary overtime, meaning they don't ask you if you want to work 6 days, they simply tell you that you are.