The good and bad of 2011 --- the year in review
With the end of the year upon us, I thought it would be a perfect time to list some of the things I've run across that have just tripped my trigger… more than usually do. With cars lasting longer, internet sources, and good old fashion stupidity things are even crazier than in years past. Ok, there are more, but these are the ones that I thought most of us in the business have run into. But I don't want to end the year on such a sour note, how about we compare the good with the bad at the same time. I'm sure you have your own, and probably a few better ones.
#12 the bad --- A customer just made the deal of the century off of E-Bay, which actually turns out to be the worst car still on four wheels, and now it's in the shop.
#12 the good --- My customers still think I'm worth the effort to fix their newest find.
#11 the bad --- That new pocket screwdriver has a really powerful magnetic tip on it… and it seems to find everything it can to stick to every time you lean over a hood, rather than staying clipped to your pocket.
#11 the good --- I still haven't poked myself with the screwdriver when it's standing straight out from the core support.
#10 the bad --- Wanna-be mechanics who come into the shop and tell me, "I've already changed the coolant fan, the fuse, the relay, and the sensors that the last guy told me to change. So it's got to be the wires that are bad. Which ones do I have to change? (Their thinking, "Let's not even consider testing anything, let's just change parts until it works.")
#10 the good --- I know which wires they're referring too.
#9 the bad --- Dropping sockets, wrenches and any other tools into the drain pan when it's full of oil or coolant. (Timeless, not just 2011)
#9 the good --- I can still find them.
#8 the bad --- A customer tells me, "My car shouldn't be broken, I just paid it off."
#8 the good --- Customers value my advice as to how to maintain their cars.
#7 the bad --- An extremely insistent customer tells you, "I need it done today! So drop everything you've got going on, and get this done for me. Call me right away!" I call them as soon as I get it done and they tell me … (see #6)
#7 the good --- I'm glad I've got customers, any customers.
#6 the bad --- "I'll pick it up in the morning." (Which actually turns out to be later that afternoon.)
#6 the good --- The job's done, and there's more work in the shop.
#5 the bad --- Changing oil on a customer's car, and you reach up for the oil filter… and it's on so tight you can't even budge it.
#5 the good --- I've got the tool to get the thing off.
#4 the bad --- A customer's car with the seat all the way up under the steering wheel with huge amounts of crap jammed behind the driver's seat and now the seat won't budge. (I can't squeeze behind the wheel with only 5 inches of clearance.) (Toss the basketball, extra purse, laundry…etc… on the other side of the car… now, move the seat back and get in.)
#4 the good --- I realize I need to go on a diet.
#3 the bad --- That special ordered part you've been waiting on… it's the wrong one.
#3 the good --- I can return the part.
#2 the bad --- the correct one… it's twice as much as the one you quoted the customer, and it's been in stock the whole time.
#2 the good --- With great customers it's not hard to explain things and get the problem solved.
#1 the bad --- Since cars are lasting longer and longer, parts are an issue. This is the no#1 problem I've had this year.
You call the parts department at the dealership, and ask about a part. They have the corrected part number; they also have the current price. You ask them when they can get it, and they answer, "It's been discontinued."
#1 the good --- After being in the business for so long, I can just about tell a customer what the outcome is going to be before I even order a part. That's where years of experience pay off, and makes me even more thankful to be in business for another year.
The challenges of running a small business can be one of the hardest things that you'll ever face in your life time. But at the same time it can be as rewarding as anything else you'll deal with. I'm ready for those obstacles and ready to take on the challenge.
Bring it on! I'm here for another year!
Happy New Year to all! I hope 2012 brings a profitable and enjoyable year to you and your family.