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And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors... - Customer beware....


Gonzo

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And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors…

You’re home, kicking back on the couch watching your favorite TV show when a commercial comes on. It’s one of those ads for some new pill on the market. The announcer asks if you suffer from the aliment they’re describing, and then tells you about this great new medication that will set things straight. Of course, it’s soon followed by all the apparent side effects associated with this new drug. A lot of times, the part about the side effects takes longer to describe than the benefits of this new wonder pill. Eventually, the commercial ends the same way they all do, “Ask your doctor about . . .”

Let’s say you’re one of those hypochondriacs and you head to the doctor because you believe you’ve got “it”, whatever “it” is that was described in the commercial. The doctor performs a few tests and maybe a little blood work only to find out there’s nothing wrong with you. But, being the hypochondriac that you are, you demandingly tell your doctor that in fact you are ailing from whatever was described in this TV ad and, you know exactly what new modern pill will fix you right up. The doctor on the other hand, sends your psychotic self on your merry way, washes his hands of the whole thing, and probably refers you to someone in the Sigmund Freud side of the medical biz. (Not before he gives you your bill of course.)

Don’t you think your doctor already knows about this new drug? If not, I’m sure it wouldn’t take much for the doctor to do some research and find out all there is to know. And, don’t you think it would be wise to follow the advice of your doctor rather than some announcer on a TV commercial?

Sometimes I feel the same way when somebody comes into the lobby and starts explaining to me their perceived failure of their personal car. I give them my advice on the matter, which usually goes in one ear and out the other. I’m just a mechanic you know, and not a highly trained professional. (A little sarcasm there…probably would have done better if I was the announcer.) But, what if automotive commercials were portrayed in the same manner as these new drugs on TV?

 

You know, instead of the trash talking commercials telling consumers how their shops are better than every other type of automotive shop in town, or those parts stores that sell everything from A to Z and offer a life time warranty. Let’s be honest people! Ok, ya gotta a cheaper product, I’ll give you that. But, throw a disclaimer in there with that 60 seconds. Let’s talk about the effects of putting a cheap part on a car. And, seriously… let’s talk about the qualifications of these grease rack nut busters.

Rather than telling everyone all the virtues of your warranties and how friendly your counter people are, let’s focus on those side effects from taking the cheaper route. How about informing the public of what happens when you use the wrong viscosity oils and not that all your mechanics can leap tall buildings and swing through trees. (I took a poll… 4 out of 5 mechanics can’t leap tall buildings, nor swing through trees.)

It’s no wonder automotive repair ranks up there with the most dreaded and/or distrusting ventures the average consumer wants to be involved with. They hear all this talk about maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, but find out that if they accidentally skipped an oil change once or twice their car hasn’t exploded or fallen apart… (Yet). It’s hard for an unknowing consumer to trust a mechanic when some goof ball announcer is on the TV telling them something entirely different than their mechanic. Inevitably, maintenance is put on hold, or it’s completely forgotten about. When the car does break down (which it will) it generally leads to some heated exchanges about the extensive repair costs and/or the car being traded in for the next maintenance ignored family truckster.

My advice to those people who put these automotive commercials together, instead of taking up 60 seconds of air time trying to tell me how much better you are how about informing the consumer of the side effects, tell them about cheap parts, and poor maintenance. And, one more thing, all mechanics and all repair shops are not the same. Unless you’re comparing apples to apples, there are no comparisons to be made. When a shop that specializes in let’s say tires, puts an ad together on late night TV or on the radio saying they are a full service shop, and we (the mechanics who have been in the business for years) know all too well that particular shop doesn’t have the technicians to cover their claim. Where’s the disclaimer there? I suppose that’s freedom of speech, a 1st amendment kind of thing. Maybe so, but the side effects means a trip to a reputable shop to fix it correctly. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to diagnose a car for a shop like I’m describing, or do the actual repair for them.

Maybe I’m being a bit of a hypochondriac about the health of the family car. Or maybe I’m just trying to look out for my customers and warn them before they get caught up in all the hype they see or hear. I can’t say all these ads are bad, they’re not. But, with a few bucks you can create your own slick ad campaign, and the actual quality of the parts or shop can be over shadowed by some catchy slogan or song, which gives that false impression of excellence to the consumer. In the end who’s left to deal with the side effects? The consumer of course.

It’s “buyer beware” out there. Seems selling cheap parts and bragging about your abilities isn’t a crime, while advertising some new drug and not telling the consumer it can cause heart attacks and hearing loss (in some cases)… is. I guess it’s not important to know those cheap brake pads that the discount lube shop put on are going to fail at 75 mph and quite possibly send you into oncoming traffic. (Your results may vary)

 

Anymore, I just roll my eyeballs when one of these automotive commercials comes on late night television, and I’ll bet a doctor does the same thing when one of those drug ads comes on. But, at least for the doctor’s sake, the manufacturers have to state all the side effects in the commercial. But for the speeding projectile we call the family car… you’re on your own. Those side effects are only noticed after that customer wants to go cheap and not follow their professional’s advice. It’s a soap opera of problems out there… will it ever change? Will those brake pads fail? Can we expect better consumer awareness in the future? What’s next? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

 

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

 

 


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This is actually a serious issue. Take into consideration quality of parts and quality of work. And, the consumer, who makes decisions based on the dollar, without considering safety or integrity. I recently refused a brake job that needed rotors because the customer wanted to only slap on pads.

 

And why do we accept those ridiculous drug commercials?

 

Imagine this:

 

AD: Is your car having driveability issues? Stalling, hard start and low fuel mileage? Your car may need "BoosterPro" . This product will put the life back into your car's engine. Ask you car care specialist about "BoosterPro" - (fade to a car owner hugging his car with the hood open)

 

Disclaimer: May cause severe internal engine damage, transmission damage, damage to your cars cooling system and fuel system. If you experience idle engine surge for more than four hours, seek help from you car care specialist.

Exactly my point. When does the consumer find out about cheap parts and widgets like your BoosterPro? When it doesn't live up to the commercialized expectations ... that's when.

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The sad part is they keep believing in the "booster pro". How many cars do you see rusted out with one of those little rust proof boxes dangling where the fender used to be? Guess what, the next beauty they buy will definitely have a new rust proof box installed, maybe even a magnetic gas saver strapped to the intake duct. When it doesn't work they blame themselves for not recharging the flux capacitor annually or some other quack science reason. I've never once heard anyone say "you know what, this bogus crap was a waste of money and I feel stupid falling for it"

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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