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Service writer mindset, savvy customers pushing psychological buttons.

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I was at one of the shops last week, where I noticed a customer come in and start telling the service writer how her car is giving her problems since we last serviced it.


This is a new service writer and the senior guy was out on a dental appointment. The customer kept telling him how unhappy she was, and how she was not going to pay for all the shoddy work.


My guy was taken aback, and somewhat stumped, but the shop manager knows his customers well. He stepped in and greeted the customer, acknowledged her complaint and put her at easy. He looked up the service history and found all the notes about this particular customer. The last thing that was done to the car was rear brakes, but now she came in complaining about her steering.


When the car was inspected, road impact damage was found to the front suspension (lower control arm, strut, etc.). When she was asked if she hit something, she replied that she didn't know, and no one else drives the car.


Anyhow, we gave her an estimate, without batting a eye lash, she said, "oh, no. That's too much money." The manager stayed silent for a minute watching her, then, said "Okay then, you have our estimate, let me know when you are ready to proceed." She argued that it wasn't her fault, that it wasn't the front end problem, that it had something to do with the rear brakes, etc. The manager listened to her attentively, then again, said to her "I hear you. You have our estimate, let me know if you want to fix it or want to take it as it is". She called her husband, then passed the phone to the manager. I hear the manager repeat the estimate amount, and an approximate time when the car would be ready. The manager got the ok to proceed from the husband.


A friend of the woman had arrived by the time the manager was talking on the phone with the husband, as the call ended, the manager gives her phone back to her. She acknowledges the estimate and walks out with her friend.


I took a look at her account, they are a very long time customer. When I asked the manager about the account, he said they are weird customers but very loyal. The new service write said that he was glad the manager was there because he really would not have known how to deal with the "lady".


The point? Customers are out there that are difficult and you can't take it personally, they are just savvy people that know how to take every opportunity to their advantage.

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Great Tire Deal

Wanna talk about the ridiculous, today a guy stops by the shop with a 2013 Escalade, tells the SW that he has a front tire that is losing air fast. "No problem", says the SW, we can patch it for $24.95. "No." says the guy, "I have my own air compressor, I just need to plug it in to get some air". You know, like the 110v outlet. Unbelievable!

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Had one come in the other day for a battery but wouldn't buy the Interstate I had in stock. Why.... because it was the wrong color. Their battery was white and black not green and white. I was told I should find a new job because I obviously didn't know my job very well. chuckle...chuckle... I held the door open so they could leave.

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Before and after repairs and some customers will still try to blame you

For the ever since.

Usually it is six months down the road but they are just bringing it up now.


In this case I never accept

Responsibility for creating a problem I know I did not create.

Instead I urge them to let me take a look at it during the appointment and find out what may have arised.


Usually after more questioning they admit hitting something or taking it to another shop for related repairs.


It is offensive when they insinuate you

Messed their car up even when you know they're lying.....yes customers lie and it sucks but you Just have to stick to your guns and be adamant you will find the problem but also let them know it will cost some diagnosis time.

That one time that you forget to mention and note a noise or strange vibration during a test drive is the one that will most

Likely get blamed in you in the future.


Don't just discuss it with the customer, document it.

I had a guy blame me for a brake noise after we discussed it prior to repairs .

It was a fluid sloshing noise in the brake line that reverberated under the car

When you stepped on the brake pedal hard.


The customer and I discussed it prior to repairs but I did not document it and have him sign an affidavit...lol.


After I did the brake job the noise was still there and the customer blatantly denied our discussion about it, denied he told me it was doing it for quite some time and insisted I caused it.

I was mortified but I ended up getting his brake controller replaced under warranty at the dealership since it was covered for ten years due to an ungodly amount of customer

Complaints of this issue.


Needless to say I refused to do any further work for that guy and I told him so after everything was all said and done .

He never even thanked me for taking care of his problem that he blatantly lied to me about.


Wanna know the kicker?

He is a police officer, high up in rank too.


Nice guy huh?

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There are a ton of weird people out there. Some do it to try and have their way, others do it because they are just jaded, and bitter individuals. They have lost all hope, and think everyone is out to get them. Others are just a mess and irresponsible, and others are just plain loonie:


I had a guy bring me an X5 with the rear suspension on the ground. After looking at the car I found all kinds of DIY disasters. I took pictures of everything, and noted it on the inspection sheet. Except the guy would not sign. I told him Sir, this is in both of our best interests. It is for insurance purposes. I am required to do this. He would not sign. Said I'm not signing anything, pulls out cash, and says here this is for checking it. I'm good, I got the cash. I went back and forth with him, explaining it is not about the money. It is for liability purposes, vehicles have to be inspected, and signed off on prior to any work performed. Florida law. Guy says, well take it down, I'm not signing anything. So I did. Parked it outside, and guy jacks it up in the parking lot, and commences to tinker with it in my lot! I just left him be, figured not worth to expend the energy. I probably should have called law enforcement when I think about it though. Eventually he left, but not without leaving bolts, trash, and wire ties all over my parking lot.


Another case I once had was with a customer who brought me a MINI Cooper. It arrives on the tow truck. Guy seemed really cool, really friendly. Tells me "I'm a bus mechanic at the county. This here has a bad oil pump. I don't want to get into it though, rather let someone else handle it. Too tight in there." I was already skeptical but w/e. Signed off on the quote, and got started. Once I opened up the engine, it was apparent the guy had never done an oil change to save his life. I mean it was sludge city in there. Car also had 158k miles. I contacted him about the findings. I tell him buddy, your problem is further than an oil pump, that engine is sludged really really bad. We need to pressure flush the entire lubrication system, and see where that takes us. My advice would be to remove the rod end caps and inspect all the rod bearings, before proceeding forward. No sense in trying to salvage a bad engine. Well, when I pulled the oil pan, I found a rod laying in all it's shattered glory, at the bottom of the pan. I got a bad feeling instantly, but I called the guy anyway. Told him about the bad news, but that I had a spare MINI engine with under 80k miles verified. Guy's response to me was "No I can't do that, how much to rebuild the one that is in there?" I tell him a lot more than just swapping engines. Plus the down time, and honestly, I just don't have the time right now to dedicate to such a large project. His response was that the car was a lease, and he could not swap the engine because they check that.


Car was over 5 years old, and had 158k miles. If it even was a lease, that would be the least of his worries.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      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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