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How do you feel about customers whom come back after getting repairs elsewhere?

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I'd like to see a fun discussion on what you guys do and how you feel after you had recommended repairs and services on a customer's vehicle and they leave without performing them at your shop. 6 months later they come back for something and you realize (or they tell you) they had YOUR previous recommendations performed else where. The situation isn't that the other shop messed anything up, they just decided due to price or convenience they wanted to go somewhere else.

 

How do you guys feel? How do you treat the customer?

 

 

Just curious to see what you guys do and how you feel.

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They're not cheating on us per say but why not encourage them to stay faithful?

 

I'd also tell them that we do these inspections as a courtesy however it doesn't make sense for us to continue services outside of what they pay for. If they walk you're only losing a liability then and we're in this for the assets#

 

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Meh, doesn't happen often enough for us to worry about it or be a big deal. I'd keep on providing the same great customer service. The real question is why they had it done somewhere else, then you can know how to best handle the situation. At most, if the customer blatantly says they use us for our expert opinion then finds the cheapest price, I'd start charging that customer for any future inspections and any diag

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We had one customer who did that on a regular basis. They had us do some things but most was done elsewhere. We simply told them we did not want to work on their car anymore.

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We had one customer who did that on a regular basis. They had us do some things but most was done elsewhere. We simply told them we did not want to work on their car anymore.

Frank, think about how you would feel if you sat down in a restaurant and the manager came over and said you weren't welcome and that they refused to service you. Maybe next time you could try multiplying the labor time by 1.5 or more. Your tech would appreciate it, your wallet would appreciate it, and you might avoid alienating a customer. I've had a few customers who I don't get excited about seeing come through the door, so I do just that. Most of the time they stop coming in. A few keep coming back.

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I will just ask them straight up:

"Hey Mrs. Jones, I see that you had our recommendations done elsewhere. Just so that I can improve my business, do you mind if I ask why you had them done somewhere else and not through us?"

 

Just about everyone I've asked doesn't mind giving me an answer. I've see answers ranging from "I couldn't afford it" (maybe I forgot to explain financing options) "You were too expensive" (maybe I forgot to bring up the value that we provide with our services) etc... Either way, it provides valuable insight.

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I was just curious if this irked any of you guys. We don't have this happen often however when it does it gets me really annoyed. Not so much that they "cheated" on us but our "competition" if you can call them that in our area is generally sub par. The customers know they are sub par but price and sometimes convenience is a concern. We generally find all the mistakes and it goes over the customer's head. I suppose they don't want to look like morons for making a bad mistake.

 

What I find scary is we are turning people away at a record pace. Lots of phone callers we are disqualifying and also a lot of customers that are becoming less and less our profile client. The odd part is as we are doing this our profits are rising every month. I find this very off and quiet frankly alarming. We are getting super picky about who are dealing with and we are still winning. I am just not sure if this is sustainable LOL

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I will just ask them straight up:

"Hey Mrs. Jones, I see that you had our recommendations done elsewhere. Just so that I can improve my business, do you mind if I ask why you had them done somewhere else and not through us?"

 

Just about everyone I've asked doesn't mind giving me an answer. I've see answers ranging from "I couldn't afford it" (maybe I forgot to explain financing options) "You were too expensive" (maybe I forgot to bring up the value that we provide with our services) etc... Either way, it provides valuable insight.

This is the approach we recommend that works very well. And I agree.

The insight is super valuable!

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Frank, think about how you would feel if you sat down in a restaurant and the manager came over and said you weren't welcome and that they refused to service you. Maybe next time you could try multiplying the labor time by 1.5 or more. Your tech would appreciate it, your wallet would appreciate it, and you might avoid alienating a customer. I've had a few customers who I don't get excited about seeing come through the door, so I do just that. Most of the time they stop coming in. A few keep coming back.

 

It might make me rethink what I was doing! However, this was only one isolated case but they had my service writer so frustrated that I figured it was easier to replace a customer than a service writer.

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Frank, think about how you would feel if you sat down in a restaurant and the manager came over and said you weren't welcome and that they refused to service you. Maybe next time you could try multiplying the labor time by 1.5 or more. Your tech would appreciate it, your wallet would appreciate it, and you might avoid alienating a customer. I've had a few customers who I don't get excited about seeing come through the door, so I do just that. Most of the time they stop coming in. A few keep coming back.

 

There would most certainly be a reason if this happened to anyone. I've known several restaurant/pub owners who have had to do this actually.

It's generally because a "customer" comes in, buys a cheap item (generally a drink with free refills such as coffee or soda pop) and then spends little or nothing else.

This takes up a table that could be generating income (same as a bay) and keeps a server busy and away from well paying customers (same as a non-producing tech).

 

One owner had several pool tables and hosted a weekly pool league night, bringing in 20+ pool players at prime dinner time for 3 hours (great idea right?)

He ended up hating this decision because they all ate dinner at home first, and only spent a couple dollars on non-alcoholic drinks.

Some of them even complained that the waitresses didn't come often enough to "freshen up" their drinks, even though they weren't buying any food or alcoholic drinks.

The owner ended up cancelling the pool league night all together.

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There would most certainly be a reason if this happened to anyone. I've known several restaurant/pub owners who have had to do this actually.

It's generally because a "customer" comes in, buys a cheap item (generally a drink with free refills such as coffee or soda pop) and then spends little or nothing else.

This takes up a table that could be generating income (same as a bay) and keeps a server busy and away from well paying customers (same as a non-producing tech).

 

One owner had several pool tables and hosted a weekly pool league night, bringing in 20+ pool players at prime dinner time for 3 hours (great idea right?)

He ended up hating this decision because they all ate dinner at home first, and only spent a couple dollars on non-alcoholic drinks.

Some of them even complained that the waitresses didn't come often enough to "freshen up" their drinks, even though they weren't buying any food or alcoholic drinks.

The owner ended up cancelling the pool league night all together.

 

I grit my teeth every time I have to turn someone away but we are doing it and at a record number. Still making money. Doesn't mean I am not anxious about it though!

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This is one reason we charge for any diagnostic work period. As long as they pay our rate, the rest is up to them, of course we try and keep the work here but at least we're never out time/money.

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We offer a few inspections for free. Brakes, exhaust, suspension. But a good initial interview with the customer usually reveals whether or not we need to charge diagnostic labor to figure out the issue. Occasionally, we will not see/hear anything obvious with our inspection and will need to have the customer approve diag labor. And, on occasion, some customers will have the work done themselves, at their Uncle's shop, or go to a competitor. But the only way we know this is if they return and we're happy they returned. We ask if there was a reason they went somewhere else to have the work done and they tell us, we thank them for returning, and we hope for better next time. Now, if this happens a second time I flag their name and only allow them back in my shop for drop off appointments where we can work on the car on our schedule.

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This is one reason we charge for any diagnostic work period. As long as they pay our rate, the rest is up to them, of course we try and keep the work here but at least we're never out time/money.

 

 

We offer a few inspections for free. Brakes, exhaust, suspension. But a good initial interview with the customer usually reveals whether or not we need to charge diagnostic labor to figure out the issue. Occasionally, we will not see/hear anything obvious with our inspection and will need to have the customer approve diag labor. And, on occasion, some customers will have the work done themselves, at their Uncle's shop, or go to a competitor. But the only way we know this is if they return and we're happy they returned. We ask if there was a reason they went somewhere else to have the work done and they tell us, we thank them for returning, and we hope for better next time. Now, if this happens a second time I flag their name and only allow them back in my shop for drop off appointments where we can work on the car on our schedule.

 

 

yup we charge diag and inspection fees. We used to be more lax in the past but we have since implemented a very profitable diagnostic flow chart. I'd still rather not take in a customer that is going to jump around to other shops or perform work themselves as its still a waste of time overall.

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This is one reason I hate cheap oil changes, the tech finds things to up-sell just so the customer takes his business elsewhere to have the vehicle serviced.

 

I charge full price for LOF, and I have found out that customers that don't mind paying regular prices for oil changes, also do not have issues dropping the car off to have it serviced.

 

It takes Iron core discipline to choose to say no to unprofitable cheapskates, mostly because they seem to lead you to think they are customers.

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I was just curious if this irked any of you guys. We don't have this happen often however when it does it gets me really annoyed. Not so much that they "cheated" on us but our "competition" if you can call them that in our area is generally sub par. The customers know they are sub par but price and sometimes convenience is a concern. We generally find all the mistakes and it goes over the customer's head. I suppose they don't want to look like morons for making a bad mistake.

 

What I find scary is we are turning people away at a record pace. Lots of phone callers we are disqualifying and also a lot of customers that are becoming less and less our profile client. The odd part is as we are doing this our profits are rising every month. I find this very off and quiet frankly alarming. We are getting super picky about who are dealing with and we are still winning. I am just not sure if this is sustainable LOL

I would rather have a few profitable cars (jobs) in the parking lot than to have the lot mostly full with low-profit non-profile jobs. I need to meet my profit margins, ARO, CSI, and sales goals, and it's hard to do with "broke-minded" and/or $broke vehicle owners.

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If a customer balks at a job and I think they are going to get it done cheaper I offer a cheaper alternative. "You know Mrs. jones if you prefer lesser quality parts we can put them in and save you money. There's a reason someone else can do the job cheaper...cheaper parts. I assumed you wanted the best for your vehicle " most times they just buy the good stuff anyway

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Had a customer that comes to us for some oil changes and some service. Lifetime over last 24 months was about $1300. Found out he was taking our recommendations and going elsewhere to get the repairs done. We have turned off his contact opt ins and will politely decline to book him for further appointments. You might think I'm petty or maybe even a little crazy but in my eyes it ceased being a synergistic relationship when you are now using us for only oil changes or a second/third option. Its a waste of my tech's time and my service advisor when we have a lot of other great clients to serve. Bye Felicia!

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I'd like to give my input as well....

 

When i first bought my shop 6 years ago, within 12 months, I gradually increased the LOF price from $16 to $40.... Then past 5 years, only increased it 3% a year. It eliminated most of the customers I didn't want pretty quickly. Car count decreased rapidly first 12 months.... Then slowly started to increase.... What i saw was, we had more time to spend with each car and customer, which resulted in a more close relationship, and ( the bomb!) MANY REFERRALS! But due to lower car count and higher averages, the revenue fluctuates alot....didn't foresee that at the time :)

 

On diag charges: the ones that use me exclusively, I never charge. The referrals: i tell them, i count the diag charge towards repairs. The others: they approve it before I start looking at it, and again, I count it towards repair labor.... So far, its been OK.

 

On customer supplied parts: honestly, i have no problem with that as long as I charge full pop on labor at my rate ($115 and above)... I tell them there is absolutely no warranty, and also, if its the wrong part, they need to get to correct one within an hour, otherwise pay extra hour for occupying the lift :)

 

The ones that want to get big jobs somewhere else: i have no problem as well... As long as I charge my diag and full price on LOF, I did my job.... What pisses me off is other shops doing $20 LOF and not even doing it right in my area! They also advertise " we beat all estimates"... That is whats damaging the industry, but guess they are having a war on price because they can't win in the quality battle :)

 

So far, I am happy with the route I took.... Wish I could buy out my nearest competitor though :)

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I'd like to give my input as well....

 

When i first bought my shop 6 years ago, within 12 months, I gradually increased the LOF price from $16 to $40.... Then past 5 years, only increased it 3% a year. It eliminated most of the customers I didn't want pretty quickly. Car count decreased rapidly first 12 months.... Then slowly started to increase.... What i saw was, we had more time to spend with each car and customer, which resulted in a more close relationship, and ( the bomb!) MANY REFERRALS! But due to lower car count and higher averages, the revenue fluctuates alot....didn't foresee that at the time :)

 

On diag charges: the ones that use me exclusively, I never charge. The referrals: i tell them, i count the diag charge towards repairs. The others: they approve it before I start looking at it, and again, I count it towards repair labor.... So far, its been OK.

 

On customer supplied parts: honestly, i have no problem with that as long as I charge full pop on labor at my rate ($115 and above)... I tell them there is absolutely no warranty, and also, if its the wrong part, they need to get to correct one within an hour, otherwise pay extra hour for occupying the lift :)

 

The ones that want to get big jobs somewhere else: i have no problem as well... As long as I charge my diag and full price on LOF, I did my job.... What pisses me off is other shops doing $20 LOF and not even doing it right in my area! They also advertise " we beat all estimates"... That is whats damaging the industry, but guess they are having a war on price because they can't win in the quality battle :)

 

So far, I am happy with the route I took.... Wish I could buy out my nearest competitor though :)

You might be able to buy out your competitor if you charged appropriately for diag and refused customer supplied parts. If I may, let me show you how.

 

Customer supplied parts: If you replace a water pump that pays 1 hour and the water pump would sell for $100, your revenue per hour would be $215 (according to your $115 labor rate)

If you allow the customer to supply their part, your revenue per hour drops to $115.

 

As for diag, it boggles my mind how shops give this away. I used to do the same thing you did until I realized that diag is the hardest thing we do, so why would we give it away?!? Anybody can change an ignition coil, replace a catalytic converter, or flush a fuel system. Diagnosing is the hard part. Think about it. You probably have more applications from technicians who have 3-4 ASE certs and are good at front end work, but even less who say they excel at diagnostic work, ASE master certified, and have their own scanner. If anything, you should be charging more for diagnostics since their are no parts associated with the work. Like the example above, if you diagnose the water pump for 1 hour, your revenue per hour is only $115 (since no parts are associated with diagnosing). Your revenue per hour shouldn't go down, especially when your doing one of the hardest things in your shop, which is diagnosing.

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