Quantcast
Jump to content


Gonzo

Article: Pay To Play - Doctor visits and mechanic diagnostics - are they the same thing?

Recommended Posts

Pay to Play

Playing the diagnostic game in the auto repair business isn’t for everyone. Some repair shops don’t want to deal with any of those heavy-hitter type of diagnostic problems. They would rather deal with the simple, basic, and easy-to-fix problems that make quick money and take little effort on their part. Anything that’s going to take time to figure out they’ll send down the road to a shop that will work on those type of problems. I’m one of those shops that everybody sends their headaches to. It has its draw backs for sure, but the reward for me is getting in there, finding the problem, and doing what seems impossible to others.

One of the major issues with being more of a specialty diagnostic shop is how the customer perceives what a mechanic can or cannot do. Most of the time they’ve already spent their limit at the guess-at-it-until-ya-get-it shops and aren’t keen on spending any amount of money on diagnostic time. Which, as in most of these heavy-hitter type diagnostic cases, is the majority of the work needed to be done. I hear it all the time from folks who still believe all mechanics are alike and price is their only concern. “I’ve already spent “X” amount of money and it’s still broke. Why should I spend more money just for YOU to look at the car?”

It must be a bit unnerving to some, forking over their cash just to have their car “looked” at. Although, they don’t seem to think twice about it when they pull the check book out at the reception desk after their doctor “looked” at them. Whether they feel any better at the time they’re writing the check or not because they’re confident that a quick stop at the pharmacy to pick up that prescription will fix them right up; good as new. However, paying a professional mechanic to do his or her “looking” is simply out of the question.

The way I see it, “Ya gotta pay to play” folks. Wherever this idea that a mechanic can walk out to the parking lot, wave his magical ratchet over the left rear tail light and all will be in working order is totally absurd. I mean seriously, the car has one service light, but hundreds and hundreds of reasons why it might be on. A battery drain can come from anywhere, a shorted fuse can be caused by all kinds of things, and as far as intermittent problems well, the possibilities are endless. Not to mention when some jackleg gets under the dash and starts adding their version of electrical wizardry to the problem.

Some people just can’t make the connection between a doctor’s office visit and a mechanic’s diagnostic time. They’re stuck on this “look” thing. For that small number of people out there who don’t see the similarities between a doctor visit and automotive diagnostics, it’s not likely you’re going to change their mind about it any time soon.

The last example of the “ain’t playin’ the diagnostic game” told me that he would only let me work on the car if I could guarantee it wouldn’t cost more than $400.00 bucks. I told him, “I’d like to say that it wouldn’t cost more than that, but what happens if I get in there and find the part alone costs $500.00 dollars, then what?” His answer, “Then I’d forget about fixing it, and I’d pay you for your time. How much do ya think that would be?” I smiled and answered as I pointed to the diagnostic fee on the wall, “The diagnostic fee, just what I’ve been explaining to you all along. Ya gotta pay to play the game, and that’s the diagnostic fee. Otherwise, I don’t play.”

He still didn’t get it. I then told him, “You want me to guess at how much it will cost when I haven’t a clue what’s wrong. At this point I don’t even know what color the car is let alone the extent of your problem. Furthermore, you’ve had somebody work on it before. They’ve wired around some sort of switch you mentioned to me earlier about, and obviously I’ll have to undo all of that to determine the exact problem. Does that make sense now?” As if to show how my lack of intelligence about his car was quite obvious to him, he answered sternly, “It’s dark blue.” Not another word was spoken. I’m completely flabbergasted. Looks like the two of us are not going to play, because he’s not willing to pay. Instead of going any further, I figured it was time to throw the towel in on this one and call it a stalemate. All this transpired about the same time he thanked me for talking with him and was heading out the door to find the next guy who would “look” at his car.

Seriously, what’s free these days? If ya wanna play, ya gotta pay. Simple as that. I doubt if you went into the doctor’s office and said you weren’t going to pay for his time, the doctor would tell you to get lost or at least want to know why you didn’t want to pay for his services. I’m sure if you told him, “I ain’t payin’ ya just to look at me. I’m only going to pay you to fix me.” The doctor might think you’re just a bit touched and in need of a different kind of doctor. But, as it is... mechanics diagnosing a tough problem have to deal with the “I ain’t payin’ ya to look at it” game nearly every day.

Maybe in the future, all this will change. It has to. Cars are getting even more complicated and have amassed huge networks of electronics and mechanical parts that shouldn’t be left to the untrained and stab-at-it-until-ya-get-it type of repairs. Like a doctor, a professional mechanic might have a pretty good idea of what is ailing a car, but testing and diagnosing it is the game we all have to play to sort out the real tough problems and not just make assumptions. You want professional service… Pay to play, then the game is on.



Click here to view the article
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


We allow visitors to read the first post of each topic. To continue reading responses, you must be signed in.

Edited by skm
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Forum Topics

    • Killer Holiday Tip for your repair shop

      Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating.  One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver.  You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long.  Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on.  Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart.  So, here's what you are going to do.  Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate.  Nothing expensive.  During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do." Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them.  The second thing that will happen is this:  The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first?  Yes...Yours!  

      By Joe Marconi, in Joe’s Business Tips For Shop Owners

        
      • 2 replies
      • 72 views
    • Seeking/open to Partnership for Repair Shop Planning

      Hey All, My name is Karla, I had previously owned a 3-bay mechanical repair shop in Burlington, VT for 6 years and built it to maintain an outstanding reputation and provide a comfortable income. I had the opportunity to sell my half of the business and finalized that deal this past fall. I have worked in all areas of the auto repair industry over the past 15 years, graduated from a two-year ASE certified auto tech program and went on to earn my Bachelor’s in business and a masters degree in executive leadership.  I have some capital I will be contributing to the planning and opening of a new shop and am very open to meeting potential partners/investors in all areas of the country. I greatly look forward to building something new in a location new to me. Anyway, I’d like to welcome all /any interest and to answer any questions about joining forces in shop planning and management. Please do not hesitate to contact me, thanks for considering! —Karla

      By KDshopNEA, in Automotive Business Opportunities

      • 1 reply
      • 299 views
    • Free Simple Shop Management Software

      Hey Everyone, I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports.  You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ.  We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software.  We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from.  We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.   We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser: Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop.  You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email. Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs. Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.

      By CAR_AutoReports, in Management Software, Web Sites & Internet

      • 4 replies
      • 277 views
    • Mobile Auto Repair?

      Hello Everyone! Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as I did. I wanted to bring this topic up because of PEP BOYS recent "expansion" into launching their "mobile" service. I was interested in your thoughts. Are mobile mechanics a threat to your shop in any way? What are your thoughts? Do they/can they provide the service that today's cars need? 

      Or, on the other hand, do you operate as a mobile tech? What are the struggles you face. From what I am hearing, people "seem" to expect mobile to be cheaper. 
       
      Only trying to start a discussion about this - and really because, from what I am seeing, there's a lot of buzz around the Pep Boys effort.  Comments? Really interested to know your thoughts.    Matthew Lee
      "The Car Count Fixer"
        PS: Join me on YouTube and check out this totally FREE on-line course I'm offers- "How to Double your Car Count in 89 Days!"

      By JustTheBest, in Auto Repair Shop Management Help? Post Here!

        
      • 4 replies
      • 133 views
    • Do you guarantee results from your diagnostic time?

      I think we all know that diagnostics is the most costly service we provide in the automotive repair business today. In today's automotive repair environment, you need to be selling diagnostics, and getting paid for it. I'm looking for feedback on when things don't go exactly as planned.  Let's say a car comes in and you sell some diagnostics, by the hour, or from a menu. After you complete that work, and you still don't have an answer, do you go back to the customer and sell some more? Do you continue at your expense? If you do go back to the customer, and you have nothing conclusive after that, then what? Do you keep going back and selling more diagnostic work until you solve the problem? If you continue to go back and sell more, how many times can you do that? We've all had that car that we've worked on for weeks to find some strange problem. I doubt many customers are willing to pay for the 40 hours you spent on the car. Now lets say after 5 hours of work that the customer agreed to, you are no closer to finding the issue than when the car came in. Do you charge them for the 5 hours and send them down the road even though you have not provided them with a diagnoses? Do you start spending your time trying to solve the issue because you have a hard time charging for 5 hours and are unable to provide any answers? I'm asking these questions as I am rethinking my business strategy on diagnostics a little. Our shop is known for its abilities to diagnose problems. We have other shops bringing cars to us on a regular basis because of these abilities. I actually get several calls and emails weekly from across the county for help diagnosing problems. There are times, a lot of times, when I think this is more of a curse, than a blessing. I know we are in the business of fixing cars, and we need to be able to find problems if customers are going to keep coming back. But after my lead tech and I spent a considerable amount of time over the last 15 days diagnosing the strangest intermittent no start issue on an Audi, and watching his frustration grow everyday, not because of the difficulty of the issue as we both love the challenge, but because it held him back from addressing the other work that was coming in the shop.  So, as rewarding as it was to solve that mystery, I can't help but look back at what it cost me financially, and the frustration to the technician, and realize we have to come up with a way to try to avoid going down those rabbit holes. Right now my idea is to give it 1 hour. If after an hour, we are not relatively certain that we will find the issue, with another hour or two, then let the car go. Let the customer know that it's not that we can't fix the car, but that we cannot fix it efficiently. If I lose that customer, it would probably still be cheaper that working on his car for 2 weeks. Love to hear your thoughts. Scott          

      By ScottSpec, in Auto Repair Shop Management Help? Post Here!

      • 9 replies
      • 479 views
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×