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5 Star Auto Spa

Do you charge or not charge in this scenario?

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Your technician performs an oil change or state inspection and finds a side marker light bulb out.  The CSA gets approval from the customer to replace the bulb.  The technician performs the labor to gain access to the bulb.  The technician finds that water intrusion has caused damage to the socket.  The CSA notifies the customer but the customer declines the service.  Do still charge for the labor portion of the originally approved bulb service as this was already performed but the bulb was not replaced?  Do you not charge anything at all because the issue was not resolved?

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This is one of those things you will come to learn through experience.

I charge it, but before you make any decisions let me tell you how is it that I have arrived at my position. -How well do you know this customer? I have learned through experience that a light bulb out, is not always just a burn light bulb. Teach this to your Service Advisors, and techs, although techs should already know this. I learned early on that Mercedes and BMWs would suffer from defective sockets, VW, Fords, whatever. So before you offer and service, make sure you have an idea of what the worse case scenario can be.

So, in this particular case, I would have had the tech check to make sure it was only a bulb that was needed before calling the customer or would have told the customer that a light was out and we didn't if it was a burn bulb, fuse, or socket. That way you would have not surprised the customer if he declined the repair.

So depending how good this customer is, and how well I know them, I would charge them for the install and tell them I would give them a credit when they want return for the complete repair. The point is, you want to keep the customer if he is worth it.

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My question is, Why would the customer decline the repair and not have the bulb working?  It's a state inspection, and now the car fails?  It's a socket and bulb, not 4 tires and brakes?  Have you had prior history with the customer?  How was job sold?

 

 

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Thanks for the replies Joe and Harry.  

To answer Joe's questions:  The vehicle was a new vehicle with low mileage.  The customer suspected that it might be covered under warranty and wanted to take it to the dealer to verify.  It was a first time customer who had no previous work history with our shop.  The job was sold with the assumption that it was the bulb but upon further investigation by the technician, the socket had been damaged due to rain intrusion.  We charged for the bulb service labor but did not charge for the part/bulb itself as this would not have resolved the customer's issue.  

To Harry:  How do you typically sell/price a light that has gone out on a vehicle from an oil change/state inspection?  Typically customers want a price before committing to a service and the price could vary based off of all of the different reasons why a light could be out.  We typically sell with the assumption that the bulb itself has gone out unless we can see obvious damage.

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1 hour ago, 5 Star Auto Spa said:

To Harry:  How do you typically sell/price a light that has gone out on a vehicle from an oil change/state inspection?  Typically customers want a price before committing to a service and the price could vary based off of all of the different reasons why a light could be out.  We typically sell with the assumption that the bulb itself has gone out unless we can see obvious damage.

5 Star, I don't have to tell you, everything is about communication. Know your customer is not only good policy for the banking industry, it is the same with us. For example, the cashier girl is more price sensitive than the IT engineer guy. So, when you offer a service, leave it open to additional work that may be needed. We do this all the time, " Joe, you have a light out, could be the bulb, but sometimes the connector melts or corrodes, we will check it out, ok." My point is to always manage expectations to provide the best customer experience.

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Thanks for the reply Harry.  In that scenario you just mentioned, what do you charge the customer to "check it out"?  Is that service complimentary?  Do you charge for "checking it out" if the customer declines the service once you have told him what he/she needs to fix the issue?

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44 minutes ago, 5 Star Auto Spa said:

Thanks for the reply Harry.  In that scenario you just mentioned, what do you charge the customer to "check it out"?  Is that service complimentary?  Do you charge for "checking it out" if the customer declines the service once you have told him what he/she needs to fix the issue?

Hmm, I don't follow the question. Are you setting me up? :)

Well, I have to know what's it I am selling, so yeah complementary to check it out. But if I have to diagnose an electrical issue, I give the customer a preliminary estimate before we teardown. Again, know your customer. Keep in mind, there are opportunistic people that will not buy from you, but get anything you give them for free. ( I am sure you know this, but I am being verbose for the young guys that are learning the ropes.)

Edited by HarrytheCarGeek
a word

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Sometimes in business, there are a lot of gray areas. Auto repair is not an exact science, and we can't always pick from a menu like a cashier at a McDonalds. 

The other day a customer came in complaining of a driveline noise. We have a standard charge for the test package to determine the problem. Half-way thru the testing the Service Advisor stopped the tech. It dawned on him that the car was a year old with 13,000  miles on it. We advised the customer seek warranty and did not charge her.

Now, if the customer requested us to complete the testing after we informed her about her dealer warranty, I would have charged, Whether she did the repair with us or not.

In business you must look at your overall gross profit and net profit; are your making enough?  If not, the holes in your business are probably not those little gray areas.

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Like Joe says, there is a lot of gray areas with issues like this in the business.  Like most of the other reply's here, a lot of it has to do with how you present it to the customer.  It's not totally clear from your post, but it sounds like your CSA presented the issue "bulb out"  and the solution "replace bulb" and the cost.  The customer agreed to the "cost" to "solve his issue".  So if the "issue" is not resolved, you cannot fault the customer for not wanting to pay the "cost".  A lot of customer's will understand, but it is not unreasonable for a customer to see this as unfair.  Now, if you state to the customer, "you have a bulb out and we need to start by finding out why, and that will cost x and if it is just a bulb, it will only be x", what you are selling them and what they agree to are very different.  That way there should be no conflict getting paid for it as you should. 

 

Scott        

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