Quantcast
Jump to content


    • You can post now and register later. Already registered? sign in now to post with your account.
    • ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

        Only 75 emoji are allowed.

      ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

      ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

      ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


      Once you submit your question, a new topic will be created for you in our forums. Our moderators may move your topic to a more suitable forum category if one exists. Members will see your topic and be able to respond to your question.

    • This will not be shown to other users.
Sign in to follow this  
Gonzo

Article: Poke It With A Sharp Stick - car repair is so simple...even a cave man can do it (NOT!)

Recommended Posts

Poking it with a Sharp Stick
 
      It's not so much that I work with the general 
public in my daily business, it's more of what 
kind of 'public' gives me the business.  I'm not 
talking about people who can think and reason 
like most educated, knowledgeable people.  It's 
that ever present cave man mentality.  You know the type, the guy who's elevator doesn't go to the top floor, or the couple who can't seem to keep both oars in the water.  The all seem to lack one simple characteristic, common sense.  The very quality that every halfwit adventure I've either seen, (or been a part of) have in common.  (I can't leave myself out of this one... guilty as charged)
 
      It stands to reason if some of these mental giants were among the intrepid pioneers who crossed the great divide in a Conestoga wagon, they probably would be the ones that never made it. But, with so many modern conveniences like diet, clean water, and modern medical care, these half-wit trail blazers roam freely throughout every part of the countryside. 
 
       There was a comedian some years ago who told a story about his ancestors from the Stone Age.  He commented on how some people felt it necessary to leave the safety of the cave to take on some huge beast with nothing more than a sharpened stick, only to be trampled to death by the same prehistoric behemoth.  He went on to say, “My relatives were the ones who stayed in the cave... how else can explain my being here?!  If my ancestors were the ones who got killed off, how would it be possible for me to be standing here telling you all about them? My relatives had the good sense to stay out of harm’s way.  Were my ancestors brave? Sure they’re brave, they’re just not stupid.”  
 
       “Oh look, large man eating beast outside the cave, I’ll stay here… you can go out there.  I’ve gotta sharpen my stick, and while you’re gone I'll paint your picture on these cave walls. Our ancestors will think you’re great hunters that way.” 
(“Right, when in fact they’re running for your lives…!”)
 Funny, yes, true... I guess so, and in similar ways, it’s how some people tackle car repair.  
 
       In most states there’s no regulation to keep someone from poking their pointed stick under the hood of their car, or hanging a shingle on a shop door and call themselves a “mechanic”.  The unsuspecting consumer is at the mercy of the phone book (and other sources) to find a shop that can actually make the appropriate repairs on their car.  It's like the car has turned into a huge mammoth, and the person attempting the repair is just taking stabs at it with a sharp stick.  No training, no experience, and more than likely no clue what they are doing.  This is but one of the many reasons why the automotive field gets such low marks in the consumers’ eyes.  As one of my customers told me, “It's getting harder and harder to find a good mechanic these days”.  And, from what I can tell, it hasn’t been much better in previous decades either.
 
       A typical example of this was last week.  An older gentleman came into the shop with an air conditioning problem on his 1967 Thunderbird.  Sweet ride, entirely original... just the way he liked it.  He had been to several shops trying to get the air conditioning working.  This car was factory equipped with the old style compressor and A/C lines that didn't use a Schrader valve, but instead had the hand shut off valves that you moved (in the correct direction) to recharge or change the compressor.  The owner’s story was that every place he went to, no one knew how to use the hand valves correctly to refill the system.  They were all good at replacing parts, but had no clue as to how the system worked.    I'm old enough to have worked on these when they were very common.   All the previous shops could have figured out how they operated, if they would have just put down their pointy stick, and did a little research.  (FYI - There's only 3 positions to be concerned about: Front seated blocks off the compressor, Mid-position is used to allow flow between entire system, compressor, and the gauge port, and the most important one, back seated, which allows the entire system to work normally.)
 
       Turned into an easy job for me; all in all, the A/C system was blowing cold air in no time.  All it took was a little basic knowledge rather than guessing at it. (No telling what parts actually needed replaced, by the time I saw the car everything was new, oiled, and mounted correctly.)  Too bad for the owner though, he paid each and every one of them to do what I just did... make cold air. The T-bird owner was overjoyed to finally have his air conditioning back in working order.  (He did tell me he wasn't about to use those other guys ever again.)  I guess after so many pokes with that sharp stick the T-Bird owner had had enough.  
 
      Then there’s the DIY'r trying to repair the car in the family cave.   First it’s a jab with the pointed end of their stick, then two, then another, until they either figure it out, or they find the information they need to make the repairs.  There's been a lot of talk lately about the factory information not being available... really??  What Neanderthal told you that?   I've been working professionally in the car repair business for a long time and I've never had any problem obtaining factory information. The hard part is getting the right scanners (at reasonable prices) and education these days.  It's out there; it just may take a little poking around to find it. (Pun intended)  The big thing is, it’s not free, never has been.  Poking the sharp end of your stick at the manufacturer and expecting him to roll over like a wounded mammoth and hand you the information for free … just ain't happening… ever.  
 
     I have this mental image of a DIY'r and their protégé the “untrained mechanic” as the cave men portrayed in the painting with the great mammoth in center.  The cave men are throwing their spears into the beast, but the huge behemoth of prehistoric times still isn't quite finished off.   It's not a futile effort, if they keep stabbing at it they’ll eventually get the job done.  Gee, doesn’t that sound just like a couple of guys trying to figure out what’s wrong with the car by throwing part after part at it?  It does to me.   
 
      Poking around with that Stone Age sharpened stick method of diagnostics is a slow and unproductive way of making any kind of automotive repair. But, I still see the same kind of poor workmanship even today.  Working on modern cars, and even one from a few decades ago requires the right tools, the right information, and some good old fashion common sense.  If you’ve got all that, you’ve got half the battle won.  That common sense and good repair practices goes a long way. One thing’s for sure… it beats poking it with a sharp stick.  

View full article

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We allow visitors to read the first post of each topic. To read this post, please login or register for a membership. 

  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We allow visitors to read the first post of each topic. To read this post, please login or register for a membership. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Topics

    • By DiscoDave
      I am helping a growing business to be more efficient.  As part of this, I am looking at a service to maintain our general hardware and supplies.  The shop needs a manager as the owner is too involved with the shop - and rightly so as he is highly respected in his arena.  That's another discussion.
      As he moved into a larger facility and hired more people. I'm working on efficiencies.  The current goal is to have common hardware an supplies on hand, always.  I am looking for a service to handle this.  I have spoken with Rogo, Fastenal and Kimball Midwest.   Any other suggestions?  Runs to the hardware store are costly...
      TIA,
      Dave
    • By Joe Marconi
      I can't speak about all businesses in my area, but the repair shops are doing ok. In fact, most had a normal or near normal summer.  A few weeks back we had a major storm that knocked out power for nearly the week. That killed the week. But aside from that, we had a very good June, July and August.   With a miserable March and April, this was a great morale lift and financial boost.
      The only  down side is the affect COVID is having on other businesses, like restaurants, deli's, sport businesses and other businesses. Will this have a trickle down effect on our industry.  No one can tell for sure.
      I will be shoring up my finances and preparing for the unknown. 
       
       
       
    • By Alex
      Has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted your auto shop business? If it hasn't yet, it has the potential to do so soon. Please share what you are currently doing, how your business is impacted, what plans you have in place, etc.
      Some things to consider:
      Do you have a plan in place should you or one of your employees become ill? With school, event, and business closures, how will this affect your shop? Are you sending anything to your customers in terms of sharing your plans around keeping your customer and employees healthy and doing your part in your community? Many small and large businesses have been sending email communications to their customers. Are you marketing to your customers in terms of not delaying car repair, should there be a need to temporarily close? Are your parts suppliers sharing their plans, should the pandemic affect supply chains?  Are you stocking up on business and shop necessities? Please share your experience in this topic and stay healthy!
      In the media:
      The coronavirus and its growing tally of sick and dead victims around the world have been roiling financial markets, prompting countless hand-washing reminders and ruining more than a few vacations, and that’s before anyone knows exactly how widespread the effect will be on the automotive industry, including your local repair shop. Source
      “By mid-March, the shortage of supplies will be felt and members are projecting they’ll experience disruption through May or June,” even if operations in China soon get back to normal, said Stacey Miller, senior director of communications at the Auto Care Association, a trade group representing 150,000 auto aftermarket and service businesses. Source
       


       
    • By Joe Marconi
      Today is the first day of summer, and we are still dealing with the dreaded COVID-19.  However, there are positive indicators that business will be better than expected this summer.  People will be taking more road trips, will avoid airplanes, trains and Ubers and will take to the roads in record numbers.
      Gear up for a great summer and look for opportunity with each vehicle visit.  Perform those multipoints as if your business depends on it….why?....Because it does!
      We have a lot to be thankful for. Keep positive, be a leader and thrive!
       
    • By newport5
      Is your business down 40 or 50% like many on this forum?  If so, I have an idea to help a bit now, but especially in the future. And even help the impression of our industry.
       
      You probably have more time available to spend with your customers. It’s the perfect time to build or cement a great relationship, to create that illusive trust with your customer, that’s mentioned in just about every trade magazine, but they never tell you how. May I suggest “The How” that I’ve been using for years? This will be handy now and in the future when this is over.
       
      Learn more about your customers. Become “friends.”  Talk about everything: the lousy situation we’re in, ask about their job, their kids, their past vacation, their future vacations, their weekend jaunts. Exchange good news. Exchange not-so-good news. Listen. Talk about what comes up.
       
      I treat our customers like friends, like former high school friends. And these friends know we have to make a profit (EVERYBODY knows that!)
       
      For me, it’s a given that we’re going to take care of their car. If they tell me their dad just went into the hospital or nursing home, we’re done talking about their car.  I ask, “How’s dad?”
       
      But still do your (digital) inspections. And write down everything, even the stuff that can wait six to nine months. This may affect the service writer or shop’s approval percentage, but so what! Your percentage will be lower, but you will do more work on the car this way. (Notice that I didn’t say you would sell more work. I don’t “sell.”) No decision now on the future stuff, it can wait.
       
      If their car came in with a problem, this is what will fix it (there’s no selling: this is the solution). I point out the other thing that needs attention now. There will be some explanation, but no selling: it needs it. No decision for the customer, actually.  Their car needs it.
       
      Next I say, “Here are the things that can wait six to nine months, but I want you to be aware so there are fewer surprises.” No selling, no decisions on their part. Plus, I’m the trustworthy guy who’s telling them they don’t need everything now.
       
      “Now let’s come up with a plan for these other things I found about your car.” I’m explaining, not selling. “You can do these now or in two or three months.” NOBODY wants to come back in two or three months so they are leaning in that direction, but no pressure from you.  They will probably ask; “What would you do?” I say, “If you hate bringing your car in, do it now.” (this is where you would bring in a little value, benefits and safety) Again, not selling, suggesting; letting them make the decision.  Notice that the first two issues didn’t involve them making a dreaded decision:  It needs this, doesn’t need that.
       
      If your inspection has 5 things, they will do 2 to 4. If the inspection has 8 things, they will do 3 to 5 – with no selling. You are their friend, you are advising. List everything!
       
      Now think about that phone call. There is only a little selling value or benefits: maybe some safety. So there’s no pressure on you, no bad news. You are the car detective, reading the cars clues and helping your friend thru this.
       
      When you take care of the customer in this fashion, you come from a place of trust, like taking care of a high school friend.
       
      You will be happier because that call back won’t be stressful, you will have more work, and they are more likely to refer your trustworthy, easy-to-work-with shop, which means even more work.


  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×
×
  • Create New...