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.
Gonzo

Should there be a standard Diagnostic charge

Recommended Posts

This is an article I wrote several years ago for a trade magazine.... I think it's still true today... Love to hear your comments.

 

Diagnostics fee or not

 

This has been an issue since day one. Should we charge to diagnose the car or should the estimate be free. Let’s define an estimate first.

 

What is an estimate?

An estimate is a list of all the parts and labor involved in making a repair. With the possibilities of adding supplements to the original estimate if other work is deemed necessary after the initial work has started.

Ok that’s an estimate, or is it…? Let’s try this again.

 

What is an estimate?

It’s a guess……. With the chance that I might get it right but more than likely the final bill will be different than what was original “estimated” at.

Hmm, the two definitions are different but at the same time mean the same thing… What about the diagnostic side? Ok, how about that… that diagnostic thing.

 

What is a diagnostic?

It is the process in which a technician is able to determine the cause or failure of a piece of equipment, vehicle, or appliance.

Did ya get that? … One more time …

 

What is a diagnostic?

It is the process used to determine the root cause of a given mechanical or electrical problem that has become an issue with a vehicle, appliance or piece of equipment.

Sounds the same doesn’t it…. hmm, maybe we are getting to the real issue… MONEY

 

The diagnostics may take some time, may even require a few sophisticated scanners, wiring diagrams, and tools. Time is money as we all know, of course, knowledge, expertise and experience is a commodity that should always be respected no matter what field you are in. A service charge for such “diagnostics” is essential in the continuing financial stability of a shop or for that matter… any service oriented business.

Once the diagnostics has been completed an “estimate” can then be given to the customer for their approval. This should also be noted that if a “diagnostics” is preformed and the problem turns out to be “intermittent” or none exciting a fee still applies. The time has already been spent to figure out that there was nothing wrong. That brings up another touchy issue. For some reason the customer feels cheated if you charge for nothing found… now wait a minute, how was it determined that nothing was wrong… ah…the diagnostics lead to that result. Then the problem isn’t the problem anymore, it’s the time spent looking for the problem that is the problem. To ease the customer’s woes you could always give them a time table for future re-evaluations. (30 days is a good round number) Note; It wouldn’t be the first time I have diagnosed a car for a customer only to find out that their complaint is from lack of understanding of their vehicle or dare I say… their just another fruit basket behind the wheel.

 

Now I’m not in favor of a free diagnostics (if you couldn’t tell already) and I’m not too fond of the free estimate. If there is any “man hours” that are part of any job a “man” wants paid. If that “man” is working on a commission basis, I can assure you that he is going to rush through the “estimate” in order to get to the real money end of the job.

However a diagnostic is a totally different thing, I don’t think I could have made a living without charging for the time it takes to figure out some of the strange pr oblems I’ve encountered over the years. Some things were easy to diagnose, some took hours. But I believe it’s the standardization of a diagnostic charge that would make things a lot easier for the customers to understand the complexities of today’s problem evaluations.

If a tech couldn’t figure out a problem in a reasonable length of time … say an hour… then it’s quite possible the shop is going to be losing money if they kept him on that job. The next best thing would be to move him off that job. Put another tech on who might be able to figure out the problem in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the shop is already behind the 8 ball, since the first tech didn’t get the job done, but in the long run… it will get done, there will be an estimate for the customer explaining the repairs needed.

 

I don’t know which is more of a problem, the shops out there not willing to charge for estimating… Oops I mean diagnostic time… or the customer who doesn’t feel that it’s a necessary part of the process. Then again, these are not yesterday’s cars.

It’s about time there were some standards that everyone in the industry had to go by, be it from the independent side or the dealer side. Regulation or self imposed limits as to how much can be charged across the board for various levels of diagnostics. Not to say diagnosing a bad ball joint is easier than a battery drain, no, not at all. Each field in the industry would have to come up with a balanced set of standards that those involved could agree was a fair price for that type of service. If all the independent shops charge the same fees in a demographic area it would lead to a more even playing field for the customer. Maybe, we should think about using a different term rather than “independent”… we can be independent in ownership, style, quality, etc… but put the customer’s concerns up front. If I wasn’t in the business and didn’t know where to take my car I would really would like to know that I’m getting quality work done at a fair price at any shop I went to. If there was a way to put an end to the “I can get it done cheaper down the street” escapades… my drive home would be a whole lot more pleasant than in the past. .

 

If that didn’t happen it then only comes down to a question of where to have the vehicle repaired at. Everyone has their favorite doctor, dentist, or restaurant. Which is probably based on location, atmosphere, or “ya just like that particular place”. Price is always an issue, and probably always will be. If you’re not getting the job done right at the shop of your choice… choose another one. How many times a day does your phone ring because you have some “price shopper” who is never coming to your shop because your price is higher than the last shop they called… even though they were referred by a friend to call you.

Maybe we should focus on better instructional classes, more information, and true manufacturer level scanners available to the independent side of the business. Sometimes too much effort is put on the “Be nice to the customer”, or the preverbal “Customer is always right” routine. The old saying; “If the customer knew what was wrong they would have fixed it themselves” still holds true today. But I’m talking about telling them what’s wrong with the vehicle, not how to fix it. With the advent of the computer age upon us the car has become a rolling updateable, flash reprogramming software jungle of information. The cost of these specialized scanners puts them out of the range of most consumers, and a lot of small shops, which, in some ways, also places the shade tree mechanic on the endangered species list.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the same line from a customer’s after I have diagnosed a problem. “Well, I could have done that myself, I would have looked there for the problem if I had the time, and I don’t know why you’re charging me for something so simple. You should give a break on the price because it was so simple. “Hey, I’m a regular customer I should be getting a discount.” My usual answer is… “So if you knew what was wrong, why did you bring it to me to figure it out?” And, I’m not sure that other professional people you deal with such as a doctor, dentist, or the grocer…etc… is going to give you a discount just because you shop with them on a regular basis.

Common sense, the largest lacking component in all of these situations… In my opinion, once common sense is removed from the conversation “stupid” takes its place. I wonder if I could estimate how many times this has happened… maybe so… but I better think about diagnosing it first…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   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.


  • Similar Topics

    • By Joe Marconi
      We all have those customers that focus on price alone. And we all struggle with our persistent attempts at converting them into believers. Believers of the concept that, while we cannot totally dismiss price, it’s the value of the product or service the customer needs to consider when making a purchase. What’s funny about these customers is that each visit tends to start with a complaint about price, even before the car is looked at. We recently had a situation that started off on the wrong foot, with price being the issue; but ended up a win for us, and for the customer.
      Charlie Challenge (not his real name) arrived at our shop and asked for an estimate on replacing the timing chain for his Nissan Altima. My service advisor responded with, “Mr. Challenge, that’s a big job.  How do you know your car needs a timing chain?” Charlie replied back, “Another shop checked it out and they told me it does. Can you please give me a price?” My advisor continued with, “Well, before we do anything, we need to perform a few tests to make sure you really do need a timing chain.” Charlie emphatically replied back, “And how much is that going to cost? All you guys want is my money! I asked for one thing; a price on a timing chain and you just want to make more money on something I already know I need!” 
      It took a lot of composure, but my advisor calmly stated all the reasons why testing is the best way to go, emphasizing the fact that if we replace the chain and it’s not the problem, the money spent would be wasted. Charlie shook his head, threw the keys on the counter and authorized the testing. 
      I’ve known Charlie for a long time. He’s not a bad guy. But price is always the topic of discussion. He has told me in the past that I should take a look at what other shops charge, and be more competitive with my prices. I have told Charlie that I don’t, and never will, price my services by what other shops are charging. I have also told him to look beyond price and look at the value you get. Besides, all the quality shops that I know are pretty much the same when it comes to pricing.  
      During the write-up process, Charlie revealed to my service advisor that the check engine light had been on, and that’s why he took his car to the other shop. The other shop replaced a valve timing solenoid, but that didn’t fix the problem. He was then told that the next step was to replace the chain. 
      Later that morning, the car was dispatched to a technician. A multipoint inspection was performed, along with all the tests related to the check engine light; which was a timing error.  After the MPI and the tests were completed, we found a few things wrong with Charlie’s car. His Altima needed an oil change service, a battery, rear brakes, an air filter, the cabin filter had a mouse nest in it and the car needed an intake timing control sensor, not a timing chain. This engine has two intake control solenoids. One was supposedly replaced by the other shop. So, did this car have two bad sensors? Or was the wrong sensor replaced by mistake? 
      When my service advisor called Charlie to tell him the good news, he was silent for a moment.  He was shocked that the car didn’t need a timing chain. He authorized the solenoid replacement, the oil change and replacing the mouse-infested cabin filter. He declined the other work.  
      I purposely did the follow-up call with Charlie a few days later.  He was happy to hear from me and told me that car hadn’t run this good in years. I had to needle him a bit, “So Charlie, are we really expensive? We saved you a ton of money by doing the tests first and not just replacing the chain.” He said, “Ok Joe, I get it, I really do this time.” 
      During our conversation, Charlie did confess that he didn’t go to another shop, but actually went to that all-knowing, all-powerful place on the internet known as Google. It was Charlie that replaced the solenoid, not realizing there were two, and not knowing how to properly test the system either.  
      When I asked Charlie why he didn’t let us replace the battery, air filter and the rear brakes, he replied, “Joe, come on, I can do that work myself, and besides, you guys are expensive.”
      Sometimes you win the battle, but it’s hard to win the war with some customers. 
       
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on October 1st, 2019


      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “The footsteps of the farmer are his best fertilizer.” In translation, this means that the closer you are to your crops and animals, the easier it is to observe and respond to their needs. Business owners, just as farmers, have a sixth sense about what’s happening within their company. And, for the most part, business owners are the driving force behind the success of their companies. And it’s not always because of any particular training. Many times, the mere fact that the buck stops with you gives you the mental fortitude to push forward and find solutions to daily problems. Your gut evolves into a very valuable management and survival tool. 
      The majority of business owners created their business with a dream and the passion to make a difference in their lives and in the automotive industry. They clearly understand the sacrifices that are needed to get a new business off the ground, and also the years of dedication it takes to reach a point where the business becomes financially stable. But, running a business takes its toll on even the toughest person, and time away from business becomes equally important. So, the question becomes, can you build your business to the point where your presence still remains when you’re away? 
      Before I go on, I want you to consider something—and that’s your future. I know that many of you have a young company and plan on working for decades to come. But life goes by quickly and it can also throw you a curveball. Please take my advice with this; if you’re a business owner and you are not planning for your future, you are making a big mistake. I know too many shop owners that were forced to walk away from their businesses after decades of work with nothing more than memories. Their dreams turned into nightmares due to lack of planning. Sit down and write out what your future looks like. You will probably need help with this, but you need to think about a continuity plan and an exit strategy.
      OK, I got that out of the way; now back to the article. Here’s the bottom line. Taking time off and having your business run smoothly without you there should be one of your key goals. But the truth is, many shop owners can’t let go. They find it hard to take any time off, let alone leaving their baby in the hands of a manager or another key person. They even feel guilty when they’re away. And there are others who realize that in order to have a fulfilling life, the only way to continue the business is to step aside and stay away.   
      I don’t know what type of person you are. But what I do know with certainty after nearly 40 years in business is that, for the sake of your health and for the well-being of your family, you need to create a business that allows you the freedom to take time off.  And that starts with hiring and keeping the right people; people that share your culture and work ethic. Free time away from the business also requires that you understand your numbers, can generate a consistent profit and establish strategies to continually grow the business.  
      Achieving your goal of taking more time off is more dependent on what you create than the actual work you do. Create a culture where people come to work because they want to. Create a management style that allows you to reach out to your employees and help them achieve the things they want out of life. Create a work environment where the people you employ feel they are part of a unified vision where everyone will enjoy the fruits of their labor. Lastly, create strong relationships with all your employees from the very first day they are hired. Building this culture will help to ensure that your employees will perform the same each day, whether you are there or not.   
      I know for many it will be hard to let go. After all, your business is your baby, right? You founded it; you worked hard for years and dedicated your life to it. But, every baby grows up and becomes an adult.  And adults should become self-sufficient. If you build the right team with the right culture, you will gain the confidence that the people you employ can do an amazing job in your absence. 
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on September 5th, 2019


      View full article
    • By JustTheBest
      USA Today article (Friday September 27, 2019 by Nathan Borney - USA Today) shows that “the average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads reached an all time high of 11.8 years in 2018.”

      The article goes on to claim... “By 2023, there will be about 84 million vehicles on the road that are at least 16 years old, reflecting a 240% increase from 35 million in 2002, according to IHS.”

      Are you getting your share?
      There’s only 90 days left in 2019 and the market is changing. Sorry, it HAS changed. Are you ready? Do you have your plans laid out for marketing your shop in 2020? 
      Auto Service Marketing - Fix Your Car Count FAST!
      Hope this helps!
      Matthew
      "The Car Count FIxer"
      P.S.: Join me on YouTube at Car Count Hackers! FREE Help to grow your Car Count, Income and Profit! 
      P.P.S.: Like and Follow Car Count Hackers on Facebook
      P.P.P.S.: Have you registered in my FREE Training? "How to Double Your Car Count in 89 Days"
    • By tco
      Accepting Credit Cards at 0% cost 
      Credit card fees for merchants have drastically gone up in recent years, especially for reward card purchases, making credit card fees one of businesses largest expenses.  Interchange fees for reward cards have gone up by 24% in a recent 4-year period. The highest reward card fees to a merchant are now around 3% of the transaction total (not including what the markup from whomever sold you their credit card processing).  Many people have probably seen Samuel L. Jackson TV commercials promoting Capital One’s Quick Silver credit card, paraquoting, “The Quick Silver credit card will give you 1.5% cash back on all of your purchases.” Who do you think is actually giving these customers 1.5% of their cash back on their credit card purchases?  You guessed it- you, the merchant.
      What’s a business owner to do?
      Do nothing Raise the products or services prices to account for higher credit card fees Offer a cash discount Don’t accept credit cards Or, provide your customer a choice when they pay with a card to pay a surcharge or not- 0% credit card costs to the merchant All of these options have their pluses and minuses, but with the ever higher and higher fees credit cards are charging to merchants, there are other methods where technology and consumer choice can help mitigate these fees.
      0% credit card cost is relatively new legal method of accepting card payments in the US.  The credit card companies fought to not allow consumers a choice to pay a surcharge with credit card or zero fees with a debit card.  The credit card companies make much less money with a debit card opposed to a credit card... This case went all the way to the US Supreme Court this decade.  The credit card companies lost and consumers being able to choose to pay a surcharge with a credit card or zero fees with a debit card is now legal in 45 states.  The remainder of the 5 states will likely be joining the other 45 states in the near future as there are still ongoing court proceedings.
      The US is now following the Australian model which has been allowing merchants to surcharge since 2003.  Currently, 42% of all merchants in Australia pass on a surcharge to customers who use a credit card.
      Here’s an option that you might not know about, until now:
      When your consumer decides to pay with a card, they have two options.  If they use a credit card, a small fee will be charged to their card. If they use a debit card, there will be no fee to the consumer.  Our software does all the work and explains to the customer of their choice prior to the charge being authorized.
      What exactly are the costs to the merchant and to the consumer?
      For credit cards: Merchant pays zero credit card fees, the consumer pays 3.5% of the transaction amount
      For debit cards:  Merchant pays 1% + $0.25/authorization, the consumer pays Zero fees
      Facts:
      A card swiper is not needed: credit card information can be typed in a phone, computer over the phone and in-person.  A 'brick' card swiper/dipper is available if needed.
      Works with online sales/invoices
      Simple application process, no upfront cost, no term contract, no cancellation fee and complies with all credit card rules and regulations
      If you auto batch by 8:00 PM EST, you get your money the next day
      Up-and-running within a week
       Benefits to the Merchant:
      Being fair to your consumer by offering them a choice to pay a fee or not, while eliminating your credit card fees, which can be up to 3% of your total credit card sales.
      Simple to use and all charges are viewable through real-time online portal.  
      Support: our team is there when you need us, but it truly is very straight forward.
      We realize this solution is not for everyone.  But, you now have the opportunity to no longer pay credit card fees, forever.  Reach out through ASO or here if you are interested in discussing further: https://www.lomasolutions.com/contact

      View full article
    • By Elite Worldwide Inc.
      Let’s say you’re looking to hire a superstar technician. You find one who has a proven track record of success, and put them through a well-constructed interview process. You decide that the person sitting in front of you is the perfect fit, and you make them a formal job offer in hopes that they will agree to join your team. They agree, and for the first time in a while you’re able to sleep throughout the night, because you know you’ve done your due diligence, and have finally found the top tech you’ve so desperately been needing.  All good so far, right?
      Your new hire comes to work on Monday, and you’re off to a great start. And then…. it happens. Within the first few weeks you start to get the sinking feeling that you may have hired the wrong person. There’s no question that they can fix cars the right way, and they do it quickly. They also show up every day on time, and they keep their workplace clean. The problem is, they don’t follow your procedures very well. Your key employees are telling you that the new guy seems to complain quite a bit about meaningless things, and they’re sad to report that he’s not very social either. 
      You start to hope that he’ll either “adjust or come around”, or that he’s just dealing with some personal issues that will soon pass. But after a month or two you reach the inevitable conclusion – this guy doesn’t like to follow rules, he has an attitude that doesn’t fit well in your shop, and your other employees are not very pleased that he’s working with you. After many sleepless nights, you decide to let him go, and you start the process all over again. 
      Unfortunately, many shop owners live in this world of high employee turnover, or end up telling themselves that they’d rather keep someone who’s not a good fit than run the risk of simply swapping out one bad employee for another. If this sounds all too familiar to you, then consider this:
      The trap most shop owners fall into is they hire people for what they know, and they end up firing them… for who they are.  
      To put it another way, shop owners often hire people for their skills, and they fire them for their behavior. So, the best-kept secret to hiring superstar techs and advisors?  It’s going a step beyond learning about their skills and experience, and learning more about who they are as a person. As someone who has grown some of the most successful shops in America, I’ve learned over the years that in order to hire top employees that my entire team will really enjoy working with, I have to pay very close attention to their personalities and behaviors during the interview process. I do that to this day with Elite, and it’s been one of the most important keys to my hiring success. However, I also know that my perception of someone’s personality will only take me so far, so I have every applicant complete a 45-minute online behavioral assessment before the first interview.  Here’s why.
      An assessment can tell us whether an applicant has the propensity to follow rules, how social they are, their level of optimism, how open they are to constructive feedback, and a whole lot more. Not only do these assessments help us conclude whether the applicant is even someone we should interview, but they also give us direction on where we should dig deeper, and the questions we should ask during the interviews. For example, if the assessment suggests they are not very social, then you know you need to ask questions about how they worked with others in the past so you can discover if there were personality conflicts, ego issues, etc. If the assessment suggests they have a propensity to ignore rules and procedures, you can ask them specific questions about how they inspected and repaired cars, and how they interacted with the advisors. 
      So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. First, think about the people you’ve fired. Hopefully it hasn’t been many, but I suspect you will discover that with rare exception, the reason you fired them had little to do with their skills, but was because of who they were as a person or how they behaved. Secondly, I’m going to ask that you accept the fact that there are many behaviors (and propensities) that will show up on behavioral assessments that you or I would never be able to detect during an interview, no matter how thorough we may be. And lastly, consider that if you do the math, hiring the wrong person is going to cost you at least $5,000.
      If you now agree that you need to dig deep and learn more about who the person really is before you hire them, you need to do what Fortune 500 companies and the top shop owners in America do, and have every applicant complete a behavioral assessment before the first interview. There are many companies that provide such services, such as Predictive Index, Berke, and Myers-Briggs, to name a few. We use Berke, and have been quite pleased. 
      If you do begin assessing the people you may hire, then you have my promise: You’ll have a much higher probability of hiring the techs and advisors that your other employees will enjoy working with, they’ll follow your rules, and you’ll be able to go to sleep at night knowing you have an incredible team…of superstars.

      “Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers the industry’s #1 peer group of 90 successful shop owners, training and coaching from top shop owners, service advisor training, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548."

      View full article


  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×
×
  • Create New...