Quantcast
Jump to content


Growing Alligator Skin


Gonzo

Recommended Posts

Growing Alligator skin

 

If there is one thing I find hard to deal with in this topsy turvy world of the auto repair business is the way some people will react when they are at the repair shop. It's the way they conduct their selves at the shop when it comes time to get their car repaired.

 

Over the years I've been praised, and degraded. I've been called a saint and I've been called the devil (or worse). I've heard the shouting and the stuff I probably wasn't suppose to hear (walls don't always block sound you know). After awhile you've heard it all before, and the attitudes that you see at the front desk become a part of the daily grind. Coping with all this is what I call; "growing alligator skin". I try not to take things so personal, I'll let the alligator skin handle it, and then take off my protective coat before I get back home to the wife and kids.

 

What gives with the need for such a thing as "alligator skin"? I believe there a several factors inherent to the automotive industry that brings on this crocodile coat of protection.

 

Mistrust of the automotive repair world in general is what I believe is the number one factor. But what brings on that mistrust? … Is it the incompetent mechanic? I doubt that is always the case. Is it the money out of their pockets which they were not expecting when they drove down the road to the repair shop? I believe it's more in the hands of the unknowing consumer who reads and watches to many evening news reports on the unscrupulous business practices of the few out there that really are rip offs and not the normal operations of countless decent shops in this country.

 

If you tie that into the other part of the equation it starts to make some sense. What is that other part? … The customer, their car, and what they do or don't do with their family transportation.

 

As I try to tell my customers; "Maintenance on a new car doesn't do much to the value of the car or its current condition. It's when it's older and the miles are creeping up that all the previous maintenance pays off". The inevitable degrading condition of the car doesn't happen all at once, it takes time and miles for that to happen. And, sometimes some old failures will cause new failures to occur.

 

"General Maintenance" isn't a guy in the Army reserves… it's something we all need to do. But it is almost always overlooked. And a lot of times we will avoid or put it off, till it's too late. That's when the raised voices or mistrust starts at the service counter and that alligator skin becomes a necessity again.

 

Of course, there are always those TV scammers that will try to tell you they have the latest greatest product to aide in the diagnosing of your vehicle. And let's not forget about the internet and the "wonderful" sources of information out there that the customer will no doubt inform you about when they show up with a complaint.

 

I'm sure there are doctors, lawyers, and many other professional trades that know who's the best and the worst in their field. We sometimes here about those on the evening news, just not as often as the car repair business seems to be focused on. But cars are needed by everyone, no matter what the condition. Think about it, you may not need a lawyer tomorrow morning to get to work, but I'll bet you need your car.

 

Educating the customer should start from the time they sign on the dotted line and purchase their vehicle. No recourse is given to educate the new owner on what needs to be done in the future with their new found horsepower. It's up to the owner to deal with the maintenance issues and any repairs that come up. I personally have never bought a car and had the salesman walk over to me and mention… "Now you know, you'll need to set some money aside for general maintenance and the usual break downs." But without the needed "know-how" the car is left to its own demise and the maintenance is left for another day. So, once you add up all these factors there is only one thing that is going to happen at the repair shop….a disgruntled owner with an issue about their car.

 

Now we are back to the original problem, how do you deal with all of this? Start with a bit of Alligator skin, be prepared for the customer to tell you their life story about their car. They're going to tell you what they think no matter what you say or do. Let them get it out and keep your alligator skin intact. Stay calm, but professional.

 

Most of the time, if you explain the diagnostic procedures and the results of the repair in terms that they can understand. Things will go a lot smoother. Sometimes I might have to go thru it a few times but it's worth the effort.

 

So the key to this whole ordeal is to do a good job, be prepared to back up what you do with an explanation that can be understand by the typical driver. As long as you do that you can keep your wits about you and you won't lose too much skin for your efforts. But keep in mind; it can be a little rough around the water's edge. You may have to stand your ground and make your point known. Keep it as calm as possible and explain as best as possible.

 

These issues usually don't apply to the person who keeps up with their maintenance schedules or comes in on a regular basis. They understand the need and respect the work you do. It's the ones that only show up when their car has reached the water's edge and can't go an inch further without falling into the crocodile infested water. They will stammer around trying to find a way to get their car repaired without stepping off into the deep end and risk losing money, time, and their temper. We've all been there… and we can all understand the problems involved.

 

Let's not forget….. Explaining things can only go so far. You don't want to have to resort to their tactics… that's not good business. But, remember one thing, the customer is still dealing with an alligator… and they can bite back if they're not careful.

Edited by Gonzo
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Flash Sale + Social Proof


Flash Sale + Social Proof


Flash Sale + Social Proof

Gonzo, words of wisdom. Just this morning I had a retiree drop off his 05 Chrysler minivan for power sliding door diagnosis. Had it another shop intown for a harness replacement on the right side and now the left side wont close fully. The "other" guy refered him to me because they know I have the computers and the Chrysler backround. I wrote him up and explained to him we charge $$ an hour for computor work. I instantly went from being an Expert to a crook. I showed him the tools we would be using and explained to him the reason that shop xx sent him was because they did/had not invested in the tools or training to fulley diag this problem. And that is why they only charge $ and we charge $$. Dont make no diff. He only has 60 to spend till the next SS check comes in and he wants his door fixed. Ok I am broke and need to buy gas to get home tonite soooo, I agreed to look at it for his price. As in my other post this is where we are in this area. But hey its work for today.

 

Good points Jeff... I'm glad my little stories help bridge the gap between gas money and closing the shop... keep your chin, but keep your head down.. dodge those bullets... Oh I guess I shouldn't use the term "Dodge" LOL... glad ya like the article. Gonz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once again Gonzo, valuable words of wisdom. Consumer education, while needed, takes a lot of time and effort. Some people can’t get beyond the price. I have never met a person who has told me, “No problem, go ahead with that 4 wheel brake job, I budget money every week for car repairs.”

 

People would easily spend a few hundred bucks at the mall, but hesitate for set of quality wipers. Staying calm is another issue. If a person truly can’t afford a repair, just tell me…I will work with that customer. But it’s hard to tell the difference. If a person wants it cheaper because it just doesn’t want to pay the price, then we have an issue. Either we are not showing the customer the value of our service or the customer truly does not want to let go of his money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once again Gonzo, valuable words of wisdom. Consumer education, while needed, takes a lot of time and effort. Some people can't get beyond the price. I have never met a person who has told me, "No problem, go ahead with that 4 wheel brake job, I budget money every week for car repairs."

 

People would easily spend a few hundred bucks at the mall, but hesitate for set of quality wipers. Staying calm is another issue. If a person truly can't afford a repair, just tell me…I will work with that customer. But it's hard to tell the difference. If a person wants it cheaper because it just doesn't want to pay the price, then we have an issue. Either we are not showing the customer the value of our service or the customer truly does not want to let go of his money.

 

 

There ya go again Joe... ya see right thru my little stories to the real issues. It's still that customer and his wallet that comes into play.

You know I probably lose 2 or 3 good jobs a week do to prices... because either the other guy is far cheaper or they just haven't got that kind of cash in their budget. I wonder sometimes how these cheap secondary parts stores stay in business when I have a customer come in and tell me they just exchange a starter or alternator for the 5 or 6th time... they can't figure out whats wrong but now they are convinced it's something other than the quality of the part that is wrong with the car. But, you know, it's a cheap part.. it wasn't made to last.. it was made to sell. AND sell they do.... so, until the consumer teaches themselves the difference between quality and price they will always be searching for the cheaper alternative. That's where the alligator skin comes in handy... listening to them tell me how they can get the same part cheaper, and those "cheap" parts are as good as my high quality part.... you can guess the rest of the conversation...

Go figure....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There ya go again Joe... ya see right thru my little stories to the real issues. It's still that customer and his wallet that comes into play.

You know I probably lose 2 or 3 good jobs a week do to prices... because either the other guy is far cheaper or they just haven't got that kind of cash in their budget. I wonder sometimes how these cheap secondary parts stores stay in business when I have a customer come in and tell me they just exchange a starter or alternator for the 5 or 6th time... they can't figure out whats wrong but now they are convinced it's something other than the quality of the part that is wrong with the car. But, you know, it's a cheap part.. it wasn't made to last.. it was made to sell. AND sell they do.... so, until the consumer teaches themselves the difference between quality and price they will always be searching for the cheaper alternative. That's where the alligator skin comes in handy... listening to them tell me how they can get the same part cheaper, and those "cheap" parts are as good as my high quality part.... you can guess the rest of the conversation...

Go figure....

 

You make a valid point and I think most of us has grown that alligator skin you speak of. What bothers me is that the customer who wants the job done cheaper will find someone to do it. Now the problem is...the customer can't tell the difference...how in the world are we ever going to change that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You make a valid point and I think most of us has grown that alligator skin you speak of. What bothers me is that the customer who wants the job done cheaper will find someone to do it. Now the problem is...the customer can't tell the difference...how in the world are we ever going to change that?

 

 

Keep that thought... and watch for my next article from Brake and Front end... your comments would be perfect for my next story

 

Actually you might already have it.... page 168 of my book...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...
  • Similar Topics

    • By Joe Marconi
      From what I am hearing from my fellow shop owner friends, the shops in my area, Northeast (New York), auto repair shops are busy and steady. However, there is a feeling from many shop owners to be cautious about the future. 
      Things that give shop owners concern: Inflation, the cost of living affecting the consumer's ability to afford auto repairs, dissatisfaction with the current administration,  and possible recession. 
      Your thoughts? 
    • By carmcapriotto
      As one of the top 10 industries in America, we need to advocate consumer choice in a competitive market, and if we don’t do what is pro-consumer and pro-aftermarket, the dealers will get all the business. I’m with Bill Hanvey, CEO of the AutoCare Association, Paul McCarthy, CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), and Ryan and Andrea Goff, shop owners that went to Washington to speak to their representative and to show support for the Right To Repair initiative.  Have you signed the petition? Go to RepairAct.com so easy to tell your congressperson you support the Right to Repair.  Stay tuned for an important episode that affects ALL OF US.
      Bill Hanvey, President and CEO of the Auto Care Association. Find Bill’s other episodes HERE. Paul McCarthy, AASA President. Find Paul’s other episodes HERE. Ryan and Andrea Goff, Rogers Tire Pros and Auto Care Key Talking Points
      Massachusetts helped set the tone two years ago, but it is embroiled in a fight between the OEs and the voters and a judge who has yet to make a ruling. There are recent discussions that 75% to 25% of voters approved overwhelmingly “The right to repair is alluring in its simplicity. In theory, it seems obvious that if you do buy something, you own it, and you should have the freedom to do what you want with it,” said U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), ranking member of the subcommittee. “The right to repair, if properly designed, can create a world of consumer choice, competitive pricing, and potential cost savings. “However, when this issue is examined in full depth, it becomes substantially less black and white,” she said. “Today, many machines are essentially sophisticated supercomputers… they perform seemingly miraculous feats thanks to delicate and complex electronic components integrated with highly specialized, proprietary software. Even with all the possible tools and resources at one’s disposal, attempting to sell, fix, or modify products with electronic components could lead to disastrous results, such as product failure or, even worse, serious injury to the consumer. In addition, these alterations can put the privacy and security of the user at risk.” To industry: Do not abandon your interest in this initiative. Access to data is critical for the survival of our industry. This is anti-consumer because there isn’t enough bays or technicians in the dealer network to service the repair and maintenance of our car park. It is also pro-consumer as it creates competition. What can we do? Right to repair needs to be on 20 and networking group agendas. We must speak to our legislators If you own a shop, you must make an appointment with your local congressperson's office and see your congressperson in person. Don’t be nervous to share with your customers- we are at the tip of the iceberg By 2020- 4% had advanced connectivity that allowed for remote diagnostics. By 2025 almost every new vehicle will have that advanced connectivity Right to Repair Info Graphic download https://bit.ly/3BOotBI Right to Repair Media Kit for Graphics and postcards. https://bit.ly/3eZOi8Z  
      Connect with the Podcast
       
      Aftermarket Radio Network
      Subscribe on YouTube
      Visit us on the Web
      Follow on Facebook
      Become an Insider
      Buy me a coffee
      Important Books
      Check out today's partners: Shop-Ware: More Time. More Profit. Shop-Ware Shop Management getshopware.com       Delphi Technologies: Keeping current on the latest vehicle systems and how to repair them is a must for today’s technicians. DelphiAftermarket.com
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    • By carmcapriotto
      Guest Host and Shop Tour with Todd Cole, TC Auto Service, Corpus Christi, TX. Four years ago Todd left his medical sales job and became the new owner of TC Auto Service.
      Todd Cole, TC Auto Service, Corpus Christi, TX.
      Key Talking Points
      Was in medical device sales but looking to make a change. His great grandfather, grandfather, and father were all in the automotive business Was a customer of the business and bought the business from the owner (who was 80 years old) Senior tech has been with the business for over 30 years- loves to teach and help others, maintains quality. He is a mentor for apprentices.  ‘Running out of concrete' as they started growing- purchased satellite location  7 lifts total Look at productivity by technician weekly- scoreboard with names listed, fun competition Drive through lanes with vehicles- 3 lanes  
      Connect with the Podcast:
      Aftermarket Radio Network
       
      Subscribe on YouTube
      Visit us on the Web
      Follow on Facebook
      Become an Insider
      Buy me a coffee
      Important Books
      Check out today's partner:
      Dorman gives people greater freedom to fix vehicles by constantly developing new repair solutions that put owners and technicians first. Take the Dorman Virtual Tour at www.DormanProducts.com/Tour
       

      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    • By Joe Marconi
      There seem to be mixed opinions on what Business System is the best. And also, not all business systems fit a particular repair shop model.
      There are a lot of new players in the past few years: Auto Leap, Protractor, Teckmetrics, Shop Boss, Shop Monkey, and more.
      Are you happy with your system?  What features are important to you? 
    • Advertise your services or products to passers-by attracting them towards your business
    • By Joe Marconi
      Here is an excerpt from a report from Lang Marketing:  Read and enjoy! 
      Six Major Takeaways
      Lang Marketing expects that new car and light truck volume will remain in low gear from 2020 through 2023 compared to the previous four years (2016 through 2019).  Lower new vehicle annual volume will trigger five significant aftermarket changes that will boost the volume of aftermarket products from 2022 through 2030. By increasing used vehicle prices and shifting miles to older vehicles, lower new vehicle sales will boost aftermarket product volume through 2030. An increase in the average age of vehicles and more older vehicles on the road, both resulting from lower new vehicle sales, will provide a tailwind for aftermarket product growth. Although there will be fewer vehicles in the repair-age sweet-spot between 2026 and 2030, this will create a mileage shift to older vehicles and an increase in the upper age boundary of the repair-age sweet-spot, which will be positive for aftermarket product growth Lower new vehicle sales will slow the growth of Electric Vehicles on the road, increasing the use of ICE vehicles and pumping up their aftermarket product volume. Source: 
      Lang Marketing Resources, Automotive Aftermarket Consulting, Research and Analysis  
       


  • Our Sponsors










×
×
  • Create New...