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The Confessions Of A ‘Plaid Suit’ Salesman

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Last week I sent out an email to my shop owner clients titled, “Zero Cost Advertising for Your Auto Repair Shop that Really Works” that was promoting my upcoming Auto Repair Event in Las Vegas. A few hours later I received an email from a past client that was obviously upset that the email didn’t contain all the nitty gritty details of what my new strategies were, as well as full instructions on how to put them to use.


He called me a ‘plaid suit salesman’ because my email got him so excited about the killer results that I got from testing my new strategies that would produce new customers in his shop without spending a dime on advertising, but then I made the dastardly sleazy switch – in order to get the strategies, it would cost him money to learn all the details on how to put them to work for his shop.


Apparently, unlike with his business, when he packages up his knowledge, expertise, and experience and then markets them to his clients, he’s allowed to get paid for performing them; I’m in an entirely different business. When I market my knowledge, expertise and experience, mine should be given away for free.


Does that sound right to you? Is it sleazy of me to expect to get paid for the services that I perform? If you think so, look in the mirror and ask yourself the very same thing. If the answer is yes, then adjust your business plan accordingly. Then whenever a customer is unwilling to spend any money to fix his car, just go ahead and fix it for him for free. Forget about all the money and time you’ve spent honing your skills for the past dozen years. Forget about the knowledge you’ve gained while being in the trenches running your business. Forget about the enormous risks you take every day as a business owner – because after all, since this guy doesn’t WANT to spend money on his car… he’s entitled to your services for free.


What a great business model, huh? You’ll get quite the reputation in your community, right? Sure the profits will be non-existent. Maybe you can make it up with more volume? :rolleyes:


Okay, okay, I know I’ve gone way over the top to show how ridiculous this guy was being. I’m sure you got my point a long time ago since I have no doubt that you’ve dealt with folks just like him and were left scratching your head while trying to figure out their logic. I hope you fired them too.


Since when is developing an excellent product or service, marketing it in a compelling way so that your prospects get excited about having it, and then expecting to to get paid for it, drum up images of a sleazy cigar-smoking overweight balding guy in a plaid suit? Sheesh!


Am I wrong, right, or somewhere in between. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Best, Ron Ipach, CinRon Marketing Group



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Ron, I really don't follow the issue. If you sent out an ad claiming one thing, as a call to action ad and the ad confused someone, maybe the guy is right. Maybe it was the wording of the ad???


What if I hung a banner outside my shop that stated: "Find of about our NEAR FREE auto service". Do you think customers would get upset when I begin to tell them all they need to do in order to reduce prices on vehicle maintenance is by spending money on systematic maintenance plan?


Do I understand this right? Maybe it's me.


When one of my customers gets upset with me, I DO look in the mirror first and make sure it was not me that caused the issue. To me, the customer "perception" is the only "reality" that matters. Right?



truth in advertising... or... advertising the truth

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It was strong on the 'free' because I'll be teaching shop owners at The Auto Repair Event how to advertise for free.


BTW, the plaid suit is the work attire. The leisure suit is for the evening attire. I suppose the plaid leisure suit is for when I need to go straight to the bar after work??? :D



The plaid is also exceptable at the golf course... LOL

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truth in advertising... or... advertising the truth


I agree Gonzo about advertising the truth. And I believe that is why my advertising has such a low response rate, I won't advertise anything but the truth and that isn't what the public responds to. I can also understand the guy's "Plaid Suit Salesman" complaint if Ron's pitch was like so many other's I've read. Truth be told I did not get his email and I have not read it, but I also have had experience with the "Free advertising" schtick. A lot of ideas but very little little that really woks, or is in fact free. For example, social network marketing. True the actual use of the social network is free, but what about the time spent to actually get it up and running? If you do it yourself, what about all the other work you didn't do, or hired someone else to do, or the exceedingly long hours you put in to do the "free" advertising and all of the other work you needed to get done? Someone somewhere paid the price for this "free advertising" content you developed. In this case and many other similar senarios Free was NOT FREE! But the so-called marketing/consulting/management experts ignore all of the inconvenient ancillary costs.


It's just like the real-estate ad stating "Cozy one bedroom one bath with open floor plan, spacious eat-in kitchen and great views from every room." When you look at it you find the place is a 12x12 all-in-one-room with a shower curtain drawn around the toilet for privacy and a window on each wall. The ad didn't lie, but sure made you think it was something it wasn't. That isn't advertising the truth, it's advertising deceit and maybe that's what the guy was really upset about.

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Why didn't you post this from the start? Without reading the pitch, we are all speculating without really knowing the facts. After reading it, I don't see an issue either. The "only" thing I can add it that many shop owners are bombarded daily with claims of solving all their problems from a multitude of companies, and many have been burnt. But, I really don’t see this here.



I agree 100% with everything you wrote. If the full text of the email had been posted initially, had we been educated we would have responded differently. The depressing thing is that for many of us, Vegas is out of reach. Either for a lack of $$$, a lack of time available away, or just a lack of interest in paying to go and get marketed to. Truly sad that there will be no recordings, and presumably no program after the SIN City orgyfest.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
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      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
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