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Selling Automotive Diagnostic Work


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Hey guys its been awhile since I posted I finally got my shop up and running,so I've been real busy learning the ins and outs.I need to get help with some ideals for selling diag/computer /ck engine lights.I know its not ideal work ,but hears the deal for some reason i.m getting a flood of "can you check my ck engine light?"now being new I don't like to turn away customers ,there all new customers and I have had alot of expeirence and luck fixing them knock on wood.Buy I'm not so good that it doesn't take awhile i try to be through so it takes awhile .I need a up front pay menu and stradagy alot of these car have multple code and multi problems the people arn,t getting them looked at right away.Somtimes I fix one system and let the costomer take it and a diffrent code comes back but now the fix is more obvious,those people didn,t get a another diag charge just the fix charge and they were ok w/ that.Is that Is anybody rnning into this and or have some Ideals I could incorperate?

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This is an interesting piece by Mitch Schneider on diagnostic charges:



That is a great artical with some new and reinforced ideals, think I'm almost there.But I need some more help selling it up front .It seems like poeple have a hard time paying for what they don't know,or they got burned before,seems they think most shops don't have the experience that it takes.I have experience and equiptment and Idenifix that seems to stream line diag time but still I know somtimes it can take a while to get into some weird problems.As a tech we always tryed to keep the diag open or first we need to fix this symtom/system first type approuch ,but dealing with costomers/money I'm not sure of the best way.My shop has a advance auto that checks obd11 codes free.Somtimes I think I should start with the 1.5-2.0 hrs to cover my time and somtimes I wonder if I should start with .5 hr to just look and let them know that I can get them a direction and hopfully sell the diag. now that I what the poss causes are and what I might be looking at as fars as tests.Any input guys

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Selling diagnostic time has become harder and harder. You have part companies offering free check engine light scans, which the public thinks is a diagnosis, dealership lowering their prices on diag work to get customers through the door and now you even have independent shops waving the analysis fee if they get the work.


The fact is that diagnostic work is becoming the trend for the future. No longer are we adjusting timing or carburetors. We need to have the equipment to test and analyze a complicated computer network and many times the fix is a program update. The diagnostic work and fix may take a few hours, and all of which the tech never got his hands dirty. Amazing times we live in.


And to keep pace with technology, we need to invest in training, tools, equipment; online information sources and we need to hire top techs to perform this work. All of which cost MONEY.


Some say, keep the diag charges low so you can get the gravy work. Gray work? Look at where this industry is going….more hi tech! If we concede on charging what we are worth we are giving up much needed dollars and jeopardizing our future.


Now, with that off my chest I must admit that due to conditions that are out of our control, I have “adjusted” my diagnostic charges. In the past all diag charges started at $189.00 across the board, no exceptions. That was the past.


Here is what we do now. I customer comes in for a check engine light with no obvious performance problems and wants to know how much it would be to check it out and repair. Well, we don’t even have a clue of what the problem is until we at least scan the code. So, we offer to scan the computer, obtain the code or codes, and explain what the code is and the tests necessary to determine the cause of the problem. We tell the customer upfront that only the scan is on us and you could be looking at anywhere from $89.00 to $189.00, depending on what the code is and how many codes are logged. We also tell the customer that only after the anyalysis is done can we give them a price on what the repair will cost. We started this approach Jan 2010 and so far it is working out great.


In the past when we would tell a customer that the fee for the diag was $189 before we even looked at the car. The customer would object and we were losing diag jobs; mostly because the customer sees no value at that point. BUT, the customer sees a lot of value to have his car scanned first, at no charge, and then have the scan data explained to him.


Do we stand of chance of people walking away after the scan is done? Yes. But so far we have been successful.


This diag policy does not apply to driveability problems, no start problems, stalling problems, missfires problems, loss of power, ABS, Air Bag, intermittent problems,etc. For those issues we have base anaylsis charges and sell the diag up front before we start.


My approach will no doubt raise some eyebrows with a few members as it has in the past, so let the discussions begin….

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There is not a doubt in my mind that we give way too much away. As an industry, we have never charged what we are truly worth. I don't think it will ever change. The motoring public does not know the difference between an $8.00 lube tech and a skilled technician.


One of my issues is when a shop DOES try to charge the real price for a job and that shop is considered overpriced. But, that shop did the math and knows the true cost of doing business.


We really need to change our mindset. We struggle too much as a group, and for the most part, too many shop owners are not being fairly compensated for the great job they do. And, as a result, they can't pay their techs what they are truly worth.

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First of all you have to believe in your techs and the value of a correct diagnosis. It also depends if it is your own customer or a new one. We tell them anybody can read a code, but not everybody can diagnosis what it means. If the customer has been to a parts house and has the code. We tell them this is a system code that has many tests underneath the code. I even draw a circle as the code and then a tree off of it with 4 branches. These are the tests then it should come down to a correct diagnosis. We have had people go to the parts house, they read the code and say it is an EGR Valve. The customer then buys the EGR and puts it in. Guess what it didn't fix it and then they have to come to us. We explain this is a system and we would have to diagnose.


We charge $49.99 for 1st step. This includes a test drive, a visual, pull codes, check TSB and any other computer program that might relate to his particular problem. We then, most of the time, have to go to our pin point test. This test is an additional $139.99. If it is a regular customer we quote immediately $49.99-$189.99. If a new customer, we only quote $49.99 and tell them it may have to have additional testing, but we will call them 1st for their ok.


You have to believe in your self and the value of this service or you CAN NOT sell diagnosis. It is all in how it is presented. We lose very few, because of the value presented.


Key point: believe in yourself and the value you are selling, great points!

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