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Oxygen Sensors: $17.99, Brake Rotors: $14.99

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you could go to the grand opening, grab a bunch of food and and while eating it, hand out business cards to people and tell them when they buy the part the scanner says is bad and it doesnt fix it - or they buy the cheap rotors that are warped out of the box, or the o2 sensors that dont cycle, to call you to get it done right. :D


I hate when customers compare our parts prices to the cheap parts stores - all i say is "did you ever hear the saying you get what you pay for" ...even worse - " the parts store scanned it and said i just need an _insert any part here_


It got to the point where i would just put the part on and put the car back outside - whether it fixed it or not - when the customer came back in (after paying the bill) because the problem was still there i would politely ask them if they were ready to pay for a correct diagnosis yet, or if they wanted to take it back to the parts store and have them scan it again, or maybe since it didn't fix it they could get their money back for the free scan. it all depends on how the customer treats me in the beginning during write up. this is exactly why i gave up working on vehicles for the general public.


Does anyone know - if a parts store scans your car and says you need "x".. do they let you return it if it doesn't fix it?

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I understand that I should not burn my bridges, but in a lot of ways I am old fashion. But business is business, I guess.


Maybe I will send one of my service advisors to the grand openning. For me, I just can't go.


I don't burn bridges behind me I tend to leave a nuclear waste land behind. On the other hand I have discovered over the years that careful cultivation of the crap can sometimes yeild pretty good 'low hanging fruit'. By al means send over one of your service advisors if you don't want to go yourself and here is my reasoning. Get at least one person in your company to 'befriend' the manager and some of the employees. If at least one local garage is on speaking terms with them they will refer folks after they have dug themselves in over their heads. They will usually refer to the shop that gives them the least grief or at least talks to them.


Many years ago I owned a shop in a rural area and Wally-World was putting in a Super-Dooper-Center just down the street. Every shop in the area was bitching up a storm because they were going to have to lower their price for oil changes, etc. Not me, I raised my prices $5.00. Shops rarely make anything on oil changes unless you can sell brakes, belts, hoses, etc. I marketed my oil changes as a "VALUE ADDED SERVICE" offered ONLY to regular customers.


One day a guy came in and wanted to know if I could do some repairs on his mini-van. I looked it over, gave him the prices for repairs, and he decided that was fair enough and said he'd call his wife to come get him once he and I discussed something important. "Sure" I said thinking he was going to try to beat me down on the price. Instead he handed me his business card and it turns out he was the new manager of the Super-Dooper-Center. He asked if where he worked made any difference and I assured him it made no difference to me since I was in the business of repairing cars not judging people.


He asked my opinion of the store going in and I said it made no diffenence to me since we were after different segments of the market. He asked about their cheap oil changes and I explained how it inspired me to raise my price instead of trying to compete with Sam. Same for front end alignments, A/C service, and such. I asked him how much they were going to charge for A/C service and it was way below my price. Then I asked him what they were going to do when a car wouldn't hold vacuum. He said they would have to turn down the service. Where ya gonna send them? He didn't know and allowed as how they would probably leave that up to the customer. Front end work? Same answer. Stipped oil drain plugs, jammed uip filters, etc? Same answer.


My response if "No, you ain't, you are gonna send them here." He looked at me strangely and I handing him a handful of my business cards. I told him their 'service' wasn't worth a damn if all they offered was 'cheap'. If you don't offer a solution to the problem then you have no business being in business.


What about when your service manager or one of the oil change guys has a problem they can't solve? He looked at me and asked, "They can call you and ask?" I nodded. His business was going to increase traffic past the front of my shop considerably and when they encountered problems that were beyond their scope they need to be able to offer solutions. It should be a win-win situation for everybody.


Once they opened up the store he stopped in and introduced the service manager of their automotive department. A few days after that I went by and visited for a few minutes. Needless to say I had referrals left and right from them and especially for A/C and front ends. They hired me to come down and teach their crew how to set up and operate the A/C equipment, how to properly service the A/C system, how to correctly inspect a car while it was getting an oil change, and all sorts of stuff. Who do you think those guys sent their customers to?


Where did they send cars when they couldn't get a filter off? Come to think of it the guys that worked in the automotive department became some of my most loyal customers. Not only did they refer customers but they would tell them that is where they have their own cars repaired.


Yeah, the cutthroats suck, whether it is a parts store or a bottom feeder shop. On the other hand you can sometimes cultivate the situation and turn in around to your benifit.


Just my dimes worth,



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  • 1 year later...

Oxygen Sensors: $17.99, Brake Rotors $14.99


Hold on there! I am not selling parts. Please read on….


There is a well know parts company (I will not mention their name: but it’s not AutoZone, O Reillys, Sears, NAPA or Pep Boys) opening up just around the corner from me and is sending out consumer flyers with dirt-cheap parts, most are common everyday parts: Axles, O2 sensors, brake rotors, alternators, etc. They offer free installation on batteries and even sell scan tools so the public can check out their car, buy the part and then come to US to install it.


That’s why I deal with CARQUEST. They have their over the counter trade, but they would never think about undercutting the repair shop business.


The area rep for this new parts store came to me an invited my staff and myself to their grand opening. I laughed and walked away.


Was I wrong not to accept his invitation? How would you react?


Ok, i should have found a better topic for my first post, but oh well


I am pretty sure you are talking about an Advance Auto Parts opening in your area, I have worked for them for 3 years.



$17.99 o2, we all know this is the 1 wire gm.

$14.99 rotor is for a mid 90s suzuki i have never heard of


they put that price because people are stupid and don not read where it says STARTING AT*, there for they walk in expecting a 15 dollar rotor for a car that uses $100 rotors


By a store selling code readers to the public it is not undercutting the shops very much. Generally the customers who walk in your shops door, do NOT walk into mine.(though i have seen many customers that should walk into your shop, changing a o2 is not going to fix a cat efficiency code, or a lean code, or a rich code)


if i were you i would have seen what they had to offer for me, what stocking programs do they have that carquest does not. how does there pricing work, will it be better for me. even if you didnt use them for a main supplier, when you need that part that was boxed wrong elsewhere, or out of stock, they are a phone call away. and most of the time when "Joe i use AZ most of the" time calls, we try like hell to win him over. and the parts are there in no time


we offer free battery install because it is a huge money maker, and it offers the customer the chance to make sure there battery is bad before buying one. (when the alternator is bad on a PITA car,i cant tell the customer to call me later and i will do it, i think of a shop in town that i would trust and has a good rate, i send them there. this could have been your shop but you laughed us off....)


The store that i work in, has more parts in stock than the 4 stores in town, we have a large commercial customer base



if any of this comes off as A**hole ish, then i didnt mean for it to sound that way

Edited by FxsX24
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I like the steak analogy... :lol:


I think that when it comes to retailers like Autozone and Advance, their business models are just more retail oriented than wholesale/commercial. In some markets they try to grow their comercial business but in most cases never fully succeed because of the push of lower cost/inferior product, lack of product knowledge by their staff, higher focus on retail, etc. They know this and it is why a company like Advance has Autopart International, who on the other hand does well in wholesale/commercial like your Napas, Carquests, and other wholesale parts jobbers..etc. You usually get knowledge and more focus towards the wholesale/independent shop.


The other important factor to remember about retailers like Advance or Autozone, they just will never understand your business like you need them to. They don't have the warranties or programs available for independent repair shops. They are retailers who have a business models built for the "DIY" market.


I think the easiest way to see it is ...


Autozone & Advance sell retail and dabble in wholesale.

Napa, Carquest, other parts jobbers sell wholesale and dabble in retail.


If you want to learn more about the major auto part companies, here you go...It's good to know about the company(s) you are buying from...



Advance Auto Parts



O'Reilly Auto Parts

Checker Auto Parts

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You are correct in saying napa and carquest are more wholesale than retail

i cannot speak for AZ, but at my store we have 2 people for commercial and three drivers. we generally do a 50/50 ratio in sales a day. we are constantly checking up on out commercial customers, and doing what we can to improve there view of us. however the aap on the other side of town is 90% retail and 10% commercial. they have no drivers and no comm person.


i have seen a few shops charge two rates, one if you bring the part in, and another if you drive in and say "its broken, fix it". this does help you recover your losses from the alternator you didnt sell, but they brought to you. and generally the custoimer understands this.


you also mentioned pushing low quality parts. i cant speak for everyone out there. but i push the better stuff as much as i can. i hate seeing a customer come in 13 months later with a broken balljoint because they bought the cheap one with a 12mo warranty. spend twice as much and get the good one with the lifetime. same with brakes, i try to sell them our gold pads, which are OE replacement.


the warranty issues i can totally agree with you on, out top level bearings had a 1 year warranty on them till recently. which was horrible since napa had a lifetime. we have changed that to a 3 year. which is not as good, but better than 1 year.


we do offer labor reinburrsement on warranty work.

Edited by FxsX24
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Xrac, that is excellent for us :) I hear people almost daily complain that they won't work on their cars anymore since everything went computers. LOL I tell them I am glad cars went to computers. Gives me something to do.



it is great for the people who charge 50-80/hr. but really sucks for the people who get paid 8-12/hr

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well on the other side of the coin, when i tell someone the whole job with parts is 400. it seems like alot, but it really isint. escpcally when half of that is parts.


even if the job took 2 hours, people dont realize even if it was "easy" to do it, it is not the labor they are paying for, but knowing how to do the job that it where the money is

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What a business charges per hour has no bearing on why others make 8-12 dollars per hour. I do agree that it's really hard when you make only a little above min wage, especially if you have bills and a family.


The fact is that most shops charge a fair and honest price; some don't charge enough and are struggling. What happens too often is that the shop owners do not generate enough income to pay their techs a decent wage. Techs work hard and deserve a decent wage. That can only be accomplished by understanding what profits need to be earned when performing services and repairs.


Let's face it, the typical auto shop owner is not a Wall Street Executive, not too many of us have a home in the Hamptons and get picked up in a limo each morning to take us for our mocha late and then drive us to the office. We are, however, among the hardest working group of people in the world.


I do appreciate your opinions, thanks for taking the time to post your point of view.


I think it’s human nature to look at the invoice and think the shop is making a fortune. When you consider the cost of the equipment, facility, utilities, insurance, salaries, training, fees, etc. it’s a different story. But the customer doesn’t see that part.


As for $17.99 oxygen sensors and $14.99 brake rotors, I don’t think they actually fit any of the cars driven in this country!

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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.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      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.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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