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How bout' Friday? --- Got common sense?

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How Bout' Friday?


A rather slow week at the shop turned into a very interesting one. With the economy slowing things down to a crawl, it's understandable that people can't afford to have their cars in for repair like they should, and regular maintenance is usually not that high on the list of things to be concerned about.


Of course, the customer can always have an issue with the cost. Sometimes, it's not the cost of the repair, sometimes it's the cost of dealing with that certain type of person. Either my sanity or my patience is going to be tested.


Financial worries aside, I find common sense is the one thing that tends to get thrown out the window with some regularity when it comes to mixing the customer and the car together. Let's see what you think of this latest ditch-dodger of the public highways.


This dude has raised the bar of stupidity to a level that I don't think anyone else will ever obtain. I'm pretty sure this gear grinder didn't have all 4 tires on the ground.


A Dodge Intrepid was on the "hook" apparently, a "no-start" condition. It was supposed to be at the shop that afternoon, but that's not quite how it happened, more like 3 days later. No phone call from the owner in the past 3 days to let me know what the delay was or a heads-up that it was getting towed in today.


The battery was totally shot. If you've ever changed the battery on one of these you know what I mean when I say it's a pain. (I think the engineers should explain this to the customers when it's time to replace the battery instead of me having to telling them.) This isn't an "in/out" job… oh no, not these cars… a couple of panels and some tight places to get your hands into. Wonderful fun, just love this job. Ya think they could design a better place to put the battery. Why did they put it there? I can hear the engineers talking:


"Oh, let's make it harder to change than it needs to be, you know those batteries never need regular service. Why it hardly ever needs replaced so let's put it in a cavity in front of the tire with a little plastic panel where all the road salts and dirt can't effect it at all."


The big problem might have been the battery replacement, but then again, it's not. It's the owner. With the tow charge, battery install, and the cost of the battery all added up, the only thing left to do was to get this road-jockey back in the saddle. I gave him a call he answered.


"I'll get back to you."


"I'll get back to you…" went on for another week of sitting in the shop. Now, I normally don't keep cars this long without getting riled up over the space it takes up in the shop. I tried to call but he would never answer. I didn't want to leave it outside, and it never failed, the shop was getting busy and the old Dodge would end up in the way more times than not. Then, another week went by, and so far the owner hadn't called back or returned any messages I left.


Finally, on a Monday, 2 weeks after the car had been brought in, the customer finally called.


"How much was the bill?"


I gave him the total once more, and a complete run down on the test results. He seemed to understand, and I wasn't expecting any problems from here on out. I should have known better than that, this isn't the first time I've been stuck with a car in the shop.


"Can you have it done today?" he asks.


"Sure can," I told him, (Of course it was already done, how else could I have had moved the car for the past two weeks.)


"I take it you'll be picking it up today? It's been here for 2 weeks already you know."


"OK, well… how about Wednesday? Can you have it done then?"


Now how did Wednesday enter into the conversation, must be an issue of when he can get a ride, or maybe his financial situation is in jeopardy till Wednesday.


"It's been here for 2 weeks, which should have been plenty of time for you to pick it up or decide on what to do. You never returned any of my calls, and I don't have room to just keep moving your car around and around. Besides the fact I kept it inside at night for security purposes."


"Do you charge for storage?" he asked.


"Yes I do, but if you make an effort to pick it up today I'll wave the storage fees."


"OK, so you can have it done by today, right, and if I pick it up today you won't add any storage charges?"


"If you pick it up today, I don't see a problem with that. I need the room in the shop." I told him.


This is great, I'm thinking to myself: "I'm going to finally get this thing out of here."


Then he blurts out the most unusual request I've ever heard:


"OK, How about Friday?"


How in the world did we go from Wednesday to Friday all on a Monday? Has this curb-hugger just had some drastic change of events again!


"Uh Sir, that would be even more additional storage charges." I told him.


"What's the storage charges for?" with a questioning tone, as if he never heard a thing we were talking about earlier.


Did this guy really pass a driving test, or did he just find his license at the bottom of a box of breakfast cereal? I can't tell if this guy is joking or if his gears are stripped.


I'm pretty sure this guy couldn't take a loan out to pay attention. I'll bet when his driving instructor said, "Back up." he moved the seat. The way he answered questions with questions just didn't make any sense.


I'm not sure what's going on, but before we finished our conversation on the phone I was left with the impression he was going to be picking it up today to avoid any storage charges.


Now wouldn't ya know it? After the car sat in the shop for two weeks, and without a word from this ditch-dodger, he shows up at the shop 30 minutes after I hung up the phone.


I'd like to think that the rest of this guy's life is going to be better than this. After personally meeting this dip-stick it wasn't hard to tell he didn't have things hitting on all cylinders. What a goober… I'm just glad he's out of my shop and back out there in the world.


You know, if a psychologist ever wanted to do a case study on the real world, come on down to the shop.


Stick around for awhile, and you'll see all you'll ever need to see.

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As with most of my stories... YES it is the same where ever you go... I just bring it to light by writing about it in my column. One of these days I'll tell the story of "Tito" the forgetful customer --- (His car sat outside for over a year before he finally came to get it) I like yours about "what time to ya close" good one Joe.


Great comments guys... always good to know I'm not the only one. LOL Gonzo



Gonzo, I can top that. We had a Subaru towed in last November, new customer with a no-start. We diagosed the car and repair it the same day.


Every day the the customer would call and asked, What time do you close?" Well, after six weeks of this he finally arrived at the shop, gave us half the money for the repair and did not pick up the car for another 3 weeks!


Is it that bad out there?

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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