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DAD'LL DO IT ------ When old Dad gets involved with the repair, the technician becomes the villiage idiot


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I got a call one afternoon from an old customer, friendly sort guy, easy going and quite a successful business man. He was out of country and his wife was having some car issues.


"Sure, just have her drop it off sometime today," I told him.


"Thanks, you know what to do. As long as it's not expensive just take care of it for me," he answered.


Later that day the car showed up at the shop. It wasn't that big of a deal to repair. It didn't need my years of experience to make the repair, but, my old friend and customer trusted that I would find the out what was wrong with it. His little wife filled me in on the problem at hand, "Oh, it shakes so badly, especially when I'm driving. I hope you can take care of it," she said.


What was causing the shaking wasn't a mind blowing weird issue, but a simple spark plug wire problem. One of the wires had gotten up against the hot exhaust and burnt in two. The only thing high tech about this job was putting the car on the scanner and clearing the "miss-fire" information from the computer's memory.


Everything was as straight forward as far as repairs go, no other problems, no other concerns. She came in later that day so happy to get her car back in tip top shape. Why, she even said it was nice to know someone like me to do this kind of work while her husband was away on business. (How nice of her)


What happened the next day was a total surprise to me. The phone rang, but not the usual ring. I'm no phone "whisperer", but I'm telling you, it had the kind of ring tone to it that reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon where the phone is jiggling back and forth, nearly flopping off the receiver rest. I was leaning over the counter when the front desk took the call.


Seemed like a straight forward, average, nothing to be concerned with phone call. I'm not involved in the conversation I just happened to be in the front office at the time. I probably should gather up my paper work and head back to the shop. But, why am I still standing here? What is compelling me to hold fast to this very spot waiting for this phone call to end? Experience I guess… I knew something was up. The one sided conversation that I could make out wasn't sounding like a good way to start out the day.


Oh no, it's her…the wife with the husband out of town from the day before. Oh boy, here we go… "You over charged me, I feel cheated, I didn't give you approval to do the work, and you should have called me before doing any of it. I'll have you know my father could have done the same repair for next to nothing," she said.


Normally I would get pre-approval but the husband and I have been working together for years and if it was something major I would have called him… but come on, it was a set of spark plug wires… not rocket science, and the approval was already given by the out of town hubbie.


How did I go from the savior of the family truckster, to Satan's second born all in one day? Oh, I got it now, I should have known. Husband is out of town and the next most likely "man" in her life is… Dad. It's the old "Dad'll Do It" routine; as soon as old dad knows what's wrong … He becomes the supreme expert on auto repair and I become the village idiot.


It stands to reason; as a professional "DAD" he has more knowledge and skill than my measly, worthless, years of experience, and technical background in the field of auto repair. Where was good old dad the day before? Or, did dad just receive this wisdom of auto repair overnight? Well, of course he did… as soon as she told him what I wrote down on the invoice as far as the diagnosis and the repair... what a genius dad is, he's got it all figured out… that's how.


The only thing left to do is call the repair shop and start chewing me out for doing the job her husband wanted me to "take care of." This "20/20 hind sight" is no reason for a person to fly off the handle based on "dad's" evaluation. Stop and think for second… as a professional repair shop (Or any profitable venture) we charge the customer for services rendered, and of course, good old dad will do it cheaper…. Would you expect anything less from your dad?


My question is; why didn't the husband just simply call dad? Maybe the husband wasn't sure that "dad" could take care of the problem. Maybe husband and dad don't get along.


It could be, that dad is an ace mechanic and could have solved the problem with no trouble at all. Why "Old Dad" may have a work shop in the back of the garage, maybe in an out of the way place where he takes apart old TV sets and builds his own automotive diagnostic machine out of the used parts. Why it could have saved me --- --- "minutes"… … … in diagnostic time. What was I thinking? I need to find this guy… He could be the asset my shop has been needing for years!


Then again, he could just be a dad looking out for his little girl.


Decision making on service work after the fact is never going to make my life any easier. Whether it's the fact the husband may not have told wife exactly how things were going to be handled, or old dad is proving to his daughter he still has what it takes to keep the car on the road. I'm still going to end up being the village idiot over the whole thing.


Maybe next time she needs something done she should just call good old Dad first… why not… … we all know… … … "Dad'll Do it."




Coming up with a new story each week can be quite a challenge. I keep trying, some are better than others, but, I always post them here first. You guys and gals help make the decision of which ones go to the editors and actually get published. Your comments help a lot. Keep them coming. Gonzo

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A doctor explains his billing to you (Ok, the front office does) you are sitting there in pain... and you say "YES" The car can't show pain (Just wait they'll figure a way for that too) So customers don't make the connection between service work ,dollars and maintenance. Beats me why... same old thing day in and day out.


I told a customer the other day, "You put a band-aid on a cut, you comb your hair and brush your teeth. That's ALL mainentance, your car deserves the same treatment... maintenance can prevent failures just like brushing your teeth keeps your teeth healthy." I might as well have been talking to the glove box.





It is simply amazing how your stories can apply to each shop around the nation. I have been down that road too many times to remember.


I once lost a customer over charging a diag charge for finding a faulty set of wires. He was handy and did a lot of work himself. He came in one day saying his car was running rough and feels like the plug wires need replacement. I did my anaylsis, confirmed the faulty wire set and installed a new set. The wires were under a warranty,(he had bought the wires from a local parts house and installed them himself) so the only charge was the analysis. He went crazy! He said, " I TOLD YOU it was the wires, why do you need to charge me"?


In his mind I should have not charged him anything.


Can you imagine going to your doctor because you think you have the flu, and after he confirms it you tell the doctor; " It was the flu, DON'T charge me"

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      A recent study, done by Harvard Business School, concluded that the real problem with attracting and retaining employees has more to do with the workplace environment, not pay or benefits. While the study did find that an adequate pay plan and offering an attractive benefits package did help with recruiting and retention, it’s not enough to satisfy the needs of employees, especially those of front-line workers.
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