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Let's Make A Deal ---- Make a deal, or deal with it


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LET'S MAKE A DEAL

You know everyone wants a deal, something cheaper, something "thrown in" to sweeten the pot. Money (as always) is always the driving force, and I don't think that will ever change. A deal is a deal, but if you can't make a deal… well, then, deal with it.

 

One bright morning, a mid-90's Subaru showed up at the shop on the back of a wrecker. It's one of my regular customer's young teenager's car. The phone rang, it was the dad, Oh, and did he have a story to tell… a real whopper of a story.

 

"My son told me he was driving along when the car bumped the curb and flattened two tires. I haven't seen the car, but my son said there wasn't any real damage. So, I don't think it should take you very long to get it back on the road. Do what you can, and call me with the estimate."

 

I only saw the driver's side of the car when the tow truck pulled up. The tow driver came in and tells me, "Wherever you put this, you won't be able to move it again. You'll have to drag it or put it on "dollies", it's pretty messed up. If I were you, I'd stick it directly on the lift."

 

Ok, ya got me, no real damage aye? But, the tow driver tells me differently… now I've got to go look for myself.

 

No real damage? Hmmm, let's see…the whole passenger side of the car looks like someone tried to peel the sheet metal off with a can opener. Underneath the car was even worse. The upper and lower passenger side control arms are bent. The wheel, spindle, and tire are sitting on the oil pan area. The sway bar looks like a pretzel, both rims on the passenger side are beyond reuse, the tires are torn apart and shards of rubber are peeling off of the steel belts, and the transmission has been ripped off its mounts.

 

Yea, you're right……he just bumped the curb……..yea sure he did. Looks more like he rode the edge of the curb like a bucking bronco for a long-long way. My guess is somebody was trying to drift around corners or slide it sideways with the emergency brake on, and probably took out every bus stop, park bench, and light pole for a block or two. Ok, the tow driver gets a "thumbs up" on this one; let's put it on the lift.

 

I told the customer what I had found and the estimate for the repair, and as always I let him know about any "hidden" problems that might be lurking under all this stuff. He was not as shocked as I thought he would be even after I gave him the price for all the work that needed done, but definitely concerned. He kept hinting around as to what I thought might have caused the problem.

 

From the conversation on the phone he was hoping I would say something like… mechanical failure, slick road conditions, defective part, or something like that. The farthest thing in his mind was that the kid might be the problem. I told him what I thought had happened, he didn't want to believe it, but he was going to check into to it. In the mean time, order the parts and start getting it ready to get back on the road.

 

Several days later all the parts showed up, and I could get a better idea of the damage with parts that weren't bent like a pretzel. It wasn't long before I found a few more flaws in the little "Scooby-do", nothing major but the kind of thing that should be replaced. The extra parts were just a few brackets that were bent, but I knew dad's pocket book was getting tight.

 

His main concern now was how much I was willing to chew off the original bill to help him out, and to my surprise he confirmed my suspicions as to what caused the accident. Oh yea, the kid was trying to drift the Subaru. (DAH! Now how do ya drift a front wheel drive car… ah, slide with the e-brake???)

 

Now I can do a lot of things, and lower repair costs in order to save the customer money is one of them. Money, or not, I think there is a lesson to be learned here. I thought it was appropriate to make a small request to good old dad. If he wanted a cut on the price of the job, then let's make a deal.

 

"You bring the little ridge runner to the shop dressed for work. He can earn his keep and save you a few bucks in the process. Maybe even take a different approach to driving in the future," I told the dad.

 

My customer was a little taken back by my deal to save him some money, but it sounded like a good idea. Now his only job was to get the lad down to the shop ready to fulfill his part of the bargain.

 

Work stopped until I heard back from him. In the mean time, the car is stuck on the lift with no wheels and only half a suspension. With a service bay tied up, it's starting to cost me money. 2 days go by, then 4 more, another week and still no answer.

 

Finally on a Monday morning when I reached the point where I wasn't going to wait any longer… the dad calls, "Just fix it, and call me when it's ready. My son doesn't want to do it, and I'm not having much luck in getting him to your shop to help at all. So I guess I'll have to deal with the cost of the repair instead."

 

A little different deal than I expected. Well, a deal is a deal. I'll handle my end of the bargain, and old dad has decided on how to handle his. There's an old saying that comes to mind, it goes like this; "If you want to save a dollar … do the job yourself, but if you have to pay someone else to do it… don't ask for cheap work, unless you're willing to share the cost in some way."

 

After another day of getting everything back into place the car was ready for the road again. Sure there are few battle scars still showing, but mechanically the car is in great shape. That only leaves one more deal that's not quite finished.

 

… … the father needs to deal with the son. . . .

 

 

 

As always, these stories are here before final editing and publication. (You'll find the edited version in several trade magazines across the country.) Your feedback here at ASO helps me decide which stories go to the editors. So, in a way, YOU, actually decide which stories are sent to publication. I really appreciate your comments. Gonzo


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      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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