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You Want Fries With That? --- So many people are in a hurry these days


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You Want Fries With That?



I often wonder if some people think car repair is like a fast food drive up restaurant. They must be thinking it is, because it's the only way to explain their actions and questions at the front desk. I've even had people pull in front of the shop or right in front of a bay door (blocking any progress I was making) and expect me to do whatever it is right then and there.


Where in the history of auto repair did this ever get started?


Some of these "hurry-up-get-it-done-now" people just don't get it. They seriously think there is a magical scanner that will not only diagnose, but also repair their car in 15 minutes or less. Now, I pride myself on diagnosing most problems within a given time period, usually 10 minutes or less, to no more than 45 minutes for some stubborn type problems. If it takes longer than 45 minutes just to diagnose it, I'm either doing it wrong, skipped a procedure, or I've finally met my match, and it's time to go flip hamburgers for a living. But if we are talking about the actual repair … that can take a lot of time.


But as far as what it means to a service tech when somebody wants to wait while hovering over them like a vulture… well, it usually means (to me), they don't trust the technician. Maybe they just want to learn something… Really?… Learn what? How to fix their car so they don't have to bring it into the repair shop next time...? I guess that would speed things up a bit. But I'm not there to teach, I'm there to fix the car. I'd like to tell them they should go stand over the cooks and watch how they're making their next burger … yea; I can see that going over real well at the restaurant.


There is also another type of person out there that not only has a great deal of miss-trust for service people, but their personal lives are so hectic they can't slow down to watch a sunset. They expect everything in their life to snap to attention when they say go, and nobody better slow them down.


They'll wait in the lobby or waiting room for only so long, and then they'll start to pace around like a thoroughbred race horse anxious to get out of the starting blocks. First in the waiting room, then into the front of the office, finally their pacing reaches out into the parking lot, and up and down in front of the service bay doors… usually with their cell phone stuck to their head, trying to find another repair shop in the area that can "get-to-it" quicker than I can.


By the time the pacing has reached the service bay level, the waiting is usually over, and they'll come up with some excuse like, "I just need to check on a few things across town. I'll be back in an hour or so" or "I forgot something at home, I'll be right back. Save me a spot OK?" Sure … you forgot something … Oh don't worry, I've saved a special spot just for you.


Now really, do ya think I just fell of the proverbial turnip truck just yesterday? I guess you think you've come up with this grandiose idea of how to graciously back out of waiting all by yourself, and nobody has ever tried that line on me before. Right, you keep thinking that… … and of course, they never make it back… they're gone… gone for good.


My wife will always tell me, "One car at a time, honey." I know, I know… it still bugs me that people can't be patient. I guess I'll never understand.


Maybe what I should do is buy an old fast food restaurant with a drive up window, and set up a menu board with a selection of different types of auto repairs on it with prices clearly marked. Forget diagnosing cars, forget verifying complaints, and just fix whatever they order through that scratchy sounding intercom. I'd do all the money transactions at the first window, and then motion them onto the next window where a team of techs would jump out with little paper hats on and go at it with the speed of a pit crew. Wrenches flying, impacts at the ready, timing belts flying through the air and landing in the engine with every tooth precisely in place, and… before you know it… the car is back on the road.


Wow, what an idea…


Rush, rush, rush, rush… hurry, hurry, hurry… that's what it's really all about. I'm rushed enough anymore, I don't need any help from a cell phone carrying customer pacing in front of my service bays. It should be pretty simple to understand if all the bays are full and people are busy it's more than likely you're going to have to wait. You know, we all can't be first in line… quit shoving; you'll get your turn.


What's really funny, well sort of funny… is the car in question isn't even in the service bay yet. We haven't even begun to see the fun we'll be having with Mr. or Mrs. Hurryup especially when you finally get it diagnosed and you tell them it's going to take a few hours to fix their car.


I'd like to think I can help anyone who comes to my door, but you know, I've been at this a long time. I know better. Trying to please everyone is never going to be possible. I'm better off standing at the front desk and taking down their information and when they tell me… "I need this done right now!" I'm going to answer them with;


"Do you want fries with that?"


and see what kind of response I get then.




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And those are the ones that usually will tell you... "I'm not in any hurry... take your time..." LOL... man I know what ya mean.. been there,


Your article reminds me of the woman who dropped a car off this week and then called every 30 minutes to see if it was done. She drove us crazy.

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Been there, don't that.. totally agree with ya Joe... If the customer would just sit down and wait, or wait for my call... I'll bet I could take care of it. I hate being pushed and shoved into a repair because THEY are on a time crunch.


I've even had them tell me, "Call, me when your slower, I'll bring the car back then so you can get to it right away." Seriously??? you want me to call you when I'm not busy?? I seem to have lost there number, hmmm, ....


I have been saying for many, many years; Fixing cars are not the problem, it's the owner of the car that causes all the issues. Left alone and with all our resources, we can fix nearly anything that comes through our bay doors. The frustration and stress orginates from the vehcile owner.


Here's my nightmare (happened the other day, again). A customer arrives a 3:00 in the afternoon and wants his check engine light diganosed. After telling him that he needs to dropped the car off and words back and forth that all I need to do is through it on that fancy machine, he says, "Let me see if there are any other shops around that could do it sooner".


My nightmare? He's back at my service counter an hour later, everyone else through him out too!

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Been there, don't that.. totally agree with ya Joe... If the customer would just sit down and wait, or wait for my call... I'll bet I could take care of it. I hate being pushed and shoved into a repair because THEY are on a time crunch.


I've even had them tell me, "Call, me when your slower, I'll bring the car back then so you can get to it right away."   Seriously???  you want me to call you when I'm not busy??    I seem to have lost there number, hmmm, ....


I get that just a little to often! I have a handful of customers that want to just come in when they feel like it but refuse to call ahead to make an appointment. They show up and if I tell them I'm backed up I'll get a "well I'll try again in a few days when your not so busy" or the "call me when you have time" but for reasons I cant comprehend resist making an actual appointment in advance.

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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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