Jump to content


Once, Twice, Three Times - How many times do you have to tell someone something until they get it.

Recommended Posts

Once, Twice, Three Times

Have you ever noticed when explaining something to a customer who doesn't like your answer, you end up explaining things at least 3 times? Why is that? After all these years I still haven't figured it out completely. I feel like I'm talking to my kids when they were younger. My kids would argue over the silliest things. Mainly, because they thought they were right, even though they never had a clue what they truly were arguing about.


I could explain things in several different ways, and they'll ask their questions in several different ways. None of it ever worked. Because, it didn't matter how they ask their questions, the answers always came out the same.


Take for example this "not so interested in spending a dime with me customer" that came in. Seems he had a problem with one of his grandson's cars, and Grandpa was one of those guys who kept the kin folks cars up and running. He wasn't about to bend and let somebody else fix one of the family's personal rides… that was his job. But he was stuck on this one, he didn't have an answer to the problem it was having.


He carefully explained to me that the wiper motor was running but the blades weren't moving. But rather than asking me what I thought was wrong with the wipers he asked a direct question to which I was to give him a direct answer.


"Is there a shear pin on these wiper linkage arms?"


Now I know there isn't one, they haven't used a shear pin in years. I haven't seen one used in a decade or so. This guy was so sure of himself there was no need in asking me anything in regards to what was wrong with the wipers, he understood how they worked he just wanted his question answered. His question was so direct and said in such a "direct" way… I gave him his direct answer.


"No sir, there is no shear pin in this wiper system."


I find it very interesting how people will explain a system in such detail, and then almost get to the point of solving the problem without even realizing it. Some people will get stuck on one issue they are "certain" IS the problem, and will not budge off of that topic.


"Well, there must be…. because the blades are not moving."


"I could get it in the shop and diagnose it for you."


This isn't the line of questioning he wanted any part of. He wanted free answers. Oh I'll give him answers, but only to the questions that he specifically asks. The solution was a simple one… let me diagnose it…, but he didn't want that at all, he wanted his question answered.


I guess I could have told him what was actually wrong with it, but why? Why am I unlocking the door to the shop every morning? Why am I standing here with grease under my fingernails a couple of scanners and dollar after dollar wrapped up in diagnostic information? Oh, that's right… I'm an auto mechanic; I fix cars for a living. You know, I'll bet this guy gets up in the morning and goes to work too. But for some reason some people don't make the connection between paycheck and the automotive mechanic. I've even been told that I make more than they do, and that isn't right. Really? So my choice of professions should be offset with your choice of income? Let's not go there people… I guess they never heard of overhead costs, equipment costs, payrolls, etc… etc… etc….


Each time this fella would ask about the linkage, the wiper motor, or the blades he eventually would come back to the shear pin again. Around and around it went. I wasn't budging or offering any free advice and neither was he. I finally told the guy, "Look, I'm not looking at your car for free, and I don't feel it's my place to tell you how to fix it… this is what I do for a living you know."


"Oh, I understand, I wouldn't ask you to do it for nothing… but what do you think, replacing the shear pin would fix it right?"


Do I need to write this down for this guy? I know I'm past the 3rd time of telling him… there is no shear pin, and NO, I don't think he understands that I charge to fix cars. I can't get it through this knuckle head's skull. I'll fix the darn thing in the parking lot with one turn of a wrench, if this guy would stop trying to insult my profession by asking me to tell him how to make the repairs vs. my getting paid to do the same.


I guess he finally realized I wasn't going to solve his shear pin problem with a conversation in the front office. Out the door and down the road he went. A few days later he was back, book in hand with the pages marked.


"There's no shear pin in this wiper linkage. But I still don't see the problem," he tells me, "Can you fix it? I brought the book for you, I even marked the pages."


"I'll write it up and have it done in just a bit. You can wait in the lobby for it."


He agreed, and I went straight to work. It took me longer to fill out the invoice than it did to tighten the nut on the wiper arms. I marked the page that showed the nut and how it held down the wiper arms for him. Hopefully, he'll understand the repair now. Oh don't worry, I "did" charge him for my time, not much mind you… I wanted to prove to this guy that it takes more than a book to fix a car these days. (Even though this didn't take a whole lot of brain power to solve this simple wiper problem.)


Every now and then this old timer will come back to the shop. He does the same thing over and over each time. He'll try to solve the problem with his own logic, and then get frustrated with me because I won't tell him how he can fix it at home. A few days go by; he'll cool off and leave me the car. You'd think once, twice, maybe three times of my telling him, he'd get the idea… but no……………………………………..


He'll keep repeating the whole process… over and over again.





As always these stories are here for your enjoyment and before final editing. Your comments are a part of the process to tell which stories make it to the editors desk. It's your comments that help decide which stories actually get into my columns across the country.

Take a moment, leave a comment... it always helps.


Click here to view the article

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Forum Topics

    • By Jay Huh
      I've been lucky so far but I couldn't escape the "slow" season forever. I'm in NC and we got 2 inches of snow and the whole city/county shut down for days.....
      We got snow Saturday, had pretty much no customers Friday, Sat (closed) Monday and today and tomorrow doesn't look good either (no appointments).
      Techs are getting frustrated with no work (they are flat rate and usually stay busy) and obviously not good for me or the business. Do you guys go to auction and buy cars to sell? I usually have 1 car that I work on at all times for myself to sell but I haven't bought a car off of a customer in a while.
      It's a bit of a pain to get a dealer license here so wondering if you guys do it
    • By 5 Star Auto Spa
      How long does it take for your technicians to complete a full service oil change with a standard under hood/car vehicle inspection? Are you using tablets or paper repair orders? Do you track oil change times to try and improve speed and efficiency?
    • By ncsvoboda7
      I'm starting an automotive and tire business here in central Kansas. Just want to hear from you guys when your busy, steady and slow times of the year for service are? Thanks!
    • By CAautogroup
      Hello all,
      How do you handle your shop when work is slow? We have guys that sit around, talk and play on their phones, surf the internet, etc and to be honest, it frustrates me cause i am essentially paying them while they are doing it (we pay by the hour).
      Should i send some guys home early?
      Thanks in advance.
    • By quinn49
      Seems like lately we have been working out a lot of estimates without getting the job. Sometimes i feel like were wasting a lot of time to sit down and work these out.
      Are we getting to detailed when doing this? I have learned to try and secure a appointment before giving a estimate, but that does not seem to work either. I'm not looking to land all the Customer's that call, but some would be nice!! More and more we are seeing people want to supply their own parts. In the past we never did this. Is it time to start thinking about changing how a CSP (customer supplied part) job is handled?
      Looking for any thoughts
      Thanks Jim Quinn
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors