Jump to content
    • You can post now and register later. Already registered? sign in now to post with your account.
    • ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

        Only 75 emoji are allowed.

      ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

      ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

      ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

      Once you submit your question, a new topic will be created for you in our forums. Our moderators may move your topic to a more suitable forum category if one exists. Members will see your topic and be able to respond to your question.

    • This will not be shown to other users.

Diamond in the Rough --- --- --- Cheap cars are cheap for a reason ---

Recommended Posts

Diamond in the Rough



I seem to run across the same type of people over and over again who think the great deal they got on this used pile of junk is the best thing since sliced bread? It doesn't matter what year the car is, or what kind of car it is… if the deal sounds too sweet it is probably going to sour your pocketbook. It's not hard to spot these individuals in a crowd. They're usually beaming with pride, and even prouder to tell you what they just paid for the latest conquest. I find it rather comical in a way to see how they are so eager to tell me all about their "high value-low cost" wonder of the auto world.


There have been several of them over the years, more than I can even remember; some have been bought without having been looked at all, or the price was so good the new owner didn't seem to care what was really wrong with it. I've had expensive cars to cheap runabouts dragged, pushed, and shoved into my service bays over the years, only to find out the real issue with these gems is something so serious that the car should have been sent to the salvage yard in the first place.


One time it was a little Honda that a new proud owner brought in to me. The car was really clean, well kept and looked like it had a lot of new body parts added along with a fresh paint job. (He bought it at an insurance auction, by the way.) The only complaint was a thump when you would take off from a dead stop and a constant rubbing noise coming from the engine. The new owner was told it only needed a new motor mount. I wish they would have checked with me before they bought it but, you know… it was "such a good deal" why bother with having it checked out.


The new owner put it to me this way, "I can't go wrong for the price I paid for it." Hmmm, I don't think his good deal would cover a broken engine block right where the front motor mount bolts onto the engine. Awe, too bad… another diamond turns into coal.


Then there was the guy who bought a 4 year old Cadillac out of state-never seen it, and drove all the way there and back. The previous owner said he wired the coolant fans so they would stay on all the time, and that it wouldn't take much to repair it if he knew a good electrical repair shop. He came straight to my shop, and was I in for a surprise! It wasn't only the fans that were wired up direct, but practically everything under the hood. The engine compartment had been on fire, and the entire engine harness and lighting harness was wired with one color wire…. black. Every splice was taped together without any solder or protection. How this guy made it as far as he did was a miracle. Needless to say, the repair was going to be more than the guy wanted to spend on it, so he decided to sell it to the next gemologist that came along.


Then, just this past week, I had a real gold digger make his way to my shop. Not only was this jacked up Dodge diesel pickup a banged up brute, but the guy took it to a transmission shop to have a new transmission installed… AND… he hadn't even bought it from the previous owner yet! So here's a guy buying parts for a vehicle he doesn't even own. Unbelievable… Oh, but it gets better… the transmission wasn't the only thing that was shot. The reason it was shot is because it's stuck in limp home, and the previous owner just kept hammering the pedal to the floor. That big Cummins engine just tore the transmission up. My job was to find out why it was in limp mode. Not only was it in limp, but there wasn't any communication to the PCM. One look at the harness told the story. This truck was a 98 model and had seen better days a long time ago. Looked to me as if somebody thought they could get real creative with the wiring, and had more spliced in goodies everywhere I looked than I've ever seen on any other vehicle before. Well, so much for this repair job. You know this is going to be more expensive than this guy wants to spend.


Now what does the fella do? He doesn't own the rig, but he's put all his money into the transmission and has nothing left to finish the job… and… he still has to pay for the actual truck. I guess it's time to head back to the diamond mine and look for some more sparkly gems.


After all these years, I can't imagine looking at something as expensive as a vehicle, a house, or other big ticket item that I know nothing about, without consulting an expert.


There's no diamonds in the rough, people! Oh there's the occasionally "little old lady left me this car stories" but for the most part… cheap deals are not cheap, especially when it comes to cars. There are so many moving parts and problems to be considered, you just can't use your wallet as the deciding factor whether or not it's a good deal. Use some common sense, and don't just buy it because the price is so good.


My shop offers a "Pre-Buy" check up just as many other shops do. I'd take advantage of it; it's well spent money on a used vehicle, and not a wasted effort on your part. Look at it this way, the only thing you're out is the cost of the "Pre-Buy" you're not stuck with a diamond in the rough that is more than likely just another piece of "fools gold".


When a customer comes in and tells me they are looking at a new ride, I offer to do a "Pre-Buy" checkup on for them. If they refuse, because they don't want to spend the money with me to have it checked out, I just smile, and tell them…


"Good luck fella. You're going to need it. I'd bring your diggin' tools… 'cause I can almost guarantee that this diamond in the rough is going to have you digging one deep hole in your pocket."



I tell the stories about our daily lives in the automotive industry. You like them, let me know. As well as being a shop owner I'm also a monthly columnist for several trade magazines. Your input helps me decide which stories I send off to the editors. So in a way, everyone here at ASO gets to decide which stories go into print. So here's your chance...leave a comment... I really appreciate it. (In fact if you follow my column you get to see how much the editors change the stories from what I started with and what actually goes into print.) Gonzo :)




Click here to view the article

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We allow visitors to read the first post of each topic. To read this post, please login or register for a membership. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We allow visitors to read the first post of each topic. To read this post, please login or register for a membership. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Topics

    • By Joe Marconi
      The year was 1980 - the year I founded my company. And, like many new business owners, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what was needed to grow a successful business.  I thought that success would be determined by my technical skills and my willingness to wear the many hats of the typical shop owner. It wasn’t until I began to let go of trying to do everything that I realized that success is not just dependent on what I do, but by the collective work accomplished by the team. I eventually discovered that I was not the center of my universe.  After a few years in business, I began the transition from simply owning a job to becoming a businessman. And, while technology has reshaped our industry throughout the years—and will continue to do so—there is one constant that will never change: success in business rests largely on the people you have assembled around you.
      By the late '80s it was obvious that I was doing way too much. I looked at each role I had my hands on: shop foreman, service advisor, shuttle driver, bookkeeper to lot attendant. And, as long as I’m confessing all this to you, I need to disclose that I was also the shop’s maintenance person; making repairs to the bay doors, the slop sink and equipment. You name it, I did it. I was literally too busy to be successful.
      In order to lead my company, I had to first clearly define my responsibilities. These are working on the business, recruiting and hiring the best employees, becoming a leader of people and making sure that my business was successful. I also needed to fulfill the obligation I had to my employees. I realized that this required a deep understanding that putting people first is the best strategy for success. This was difficult at first because it requires working on things that have no immediate impact on the business. Unlike working in the trenches and having your hands on everything, working as a businessperson means that you need to spend time building for the future. The things that are most important to your success in business are the things that have a payoff down the road.  
      I also clearly defined the duties I should not be doing and assigned those tasks to others. This is a critical step for any shop owner.  Warren Buffett says that in order to be successful in whatever you do, it’s crucial to focus on the things that generates the greatest return and that you can’t do it all, and that means sometimes you have to say, “no.”  
      By the late '90s it became clear that the most valuable role I played in my business was that of coach. All the best marketing plans and the best business strategies mean nothing without a team of great people around you all pushing in the right direction. And that takes a strong leader. Not just a boss, but a leader.  Leaders inspire people. Leaders get others to reach down deep inside themselves and perform at their best because they are aligned with the leader’s vision. 
      Leaders inspire others through praise and recognition for the work they do. When people feel their work matters, they have a purpose. People are motivated by the heart, not the wallet. That’s not to say earning a decent wage isn’t important. But a focus on money alone is not a strategy for success. Focus on people first and profit will follow.  
      Spend time with your employees. Get to know them as people, not just the role they have in your company.  Find out what their dreams and goals are. And then find a way for others to achieve what they want out of life.  People cannot be motivated until they realize that what they do every day helps them to achieve what they want in their personal life.  
      There are other people in our business world that we must never forget. And that’s our customers.  If you were to ask me, who is more important, my employees or my customers? I would answer, “They are equally important.”  You cannot have a successful business without the right employees and the right customers.  
      One last bit of advice I can give you is to focus on your success, no one else’s.  Be very clear about the pathways you take and never forget about the obligation you have to others. Build a company culture of teamwork, quality and integrity.  Focus on what’s in the best interest of the customer and the people around you. Put people first, and everything else will fall into place.  
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 4th, 2020


      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      According to Zip Recruiter, tech pay on average is about $41,000 per year.  Is this an issue?   I know many of you pay more than average, but do you think that we need to increase tech pay in order to attract more people to the auto repair industry.   One other thing to consider, the shop and shop owner needs to be profitable and make the money first in order to pay anyone a decent wage.
      Your thoughts?  
    • By Joe Marconi
      I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and the very best in 2017!
      I also want to take this time to thank all of our amazing members for making AutoShopOwner.com the number 1 go-to auto shop business forums website on the planet!
      Joe Marconi
    • By bantar
      I get the daily calls of wanting me to switch CC processors and with MUCH (misplaced) confidence, I refused to have a discussion with any of these guys, because I already had great rates.   Then, I had a persistent one call me back and ask why I didn't want to talk.  She said enough right things that I let the salesman come visit me.  
      My rates were and supposedly were going to get better over time as I built up history.  Original Quote:
      Credit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange (AMEX 0.055%) Debit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction PCI Compliance-$9.95/monthly Chargeback fee-$10.00 (VISA, MC, Discover) $30.00 (AMEX) Paper Statement-$5.95 monthly (online statements free) The other guy comes in and tells me that my current processor increased my rates and added numerous junk fees.    The rate raised to 0.25% for most cards and .75% for AMEX and now have a $34.95 platform fee and numerous other fees.   At this point, I stand to save $250/month minimum by switching CC vendors.     I did confirm that on day 1, my bills had way fewer fees.  The bills also stated that they were raising rates along the way, so they were disclosed and allowed by contract.  I'm halfway thru a 3 year contract with a $495 cancellation fee.   This is what I'm paying now with the same processor: 
      Credit Card Rate - 0.25% + Interchange (AMEX 0.75%) Debit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction PCI Compliance-$9.95/monthly Annual PCI Audit Fee - $99 Chargeback fee-$10.00 (VISA, MC, Discover) $30.00 (AMEX) Paper Statement-$5.95 monthly (online statements free) New Junk Fees - $41 To be clear, the interchange fees don't change on either deal.  We are only dealing with CC processor markup fees and junk fees.   The 0.05% is a markup fee over interchange.    The new deal is:
      Credit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange (all cards including AMEX) Debit Card Rate - 0.00% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction PCI Compliance - $0 (with a successful audit and $9.95/month penalty without one) Annual PCI audit fee - ?? Chargeback fees - $25.00 (VISA, MC, Discover, AMEX) - refundable if you win Monthly Charge - $10.00 As best I can tell, it looks legitimate.   I'll be carefully reading the new contract tomorrow.   So, the real question is whether or not I'm switching from one liar to another liar?     This second one is telling me that my contract will have the rates guaranteed and locked in.   If I see the right things in writing, I'll be switching.  Will recoup my cancellation / startup costs in 3 months.
      I guess the moral is get an annual checkup from a competitor. 
      Supposedly these rates are available as a result of being low-risk from my transaction history (or it's just marketing-speak).  I don't know.    My original deal was reasonable, but it isn't any longer.   My plans were to wait for the 3 year contract to end before shopping around.
    • By Joe Marconi
      A few years ago, some friends and I were having dinner at a local restaurant. There were six of us enjoying the food and having a great time. A few minutes after our waiter served us our coffee and dessert, the owner of the restaurant walked over to us, introduced himself and said, “I have people waiting for this table; how much longer do you think you’ll be?” Shocked by his comment, I hesitated for a second, looked up at him and said, “No worries, we’re done.” With just a few simple words, the owner of the restaurant wiped out the pleasant experience we were all having.
      As we were finishing up, we couldn’t help noticing the stares from our waiter and the owner. Their eyes were laser-focused on us. They made it obvious that they wanted our table. We didn’t say anything to our waiter, or the owner. But we told each other, “We’ll think twice about coming back to this restaurant.” None of us ever did go back to that restaurant. And I heard similar complaints from other friends about that restaurant. About a year later, that restaurant closed its doors for the last time.
      As a business owner, I fully understand what each table means in terms of profit. The tables at a restaurant are no different than the service bays in our business. The more people you can process through the restaurant, the more profitable the restaurant is. The more cars we can process through our service bays, the more profitable we are.
      While I don’t fault the owner of the restaurant for recognizing the need to be profitable, I do fault the owner for not understanding a basic rule in achieving success in business. And that is: You build a business one customer at a time and by developing strong, long-term relationships with those customers. And to maintain that success, a business must continuously cultivate those relationships.
      The owner of this restaurant didn’t get it. All of us had dined at his establishment before. The owner didn’t see us as an opportunity to strengthen the relationships. He saw the opposite. By asking for our table, he put the emphasis on his next sale and eliminated any chance of us returning again. Losing customers, and not understanding why, is the kiss of death for any small business.
      What the owner determined important was profit per table, per person. The process to get people fed and done became the primary objective, when it should have been ensuring its customers were enjoying a nice meal and having a great time. It was a mistake that eventually led to his failure. Never think that customer quantity ever outweighs the quality of the customer experience. Making a memorable experience is the essence of great customer service.
      If we dig a little deeper, we find another mistake made by the restaurant owner: believing that the customer experience was over when the meal was over. The meal was prepared, it was served and we consumed it. Then, at some point during the end of that process, we became an obstacle to his next sale. He failed to comprehend that the sale is not over when the meal is over, and that everything that occurs right up to the moment when a customer drives away from his parking lot will have an influence on whether that customer will return in the future.
      The lesson for us is simple: Never lose sight of the importance of creating a customer. Establish a culture in your company that cultivates long-term relationships. Build a process that always strives for world-class customer service during the entire customer experience—and especially at car delivery.
      Never think that when the technician completes the repair, your job is done. The customer experience continues right up until the time the customer is picking up their car. The time you spend with the customer after the repair is done is as important as making the sale.
      Value each customer. Work on those relationships. Don’t worry about short term profit gain. Remember: building long-term relationships, builds long-term profit.
      By the way, that restaurant has recently opened up again. My friends and I went there for dinner last Friday night. We noticed that the new owner was walking around greeting everyone. He eventually made his way to our table, introduced himself and said, “Can I get anyone anything? It’s great to see you here tonight and hope to see you again soon. Thank you.”
      Now, you tell me: Do you think we’ll go back?
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 1st, 2019

      View full article

  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors

Tire Rack: Revolutionizing tire buying since 1979.
Fast Free Shipping on All Orders Over $50

Fast Free Shipping on All Orders Over $50
  • Create New...