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Joe Marconi

Why Are Some Shops Afraid of Charging for Analysis?

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Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on a deserted island. I charge for diagnostic analysis. Why? Because I know what cost is to buy the tools, equipment, information systems, training and pay a technician to professionally and accurately diagnosis a check engine light, air bag, ABS or any other complicated problem. But, I feel a lot of shops are willing to give this up in hopes to get the work. In my opinion all they are doing is digging themselves in a hole.

 

And, I have heard all the reasons:

“If the customer gives me the job, I waive the analysis”.

“I package the analysis into the repair, so the customer does not see the diag charges”

“I will lose customers if I charge analysis”

And the best yet: “It only took me 10 minutes to diag the O2 sensor, so I can’t charge diag labor”.

 

Waiving the analysis is the same as a doctor waiving the x-rays and blood tests. They don’t do it, we should not either. I will also challenge those who “package” the analysis into the repair. You mean to tell me that after taking 1 hour to find a faulty mass air sensor, you will add the 1 hour to the 5 minutes it takes to install a new mass air? Come on, we all know the truth.

 

And let’s address the 10 minutes it took to find the failed O2 sensor. Did it really take 10 minutes? NO, it took years of training, years of experience, the investment in the right equipment and the investment in the right information systems. Why we sometimes diminish what we are truly worth is amazing. No other profession does that.

 

Sorry for being so tough on this topic, but business is hard enough these days and people question everything. If shops don’t realize what they are giving up, it makes it bad for all of us.

 

Please tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Or any other thoughts....

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I agree but it is hard to charge what you should because of the customers resistance and because of all of the shops in the industry that are doing different.

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Joe, you are not alone. I charge for analysis, always. We have to get paid for our time and our professional knowlege. What takes us a few minutes, may take others much more time. Should we sell ourselves short for this?? Heck no. We educate our customers on how, and why, they are paying for diagnosis and inspections ahead of time, makes life easier for me and my employees.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on a deserted island. I charge for diagnostic analysis. Why? Because I know what cost is to buy the tools, equipment, information systems, training and pay a technician to professionally and accurately diagnosis a check engine light, air bag, ABS or any other complicated problem. But, I feel a lot of shops are willing to give this up in hopes to get the work. In my opinion all they are doing is digging themselves in a hole.

 

And, I have heard all the reasons:

“If the customer gives me the job, I waive the analysis”.

“I package the analysis into the repair, so the customer does not see the diag charges”

“I will lose customers if I charge analysis”

And the best yet: “It only took me 10 minutes to diag the O2 sensor, so I can’t charge diag labor”.

 

Waiving the analysis is the same as a doctor waiving the x-rays and blood tests. They don’t do it, we should not either. I will also challenge those who “package” the analysis into the repair. You mean to tell me that after taking 1 hour to find a faulty mass air sensor, you will add the 1 hour to the 5 minutes it takes to install a new mass air? Come on, we all know the truth.

 

And let’s address the 10 minutes it took to find the failed O2 sensor. Did it really take 10 minutes? NO, it took years of training, years of experience, the investment in the right equipment and the investment in the right information systems. Why we sometimes diminish what we are truly worth is amazing. No other profession does that.

 

Sorry for being so tough on this topic, but business is hard enough these days and people question everything. If shops don’t realize what they are giving up, it makes it bad for all of us.

 

Please tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Or any other thoughts....

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Joe, I agree whole heartedly with you about charging for diagnostics. If you believe in your techs and equipment, you can sell diagnostics. I draw a picture for new customers for check engine lights. Then off each code, I draw four branches, down to 2 to finally get the fix. We do not deduct the diagnostic charges. What do the people do that say they include it in the price of the fix, when the person says Thank you and walks out. How do you pay your technician. Our techs would rebel, if they didn't get paid for diagnostics. Not sure if I can post here what are charges are for 1st step and pinpoint tests

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At one point I did not charge or charge the true value of diag. And being a small 2-3 man operation I didnt feel it was necessary. Then I began tracking the diag time and WOW! I was loseing it big time. I will still waive the the diag on occasion but it is an hour up front. Dont wana pay, take it down the road! I used to do work for another shop in town that was primarily a tire shop. Last car I worked on had over 1500 in parts hung and still had a misfire. I started out with computer diag thinking they had covered the basics. Was I wrong. 4 hours later I decided to do a compression test to find a burnt exhaust valve. Shop owner wanted to haggle the 4 hours. I told him next time save the 1500 in parts and bring the car to me first. He paid the ticket and aint seen him since AND REALLY DONT CARE. My standard daig fee is 1 hour computer time which is roughly 20% more than the standard labor rate. If y'all remember a year ago I had a "melt down" closed for a month and re-opened. Since then it is profit driven. I still do discount work on occasion but not like I used to. Without profit I wont be here next year!

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At one point I did not charge or charge the true value of diag. ............ If y'all remember a year ago I had a "melt down" closed for a month and re-opened. Since then it is profit driven. I still do discount work on occasion but not like I used to. Without profit I wont be here next year!

 

Good for you! You are absolutely on track!

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I've probably lost more jobs at the front desk because I charge to "look" at a car. I mainly do electronics and not motor related repairs. All my equipment dollars are in scanners, meters, scopes..etc... they ain't cheap.

 

I feel if I lose a job because they don't want to pay for diagnostics well... to friggin bad.

Some people believe that the diagnostic time is an open ticket to spend their money to look for the problem. I don't know where that idea comes from, maybe because they couldn't figure it out that must mean that it's going to take me "hours" to figure it out. Not true... and it's hard to convince them otherwise.

 

Here's a perfect example of a diagnostic routine I get into.

Customer comes in and wants it diagnosed. I tell them it's 65 bucks to do that. 25 bucks if all they want is codes read and a description of the possible related areas of the code solution. Most of the time they'll want it diagnosed.

 

I diagnose it. Let's say it turns out to be a blown fuse. I'll charge them 10 bucks to change the fuse.

On their work order it will say:

Diagnsotics 65.00

Repair cost 10.00

Total owed 75.00

 

Seems to work in most cases. But I still get the occasional... "It was only a fuse, well I'm not paying for the diagnostics then." Too bad, I've got the car... and when these type of people act that way I already know... they're never coming back.

 

I'm with you Joe, I don't give it away free. It's part of my service... it's my x-ray, it's my consulation fee. Ya don't like it... hit the road.

 

I've tried lower the diagnostics on slower times of the year, and quite frankly it doesn't help. If they are willing to have it diagnosed they'll pay for it... IF they don't think it's worthy to pay for diagnostics it doesn't matter how much it costs... they'll walk right back out the door. Never to been seen again.

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All great comments from everyone. I guess what we are fighting is the public's perception of the value of paying for diagnostic labor. My question is; how did this perception start in the first place? Let me give you my opinion: Shop owners giving diag away because the truly don't know how to charge for it, AutoZone and other part companies promoting Free Check Engine light diag and lack of education on the part of consumers (they don't know the complexity involved in cars today).

 

The other day a customer, a Doctor, got upset at the diag fee I charge to locate an EVAP leak. This is what he said, “You want to charge me $149.00 to analyze my check engine light?" I shot back at him at told him, "The analysis is free when YOU stop charging for x-rays and blood tests!"

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I too charge for diagnosis. I don't charge enough most times but I always try to anticipate how long it will take to figure out a problem. Like Gonzo wrote, it's a good way to pre-qualify the customer type. I struggle from time to time with diagnosis but I usually figure it out in a timely fashion, that's why I don't charge enough, I try to empathize and charge what it "should take" to figure out that problem, not what it took me. Part of my dilemma is that I'm a one man shop and get interrupted and have to "Get back in the groove" so my 3 hours maybe should have only taken 1.5. That is in no way the fault of the customer or their car so I feel they should not be responsible for the inefficiencies of my business.

 

Like many have said, I lose consumers at the front desk. If they don't want to pay I don't do the work. I had one just last week, wanted to know if I had free inspections. I asked what I would be inspecting,he said his car wasn't running right. I told him the equipment, information and education to competently "inspect" or more accurately diagnose his problem was not free so I had to charge for my use of it for his benefit. He decided he didn't want me to find the problem for him, apparently he would keep going to the parts store and throwing parts at it until he ran out of money.

 

I wonder if part of the reason why the consumer doesn't value our time, skill, equipment and commitment is because we make it look too easy. Or maybe why they value the medical testing more is because they are personally, physically involved where with their car it's behind-the-scenes. With medical, they feel the pin-prick, they see the massive, expensive MRI, there is big drama with the x-ray and the tech running off to the radiation free zone, etc. With their car, they drop it off and come back when it's done. No muss, no fuss, no pain, except in the wallet.

 

But unfortunately as long as there are low-ball, low grade low-equipped shops out there doing it for cheap, we will never achieve the level of respect or compensation that our years of masochism deserve.

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I too charge for diagnosis. I don't charge enough most times but I always try to anticipate how long it will take to figure out a problem. Like Gonzo wrote, it's a good way to pre-qualify the customer type. I struggle from time to time with diagnosis but I usually figure it out in a timely fashion, that's why I don't charge enough, I try to empathize and charge what it "should take" to figure out that problem, not what it took me. Part of my dilemma is that I'm a one man shop and get interrupted and have to "Get back in the groove" so my 3 hours maybe should have only taken 1.5. That is in no way the fault of the customer or their car so I feel they should not be responsible for the inefficiencies of my business.

 

Like many have said, I lose consumers at the front desk. If they don't want to pay I don't do the work. I had one just last week, wanted to know if I had free inspections. I asked what I would be inspecting,he said his car wasn't running right. I told him the equipment, information and education to competently "inspect" or more accurately diagnose his problem was not free so I had to charge for my use of it for his benefit. He decided he didn't want me to find the problem for him, apparently he would keep going to the parts store and throwing parts at it until he ran out of money.

 

I wonder if part of the reason why the consumer doesn't value our time, skill, equipment and commitment is because we make it look too easy. Or maybe why they value the medical testing more is because they are personally, physically involved where with their car it's behind-the-scenes. With medical, they feel the pin-prick, they see the massive, expensive MRI, there is big drama with the x-ray and the tech running off to the radiation free zone, etc. With their car, they drop it off and come back when it's done. No muss, no fuss, no pain, except in the wallet.

 

But unfortunately as long as there are low-ball, low grade low-equipped shops out there doing it for cheap, we will never achieve the level of respect or compensation that our years of masochism deserve.

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I too charge for diagnostics. We do mostly diesel trucks and some times it takes about 45 - 50 min to diagnose. That's 45-50 min off lost time. If we do this 4 times a day, we worked a half of a work day for free!!!

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