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Be Professional - - - Yes, there's unscrupulous business professionals everywhere


Gonzo

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Be Professional

 

 

 

The definition as Wikipedia describes it: "A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks,and to complete them for a fee." That's true, and "professions" are associated with some sort of recognition that quantifies them as a professional, such as a diploma, certificate, or degree.

 

 

In the automotive field an ASE certification, manufacturer certifications, or years of service are just some of the ways to distinguish one as a pro vs. a parts swapping wanna-be mechanic. But the mere fact of calling oneself a professional doesn't always add up to the degree or certificate that says you are one. In my opinion, handling yourself as a professional matters just as much.

 

 

I try to approach each and every job as a professional. These include detailing your results and striving to make each repair look as neat and orderly as possible. (Sloppy work usually means sloppy results.) It doesn't matter whether the job is for a customer off the street or for another repair shop… you do the best professional job possible.

 

 

I recently got a car from a small motor swap shop that I used to see once in a great while. They never sent a lot of work, but their techs would call me constantly asking for information on how to repair something. Very rude, and definitely a second rate repair shop. Grudgingly, I told them I would look at this car, even though it didn't sound like one I wanted to deal with. The car had a zillion miles on it with a turbo/intercooler engine under the hood. The car definitely had seen better days, however this was the typical type of car they were likely to get in their shop.

 

 

Under the hood I found a lot of new parts slapped on and several things out of place,most of which were not fastened down correctly with their retainers or clips. What wasn't broken or out of place was coated with oil sludge and dirt. You could tell they had no idea what was wrong or what they were doing, and were only throwing parts at it hoping it would start.

 

 

The first thing I found were several wires that were poorly spliced together, and most of the relays were dangling off their brackets. I had to fix the wires even before I could check the rest of the systems. The main complaint was the fuel pump wasn't coming on. They had already changed out the fuel pump relay, and even though (at the relay) it had all the correct signals, it refused to cooperate. What I found was something I rarely see, but it does happen… the relay was built backwards. For now, the easiest solution was to reverse the leads at the relay. Once I switched it over, the car started. It ran terrible, service light was flashing,and a misfire code was stored.

 

 

Upon further diagnosing, I found a broken wire at the no#1 coil. The front cylinders were a little easier to get to, but the no#1 cyl. was in the back,covered by all the intercooler and intake tubes. I had the O Scope hooked up to a pressure transducer, and it was showing some weird exhaust pressure readings. Sure enough, a compression test on one of the front cylinders confirmed my suspicion: the converter was clogged as well. I wasn't surprised that the sparkplugs were, at best... finger tight, and every single intake bolt, intercooler bolt, and fasteners had never been properly tightened. Instead of pulling the intake section and intercooler lines off to get to the no#1 cylinder and fix the wire, I thought it's time to call these guys and give them the news.

 

 

"We can handle it from here," they told me.

 

 

They paid for my time, and as expected it wasn't long before they needed more help. They had already fixed the wire on the coil and replaced the converter.It started, but died shortly after that. They were at a loss, so naturally I got a call. I could tell there was already some tension from their end of the phone, and I was going to be the scapegoat for this car's demise.

 

 

"I'd check the fuel pressure... sounds like that might be part of the original problem, before all this other stuff went wrong," I told him before he rudely hung the phone up.

 

 

I went over my test results again. My guess is they probably broke the wires while changing the plugs, and only made things worse by changing the relays. More than likely the fuel pump was the original problem all along, with a slightly clogged converter.

 

 

I always thought these guys were a little shifty, and it wasn't long before I found out for sure. Their tech needed to save face with the boss,so he proceeded to tell him I didn't know what I was doing, and never did anything to help the repair along. The owner turned out to be just as unprofessional as his hired hands. What was my clue? He stopped payment on the check.

 

 

You bet I was furious... but, let's cool down a bit and not stoop to their level… let's be professional about this. I kept my cool and called them, "I'm not here to lie, cheat or steal...and I've never-ever done that to you or anyone else. I'm here to do a job… a job I do with the utmost of care. Your lack of handling things in a professional manner only shows me what caliber of a person you really are. If you had a problem, call me or bring the car back. But trying to save a few bucks on your part after the efforts I put in this is uncalled for. I don't want your money. I also don't want your techs calling me to pick my brain for answers. It's not about the money now, it's about the principle."

 

 

I said my peace, and hung up the phone…case closed. Shops like these give the rest of us a bad name. They'll deny everything, charge for anything, and never do any service on a customer's car in a professional manner. I could tell they expected an argument once they realized who was on the other end of the line, but they weren't expecting the response I gave them. It's as if they hada lot of practice arguing with customers over repairs… I'm not arguing…

 

 

Actually, I felt a hundred percent better after handling it this way. I didn't see any reason to stand there toe to toe, and try to get compensated for my professional time. My professionalism means more to me than a few bucks. Let's face it, for a repair shop to insult another shop, especially when they couldn't figure it out shows their true nature.

 

 

The Wikipedia definition of a professional needs some clarification. It should have included not only doing a task or job for compensation… but acting like one after you've written the check.

 

 

Who loses out with these poor repairs done by mechanics who only know how to swap parts? …unfortunately, the customer.

 


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Water Proof And Self Adhesive

It's not my habit to write "ticked-off" stories, but this was something that I thought needed to be told. We all talk about those unscrupulous shops and how the customer gets taken by one of them, well... this time it was the other way around.... I thought it was time to put it in writing that not only the consumer has to be aware... but so do other repair shops when dealing these kinds of idiots.

 

I would expect a professional to act professional...but, I guess that's just too much to ask for from some people.

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Directing you to your last sentence:

 

"Who loses out with these poor repairs done by mechanics who only know how to swap parts? …unfortunately, the customer."

 

Who loses in my opinion? Everyone except the poorly run shop that did the work. Surely the customer as you mention but they may deserve it. They probably chose the shop because they didn't want to pay to have the job done right. If they didn't know the shop was performing poor work they do now. Other shops in the area lose as well. I have seen shops that low ball price suck the life out of other shops by taking work from them. Only to have both go down the tubes because the poorly ran shop didn't get the training... buy the equipment to do the job they are doing... charge enough to make a profit so they could stay in business.

 

I'm sure you have had the "new" customer trying to get their car repaired come in and say "I have spent enough trying to get this car fixed and I do not want to spend anymore". I hand them back their keys and with as much professionalism as I can mustard up inform them they didn't spend a dime at our place yet. It takes proper knowledge and test equipment to determine what is wrong with their vehicle and there will be a charge for it. From there I will call them and give them the results of the tests and an amount to fix their vehicle. If that is good with them then we'll proceed. Nine out of ten will give me the keys a second time. If so they accepted how we are going to do it and understand there will be a charge for it. For the one in ten that don't... Well they deserve the shop that does the poor work and I have sent them down the road.

Edited by Spence
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Well put Spence, and I do think you're right about the customer choosing that particular shop because of costs or other "dollar" reasons. Quality went out the window on both sides, customer and repair shop.

Directing you to your last sentence:

 

"Who loses out with these poor repairs done by mechanics who only know how to swap parts? …unfortunately, the customer."

 

Who loses in my opinion? Everyone except the poorly run shop that did the work. Surely the customer as you mention but they may deserve it. They probably chose the shop because they didn't want to pay to have the job done right. If they didn't know the shop was performing poor work they do now. Other shops in the area lose as well. I have seen shops that low ball price suck the life out of other shops by taking work from them. Only to have both go down the tubes because the poorly ran shop didn't get the training... buy the equipment to do the job they are doing... charge enough to make a profit so they could stay in business.

 

I'm sure you have had the "new" customer trying to get their car repaired come in and say "I have spent enough trying to get this car fixed and I do not want to spend anymore". I hand them back their keys and with as much professionalism as I can mustard up inform them they didn't spend a dime at our place yet. It takes proper knowledge and test equipment to determine what is wrong with their vehicle and there will be a charge for it. From there I will call them and give them the results of the tests and an amount to fix their vehicle. If that is good with them then we'll proceed. Nine out of ten will give me the keys a second time. If so they accepted how we are going to do it and understand there will be a charge for it. For the one in ten that don't... Well they deserve the shop that does the poor work and I have sent them down the road.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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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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