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Customers May Not Want to Hear the Truth, So Lie?


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The way I deal with delays are by preparing the customer ahead of time, for example, when quoting the job in addition to price we tell the customer that a job typically takes a certain amount of time barring any delays.

 

However, rusted bolts, hidden defects or damage will cause a delay.

 

Most customers will not pay attention to you when you are telling them this, yet I make it a point to repeat that delays can occur. This practice has become second nature and cannot tell you how many times it has saved my butt.

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As the name of my business suggests, my absolute goal is to remain honest and diligent in every aspect of my business. There has been more than one occasion I have had to tell a customer that I messed up and so their vehicle will not be finished when I promised, but as a general rule my GOAL is to maintain a standard of excellence whereby I don't keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. There will always be unforseen circumstances, however, and I am trying to break myself of the habit of blaming myself for not anticipating that rusted bolt or not ordering the part I MIGHT need ahead of time when I had no real way of knowing that's what the problem would turn out to be. As HarrytheCarGeek said, I also have found it beneficial to cover my butt ahead of time and make VERY clear to the customer that the time estimates are just that....estimates. I cannot guarantee there will not be any delay with unforseen problems or unavailable parts.

 

With all that said, in my effort to run an honest business, I struggle with another area of customer communication perhaps some of you vetran shop owners might be able to help me with. When I am working on a car, especially during routine service jobs, I make it a habit to keep my eyes open for other potential problems with the car that may require attention in the near future, but that aren't causing drivability issues YET. Unfortunately this habit leads me to see ALL KINDS of issues...many times requiring expensive repair bills, that the customer simply had no idea they needed. This creates problems for me in that I want to inform the customer of EVERYTHING that their vehicle needs so that they can be aware of the problems and (presumabely) make arrangements to get it repaired, but in my limited experience I have found that my customers [to tie this into the thread topic] simply don't want to hear the truth! If they bring it into me for an oil change and I hand them the $35 bill they want that to be the end of the transaction. When I tell them that their vehicle, in addition to regular maintenance, needs new tires, tie rod ends, ball joints, brakes, and has leaks in every major system they look at me like I am from another planet! To THEM...they thought it was running and driving just fine! Then, when I tell them it will cost over $1000 to fix all that stuff they either never bring it back to me or they go straight out and trade the vehicle in! I have come to dread even telling people all the things that are wrong with their car....they ask me to "check it over" just for good measure because it is running and driving fine, so the expectation is that I will come back and tell them about some piddly hose clamp I tightened or that I replaced a turn signal bulb for a cost of $20 extra. I am also very well aware that when I consistently find extra expensive repairs that customers need but did not ask for it makes me LOOK like I am just trying to milk them...which is really not my intention at all. What's an honest mechanic to do?

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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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