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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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