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By Joe Marconi
The other day, one of my service advisors, Kristina, was speaking to a customer about worn control arm bushings on her Honda. The customer was in the waiting room, sitting and reading a magazine, while her car was being serviced along with a New York State annual safety inspection.
Kristina got half way through her explanation of the control arm bushings when the customer said, "Stop right there." She then opened up the magazine she was reading (a copy of March 2016 Issue Consumer Report), which was in our pile of magazines and said, "Look here, Honda control arm bushings are among the 5 Sneaky Mechanic Scams!" Kristina did not make the sale and Thank You Consumer Reports, a motorist is now driving a car with worn lower control arm bushings; a potentially unsafe condition.
The Consumer reports article was written by a so-called expert, and is slanted against the repair shop. No surprise there, we are easy targets. I don't know how that magazine got into my waiting area, but I will pay more attention to the magazines I offer to my customers.
I will also voice my opinion to Consumer Report Magazine and urge everyone to voice their opinions too.
PLEASE NOTE: I checked online and the March 2016 Issue is not on the web yet.
So its finally happening, I've found a business partner and we are hitting th e ground a week from today.
Idk how many of you have been on reddit before but they have a section of the forum for business startups to essentially blog each day throughout the process. I am curious is there a place for that on this forum? Would anyone be interested in following me as I go through the process??
Pet Peeves 2
Pet peeves, how many are there? Well, enough of them that one article wouldn’t hold them all. I have received so many emails, texts, and phone calls about it that I thought; Why not put everyone’s pet peeve into a another article and give credit where credit is due. You know, to the guys and gals that not only read these stories, but live and work through these pet peeves as well. So here we go, in no particular order “Pet Peeves 2”
Butch, Pittsburgh, Pa. – Doing a tire rotation and the owner has no idea where they’ve tossed the wheel lock socket. It’s somewhere in the car is the closest gps location you ever get.
Jack K. - My biggest pet peeve is when the vehicle owner has to have it finished today or else, so we work extra hard to get it done putting other cars off and when we call them to pick it up they say, Oh I will get it tomorrow.
Mark S. Wichita, Ks – People in unrelated professions that want to tell me how to do my job. Aircraft pilots for example, find enough time to talk about their car “woes” while they are in flight. These guys all get together and trouble-shoot their cars while maintaining a constant glide path. They arrive at a diagnosis, a systematic solution including which tools to use and of course, all of this without any tests or actual knowledge of the inner workings of the systems, just what they think they can surmise as to how the system must have evolved into today’s sophisticated electronic nightmare.
Then they tell me what’s wrong, how to fix it, and just how much I should charge for it. For some reason, they get all upset when I tell them that I have no way of knowing what they have come up with is correct or not. “We know what’s wrong, can’t you go off that?” they’ll tell me. I might say, “Since you seem to know, why don’t you go ahead and fix it yourself?” I probably shouldn’t have said that, but after trying at length to explain the process to them, I figure they are going to be nothing but trouble, which is usually how things turn out with most of them. I wonder how they’d take it if a few of us got on a plane and then started making suggestions on how to fly it?
John Z. Tulsa, Ok. – People who call competitors to get a quote on a repair while they’re still in my lobby. There’s always going to be somebody cheaper, always. There’s no balancing act between fair pricing and quality work, it is what it is. What tips the scales is people’s conception as to what it should cost and shops that don’t do their homework as to what it’s going to take to do that particular job. Someday I’d like to beat them at this game. You know, diagnose a job, then, get a quote from everybody you can think of. That way when the customer tells me, “I can get that done cheaper over there.” I can say, “Nope, done checked it out.” Not that I want to be the cheapest mind you, I just want to see them tell me that so and so is cheaper-faster-better when I’ve already checked it out or have a better idea who they are comparing me too. You know, apple to apples.
Sheri, Castle Rock, CO. Customers who come in without an appointment for things like a discounted oil change offer or some other special priced deal we’re offering at the time. While you’re trying to moving heaven and earth to get them in they start complaining about how long it's taking when in real time it’s probably only been about 90 seconds since they walked in the door. Argh!
Z. Drummer - A car brought in for diagnostics, repair and or a drive cycle verification for a state inspection....with the gas gauge on "E".
Bob B. Akron, Ohio – The gas tank is always full when the fuel pump goes bad. Oh, it wasn’t full when they noticed it wouldn’t start, oh no… they thought it was just out of gas of course. But, adding a gallon or so won’t do. Oh no, let’s squeeze every ounce of fuel into the tank that we can by bringing the level up until it runs out the filler neck.
Gary, Iowa – They tell you the hood doesn’t open easily, and there’s a trick to it. You tell them, “You mean go outside and tap on the hood once or twice and it will pop up enough to reach the safety latch?” It ain’t a trick; a lot of them do it, but to some of these aficionados of the car world they are completely shocked that I revealed their secret without the need of a demonstration.
James, Rapid City, Iowa. – Customers that neglect to tell you that the window won’t roll back up or the hood release cable has been rerouted through the front grill with a couple of nuts tied to what’s left of the cable.
Brian B. Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. It’s a giving rule, when a bolt or tool falls and makes it to the floor; it HAS to go to the exact center of the car where you can’t reach it without sliding under it. But, if it didn’t make it all the way through the maze of parts and hoses, it’s hidden in a crevice where even the beam from a flashlight can’t reach it.
Oh the stories we all could tell. What’s really amazing is it doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re in, it’s the same thing everywhere you go. At the time when all this is occurring, it may not seem all that funny to you or the customer, but when you take a moment, step back, and then take that second look, you know, it actually is pretty hilarious after all.
I enjoy the emails, keep them coming. We keep this up, I’m sure they’ll be a “Pet Peeves 3” in the making. Happy wrenchin’!
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A shop about 50 miles from us had a pretty serious accident today (from what I've heard http://m.morganton.com/news/update-fire-destroys-longstanding-morganton-service-center/article_10681852-b225-11e4-a3ba-3ba4f96d61be.html?mode=jqm ).
Luckily it looks like there were no serious injuries but it made me curious about emergency preparedness - how do you guys handle it? Only three of us in our shop so we're always in communication anyway with plenty of exit paths. How does something like this play out insurance wise?
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By Joe Marconi
Many of you know that I write a monthly column in Ratchet + Wrench Magazine. The magazine feature articles on shop management and business related articles. In my opinion, as shop owners we need to read publications such as Ratchet + Wrench. I think too many of us tend to maintain our technical knowledge, but may fall short with regard to the business side of the of running a shop. Ratchet + Wrench has great articles and also feature actual shops across the country.
If you do not subscribe to the magazine, the link is below. And to be fair and balanced, there is another magazine, Shop Owner Magazine that is also dedicated to business, and is worth reading and subscribing to.
Here are the links: