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You Must Read My Response To Being Accused Of Overcharging

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The use of such statements from the un-knowledgeable is a difficult one to deal with as we are all consumers and we all make purchases throughout our days weather a clothing purchase at a local store or a meal out, so the feeling of getting a deal or a good bank for the buck is in the eyes of that consumer.


Now should you have cost shifted by inflating one area higher or charge for something not needed "The impeded hoadie valve removal of built up carbon" perhaps would have been easier for them to understand then a professional working on my car utilizing the most updated modern equipment available to get the diagnosis right we need to be paid for this service needed and necessary, fairly honestly and ethically.


A local shop here offers the free use of any and all of their scan tools and folks actually pull in and play with them and I guess it works for selling work, and then the big independent tire store offers free diagnostics now they need to educate the staff on just how to use the darn stuff as not every car needs a forward O2 and Cat.


Oh well a lingering topic for most shops, but nonetheless a worthy one to start the day with!

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It is indeed a difficult issue. The problem, obviously, is the general public's (aka...consumer/customer's) lack of understanding about how the industry really works these days. The best way I have found to combat this misunderstanding is to explain it in as simple terms as possible to any customers who want to know and I also have found it most beneficial to not separate the diagnostic line item on my invoices. Instead I simply include the diagnostics as part of the repair.


For instance, under the labor charges section of my invoice it may say something like:



scan vehicle for diagnostic codes

replace oxygen sensor - bank 1 sensor 2 (post catalytic converter)



This way the customer can see that the labor charge is for the whole repair and will be less likely to question it than if I phrase it as a separate $100 "DIAGNOSTIC FEE" line item. It also helps to use big technical terms like "catalytic converter" that the customer really doesn't understand. It helps drive home the point that YOU are the expert and they probably could not have figured this problem out and repaired it themselves. This eases peoples minds about paying YOU to do it.


I hope this helps someone else. It has been very beneficial to me to do it this way.

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For years the value of our profession has been under attack and undermined from the inside out and the top down! You know the mass marketers have push the freebies for years now. (thanks AutoZone....EVERYTHINGS free there! Diagnosis, battery install, whatever...may be wrong but who cares it was FREE and they sold a part!)


I guess that strategy depends on the neighborhood. In my neighborhood, doctor visits (ER visit for a runny nose) are.....not paid for by the patient, typically, so it does not always register. I have actually tried that comparison in the past and realized it was absolutely no help.


Customer still just don't understand the concept of diagnosing todays cars and the complexity that can sometimes be involved and the need to recoup for that time as well as having no parts associated with that diag time to help with profit margins.


I think explaining it to them simply but phrasing it "together" on the invoice is a good idea. One less thing for them to nit-pick l after the fact when their brother in law looks at it and says "they charged you how much just to look at it?"


All depends on what buttons work for each customer base.

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I hear this complaint a lot. Being mainly an electrical repair shop it's hard to give an estimate on chasing a wire short or a draw based on, "My brother in-law is a mechanic." type response. I get at least one person a week who doesn't like the cost of diagnostics. I tell them about the same thing Joe told this last guy.

The big difference is the dealership DOES charge for a diagnostic fee, although some of them will hide the cost and not mention it at the beginning. But, you know... they'll get it.



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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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