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Sure, I should pay for your choices...


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Just felt like writing about a recent customer experience.

A week ago I recieved a call at 8:30pm (office phone was fowarded to my cell) and it was a lady saying she needed help repairing her vehicle. The vehicle is a 2005 Saturn Ion and she's already paid twice to have it repaired. The first time was by her son-in-law who works at Advanced auto. He scanned the car and replaced the drive-by-wire throttle body which cost her over $300. Since repair number one did not fix the problem she took it to Saturn who replaced the pedal assembly. This was also very costly and still did not fix her problem. So now is when I recieved the phone call and the fun begins.

 

She tells me she is a single mother of 2 daughters and only makes $10/hour. Though I somewhat feel for her I really don't see why I need to know this information. I promise her I can fix the vehicle but since I have not seen it I have no clue what it will cost. After recieving the vehicle I find that the old throttle body and pedal assembly are in fine working order. Turns out the wiring harness is damaged and it also burnt up some capaciters in the ECM.

 

After calling her she says she doesn't have money to complete the repairs and cries to me because she doesn't even have the money to pay me for my time and it's my fault apparantly... I really do not understand how people will blow hundreds of dollars on bogus repairs and then cry to a shop that can actually fix the problem, and then want them to do the work for peanuts. Feeling for the lady, I offered to give her a 1999 Mercury Couger with very low miles and excellent condition for FREE and her response was, "well that's not the kind of car I want." I almost just hung up on her... Next she says she's going to have her friend come and get the car and she'll pay me for what we have in it when she saves up enough money... After explaining that we can not do that and the bill must be paid first all of the sudden I'm the bad guy. The lady is a chain smoker and If she didn't smoke for a week or two she could easily pay the bill with us.

 

So now this vehicle has sat on my lot taking up space for the last 2 weeks and I'm very frustrated. So I guess I'd like to know if anyone can explain to me why people believe that competent shops should have to pay for poor choices that vehicle owners make? This lady even asked me if I'd total the car for her since she has full coverage LOL!

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Sorry you have to go through this, it's really not funny (i did "like" your post) when customers expect us to fix their problems.

I suspect, pretty soon we will be forced to run a credit on the customer before starting the work on their car :(

Never mind, i hope it will never happens. But seriously, you knew when she stated talking about how poor she is, it was a red flag. Phynny, you are a good guy, but instead of offering her a car i'd have started charging her for storage (i really hope you do) the next day it was not paid and picked up. I know, to some I sound like an ahole, but most people like that needed some tough love from their parents, not to grow up dependent on others. If it's apparent that I am rambling, it's only because I had a very similar situation this morning and I am still fuming.

Just wondering what was she driving before the Saturn, since she rather drive nothing than something for free?

Edited by nmikmik
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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      Auto shop owners are always looking for ways to improve production levels. They focus their attention on their technicians and require certain expectations of performance in billable labor hours. While technicians must know what is expected of them, they have a limited amount of control over production levels. When all factors are considered, the only thing a well-trained technician has control over is his or her actual efficiency.
      As a review, technician efficiency is the amount of labor time it takes a technician to complete a job compared to the labor time being billed to the customer. Productivity is the time the technician is billing labor hours compared to the time the technician is physically at the shop. The reality is that a technician can be very efficient, but not productive if the technician has a lot of downtime waiting for parts, waiting too long between jobs, or poor workflow systems.
      But let’s go deeper into what affects production in the typical auto repair shop. As a business coach, one of the biggest reasons for low shop production is not charging the correct labor time. Labor for extensive jobs is often not being billed accurately. Rust, seized bolts, and wrong published labor times are just a few reasons for lost labor dollars.
      Another common problem is not understanding how to bill for jobs that require extensive diagnostic testing, and complicated procedures to arrive at the root cause for an onboard computer problem, electrical issue, or drivability issue. These jobs usually take time to analyze, using sophisticated tools, and by the shop’s top technician. Typically, these jobs are billed at a standard menu labor charge, instead of at a higher labor rate. This results in less billed labor hours than the actual labor time spent. The amount of lost labor hours here can cripple a shop’s overall profit.
      Many shop owners do a great job at calculating their labor rate but may not understand what their true effective labor is, which is their labor sales divided by the total labor hours sold. In many cases, I have seen a shop that has a shop labor rate of over $150.00 per hour, but the actual effective labor rate is around $100. Not good.
      Lastly, technician production can suffer when the service advisors are too busy or not motivated to build relationships with customers, which results in a low sales closing ratio. And let’s not forget that to be productive, a shop needs to have the right systems, the right tools and equipment, an extensive information system, and of course, great leadership.
      The bottom line is this; many factors need to be considered when looking to increase production levels. While it does start with the technician, it doesn’t end there. Consider all the factors above when looking for ways to improve your shop’s labor production.
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