Quantcast
Jump to content


Gonzo

Article: Parts, Prices, and People - - - All three have to be in sinc, or there's going to be trouble at the service counter.

Recommended Posts

Parts, Prices, and People

 

There’s one thing that never changes in the world of auto repair, and that’s change. Every model, every year has some slight difference from the previous one. Even though functionally, the same results are achieved, the newer version will undoubtedly accomplish it with a slightly modified or different component than the older version. The big issue is usually cost of those replacement parts, and sometimes that’s a real shocker to the consumer when they get the estimate for repairs.

 

One rather hectic morning a lady came in with a headlight problem. The diagnostics came to an abrupt halt when the dimmer switch lever was found dangling from the steering column. A pretty straight forward repair, tear down the steering column and replace the switch, then see if there was any other problems down the line. But, it wouldn’t be much of a story if that’s all it was, now would it?

The part in question was not just a dimmer switch, but the entire combination switch: turn signals, cruise, etc… and the part, oh boy, was it outrageously expensive. I’ve had many of these seemingly insignificant components that you would think wouldn’t break the bank turn out to be so expensive. Some people can’t cope with the reality of the cost, and take their anger out at the front desk. This was no exception.

 

When the parts supplier quoted me the price on the phone I was already shaking my head, knowing what was going to happen next. I said to the parts guy, “You know, the price of this part is going to be the deal breaker on this one. How in the world am I going to sell this gold plated dimmer switch to this lady? I know it’s not your fault, and I know you’re just the messenger… but you probably know what I’m going to be dealing with next.” He laughingly answered, “Yea, I know. I get the same reaction from shops all the time… sorry bud, but you know how it goes.”

 

I realize the cost of some of these parts and components is enough to sink a battle ship; it’s just something you have to deal with as the mechanic.. or the consumer. Just to be on the safe side I called all my other suppliers and the dealer parts department to compare prices. Everybody had about the same price, give or take a little.

 

I’d like to think that I’m very sympathetic to the unknowing consumer’s pocket book. I really feel sorry for them, but I just can’t do anything about the cost of some of these parts. At this point, it’s out of my hands, it is what it is. Now the fun part, I have to break the news to this lady.

 

“This is highway robbery. You’re gouging me! It shouldn’t cost that much for a dimmer switch! I had one changed on a car I had several years ago, and it didn’t cost this much! I’m not paying that, I’ll take it elsewhere, and I’m never coming back here again!” said the lady. (You know, I actually expected that kind of response.) Stands to reason when a customer has a thought in their head as to how much something should cost, and you throw a number at them that is completely off the charts, they’re going to go ballistic. Calming this lady down wasn’t going to work, she had made up her mind that this wasn’t right, and was bound and determined to let me know just what she thought of the whole thing.

 

The more I explained, the angrier she got. It’s not like this lady was a new customer, quite the opposite. She had been in several times for other repairs, and I never had a problem before, but now I’ve got a situation that isn’t going to end happily no matter what I do.

 

Customer reaction to the cost of parts is nothing new, typically they’ll make a few calls and find out it’s pretty much the same anywhere they go. Sometimes, they’re so ticked off at the thought of spending that much they won’t come back. Pride I guess. They’ll go to another shop just so they can avoid a face to face confrontation with the original shop that gave them the quote. I totally understand that, even though it does seem a bit foolish.

 

I may diagnose it, find the problem, and write the estimate up, only to have the cost of the part become the dagger that kills the deal. The sad part of it is, there are lots of components on today’s cars that are quite frankly… way overpriced. (We all know it, but again…we can’t do anything about that.) Try explaining the cost of replacing HID headlights and ballast to someone who just came in thinking they needed a new bulb. YIKES!

 

Comparing one car to the next doesn’t work anymore either, and if for some reason a customer calls a parts store and the right information isn’t passed to the counterperson by the caller, chances are the quoted price will be for the wrong application. Nine chances out of ten when that happens the price is likely to be for a cheaper component that doesn’t fit, or is the wrong part all together. Now my job at the service counter becomes even more difficult.

 

As the lady stormed out of the lobby full of other customers she had to spout off one more time about how much of a crook I was, and how she was never coming back. She made it a point to tell all the other customers waiting on their cars that they should think twice about having me work on their cars. Seriously lady, ya made your point… now leave.

 

The next day I got a call from a shop on the other side of town. He said he just had a very disturbing, very demanding lady show up to his shop. (This particular shop is one that I’ve done business with for more than a decade.) He told the lady that he doesn’t do electrical work, but refers that type of problem to my shop.

 

The lady sternly told him, “Well, I just left there. They are way too expensive, and I’m never going back there. So you fix it instead!”

He promptly told her, “Well, ma’am, he’s the best in town, and I don’t do that kind of repair. That’s why we send everything there.”

“Who else would you recommend?” she asked.

“Nobody,” he replied.

“Well I need it done, and I’m not having them do it.”

“I guess then, if you’re not going to have them do it, it ain’t getting done… you’re on your own lady.”

 

I got a laugh out of that one. (Thanks for sticking up for me partner… appreciate that.) Of course, I haven’t seen the lady again. I’m sure she found somebody to change out the dimmer switch by now. But, I doubt it was any cheaper. Parts and their prices will constantly change, and will always challenge our perception of what things should cost. On the other hand, some people’s perception about the prices of car repair… may never change.

 

Click here to view the article

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



  • Similar Forum Topics

    • Customer's buying their own parts

      Hey guys. I'm new to the forum and was looking for this subject but couldn't find it. Sorry If I'm posted something that's already been discussed. I own a brake shop in Austin, TX. We do anywhere from 10-20 brake jobs a day. We only do brakes so I don't know how much full service auto shops deal with this problem but... Customers are constantly calling in claiming they've bought the best parts or they want to provide their own parts because they've done research and know what is best. This drives me crazy. First of all they don't know whats best. Then after being told no they get offended and act like tons of shops allow this. What is the best way to handle these customers? Just send them away? I'll quote them a price using our parts and they act as though its a rip off. What shops are doing this for their customers? I feel like I'm letting jobs get away from me. Any experience with this?

      By Jonathan Ganther, in General Automotive Discussion

      • 78 replies
      • 3,567 views
    • Killer Holiday Tip for your repair shop

      Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating.  One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver.  You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long.  Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on.  Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart.  So, here's what you are going to do.  Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate.  Nothing expensive.  During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do." Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them.  The second thing that will happen is this:  The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first?  Yes...Yours!  

      By Joe Marconi, in Joe’s Business Tips For Shop Owners

        
      • 0 replies
      • 26 views
    • Seeking/open to Partnership for Repair Shop Planning

      Hey All, My name is Karla, I had previously owned a 3-bay mechanical repair shop in Burlington, VT for 6 years and built it to maintain an outstanding reputation and provide a comfortable income. I had the opportunity to sell my half of the business and finalized that deal this past fall. I have worked in all areas of the auto repair industry over the past 15 years, graduated from a two-year ASE certified auto tech program and went on to earn my Bachelor’s in business and a masters degree in executive leadership.  I have some capital I will be contributing to the planning and opening of a new shop and am very open to meeting potential partners/investors in all areas of the country. I greatly look forward to building something new in a location new to me. Anyway, I’d like to welcome all /any interest and to answer any questions about joining forces in shop planning and management. Please do not hesitate to contact me, thanks for considering! —Karla

      By KDshopNEA, in Automotive Business Opportunities

      • 1 reply
      • 284 views
    • Mobile Auto Repair?

      Hello Everyone! Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as I did. I wanted to bring this topic up because of PEP BOYS recent "expansion" into launching their "mobile" service. I was interested in your thoughts. Are mobile mechanics a threat to your shop in any way? What are your thoughts? Do they/can they provide the service that today's cars need? 

      Or, on the other hand, do you operate as a mobile tech? What are the struggles you face. From what I am hearing, people "seem" to expect mobile to be cheaper. 
       
      Only trying to start a discussion about this - and really because, from what I am seeing, there's a lot of buzz around the Pep Boys effort.  Comments? Really interested to know your thoughts.    Matthew Lee
      "The Car Count Fixer"
        PS: Join me on YouTube and check out this totally FREE on-line course I'm offers- "How to Double your Car Count in 89 Days!"

      By JustTheBest, in Auto Repair Shop Management Help? Post Here!

        
      • 4 replies
      • 125 views
    • Do you guarantee results from your diagnostic time?

      I think we all know that diagnostics is the most costly service we provide in the automotive repair business today. In today's automotive repair environment, you need to be selling diagnostics, and getting paid for it. I'm looking for feedback on when things don't go exactly as planned.  Let's say a car comes in and you sell some diagnostics, by the hour, or from a menu. After you complete that work, and you still don't have an answer, do you go back to the customer and sell some more? Do you continue at your expense? If you do go back to the customer, and you have nothing conclusive after that, then what? Do you keep going back and selling more diagnostic work until you solve the problem? If you continue to go back and sell more, how many times can you do that? We've all had that car that we've worked on for weeks to find some strange problem. I doubt many customers are willing to pay for the 40 hours you spent on the car. Now lets say after 5 hours of work that the customer agreed to, you are no closer to finding the issue than when the car came in. Do you charge them for the 5 hours and send them down the road even though you have not provided them with a diagnoses? Do you start spending your time trying to solve the issue because you have a hard time charging for 5 hours and are unable to provide any answers? I'm asking these questions as I am rethinking my business strategy on diagnostics a little. Our shop is known for its abilities to diagnose problems. We have other shops bringing cars to us on a regular basis because of these abilities. I actually get several calls and emails weekly from across the county for help diagnosing problems. There are times, a lot of times, when I think this is more of a curse, than a blessing. I know we are in the business of fixing cars, and we need to be able to find problems if customers are going to keep coming back. But after my lead tech and I spent a considerable amount of time over the last 15 days diagnosing the strangest intermittent no start issue on an Audi, and watching his frustration grow everyday, not because of the difficulty of the issue as we both love the challenge, but because it held him back from addressing the other work that was coming in the shop.  So, as rewarding as it was to solve that mystery, I can't help but look back at what it cost me financially, and the frustration to the technician, and realize we have to come up with a way to try to avoid going down those rabbit holes. Right now my idea is to give it 1 hour. If after an hour, we are not relatively certain that we will find the issue, with another hour or two, then let the car go. Let the customer know that it's not that we can't fix the car, but that we cannot fix it efficiently. If I lose that customer, it would probably still be cheaper that working on his car for 2 weeks. Love to hear your thoughts. Scott          

      By ScottSpec, in Auto Repair Shop Management Help? Post Here!

      • 9 replies
      • 471 views
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×