Jump to content


Article: Directionally Challenged - - GPS, phone apps, maps... and you still get lost?

Recommended Posts

Directionally Challenged

These days there are all kinds of ways to keep from getting lost on the highways and city streets. From GPS units mounted in your car, to phone apps that will talk back to you and actually tell you when to turn. There are still the old standby folded maps available at most convenience stores, if that’s what you prefer. But, if technology lets you down, you can always ask someone for directions.

If you think you’re close to your destination and still can’t seem to find it, the best person to ask directions from is … the pizza guy. If you spot a pizza delivery place, just stop in and ask. I’ll bet they know every street in the area.

For some people, finding their way to the repair shop is more than a little confusing. These directionally challenged individuals can’t make it out of their own driveway without getting lost, which has me wondering if all the technology they build into today’s cars is just a way to keep some goofball from becoming a fatality at the next intersection. (Mainly, because they don’t know their left from their right.) Maybe their little GPS voice should try to get their attention by screaming at them, or just go to full out “autonomous control” and drive the car for them. But, I’m sure…even then…they’ll find a way to screw that up too.

About an hour or so before closing one day, I got a call from a guy who wanted to drop off his car. “Sure, no problem,” I told him. This wasn’t the first call from this guy; he’s been calling for days, and every time he calls he must be thinking he’s talking to someone new, because he has to tell his entire story about his car all over again.

Like a lot of these types of phone calls, you never know if they’ll actually show up or not. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes if they do… you wish they didn’t.

In the meantime it was back to work as usual. It wasn’t long before the phone rang again. Same guy, same story… weird yes, but for this guy… pretty predictable.

He asked, “Now, you’re going to be there, right?”

“Yes, I’ll be here, but I’m not waiting all night for ya.”

“Not a problem, I’ll be there on the double,” he hurriedly answered.

Closing time was getting closer and closer. The phone rang again. “Say man, where are you?” the caller asked. It’s that same guy again. I gave him the address (again), and he thanked me and hung up. A few minutes later the phone rang again. It’s him again. “So what are you near?” I gave him the name of the businesses on the corner of the main street and told him we were a block east of the intersection. He hung up again. A few minutes later he called back. “I’m at the convenience store at the corner and I don’t see you. Where you at?”

Again, I gave him the address and told him “again” that we are a block east of the intersection. (Seems this guy couldn’t remember anything.) He would hang up and call back…over and over, asking the same questions.

Finally, after about the 15th phone call, instead of just hanging up, he asked, “OK, so how far “up” the street do I have to go?”

I had stop and gather my thoughts for a second. I really was getting tired of this. “We are east of the intersection. Up doesn’t tell me anything. You need to be a little more specific, the convenience store is on the south-east corner of the intersection. Now go east one block.”

“So I go “down” the street?”

“Which way is down?”

“I don’t know, I’m not from around here.” (Obviously he’s not from around here. He’s probably from some nearby planet or something, maybe one that uses “up” for east and “down” for west. I really don’t know.) Actually, I think this guy could have gotten lost in his own backyard.

Looks like I’ll have to lead this one in. I’m going to have to get creative because this guy doesn’t have a clue which “up” or “down” to take. It’s a good thing we’re not back in the early pioneering days when people crossed the vast uncharted prairies with nothing more than the sun to guide them. No doubt this guy would have been lost on the trail somewhere. At least you’d be able to find him… just look for the buzzards circling overhead.

“Let’s try this,” I told him, while trying to keep my composure, “If you’re standing at the corner with the convenience store on it. You’re only a block away. Just go east one block. We’re on the north side of the street.”

“Is that left or right?” he asked.

“Are you standing in front of the store?”


“Do you see a veterinarian hospital in front of you?”

“Yea, it’s on the other side of the street.”

“OK, you’re facing north, East is to your right side… go in that direction about a block and you’ll see us on the north side of the street… that would be on your left.”

I hung up the phone expecting him any minute… only seconds went by… the phone rang again… it’s the girl friend this time. “What’s that address again?”

Apparently these two were meant for each other. Neither one of them could figure out where they were, or where they’re going. All said and done, it took nearly an hour for these two to figure out how to navigate one city block. (I almost had to break out the orange flashlights like they use at the airports.)

I know I’m not the only one who has run across these “directionally challenged” customers. I hear stories like this from everyone. A good friend of mine who owns a shop just off a four lane highway told me an interesting one. One of his usual (as he put it) wacky type customers walked all the way to his shop to pick up his car after it had been repaired. He paid for the repair, and asked for directions to an address he wasn’t sure of.

He told the guy, “Oh sure, it’s on the main highway about 4 miles south of here. You’ll have to go about a half mile north to get to the nearest place to turn back south.”

The guy thanked him and left. Moments later my friend realized something rather strange about the traveler… he wasn’t taking his car… he was on foot….and walk he did…north to the intersection, U-turned and then south past his shop.

My friend said to me, “Why he didn’t take his car, I’ll never know. The address he gave me is on this side of the highway. Now he’ll have to walk across all 4 lanes of traffic again.”

Repairing cars can be a challenge, and yes… sometimes just getting the job to the shop, or giving directions can be an even bigger one.




Click here to view the article

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Forum Topics

    • The person answering your phone may be killing your repair shop

      A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator.  I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold."  I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?"  No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring.  I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back.  Well, no one did. So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD."  There was silence, so I continued.  I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times,  I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back.  She replied,  "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway."  I hung up the phone and called another company. The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone?  The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business.  Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one.  Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls.  Your phone is your lifeline to future business.  So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone?   

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

      • 5 replies
    • Article: Picture This - Lessons learned, teaching can turn into a lesson as well

      Picture This ---- I learned a little something when I was teaching a little something Picture This   (A lesson learned while teaching)   Years ago my younger brother came to work for me. He didn't know a thing about cars, but was willing to learn all he could. Teaching new techs is an art that most shop owners have to learn to do, but teaching your little brother can be a chore and can test your patience. I muddled thru it all and taught him what I could. I was sure at some point in time the two of us would butt heads like brothers will do, and he would take his new found skills and move up in the rank and files of the automotive technical world, but in the meantime it was his turn to learn from his older brother.   When he first started I would walk him thru each step of how to diagnose a certain system in a car. A lot of times he would have questions, and I'd do my best to answer them. He learned quickly and was really sharp at picking up some of those little details that are harder to teach, because you tend to forget to mention them while you're teaching. Mainly because you are trying to get to the solution as efficiently as possible, and you neglect to bring it up. Such as: "always test your test light connection before testing what you're testing, or don't forget to check for all your tools before you pull the car out of the shop…." Things like that.   One day we had a truck come in with dual fuel tanks on it. The gas gauge wasn't working and needed some attention. This was a perfect opportunity for Junior to learn a few of my short cuts on these old models. It was an older Ford, in which the tank gauge ran thru the tank switchover button. It was rather easy to pull it out of the dash and connect to the gauge from the back of the switch.   Luckily it was the typical problem I've seen a hundred times in the past. The switch connections would melt and the tank wouldn't switch from the front tank to the rear, and of course the gauge wouldn't move either.   After locating the correct leads to the gauge and to the tanks I decided to show him how the gauge worked. I hooked up the one of the tanks to the crossover lead that would supply the signal from the tank to the gauge.   "Ya see this, that's the lead to the fuel gauge in the dash, and this is one of the tank wires. I'll connect these together and we should get a reading on the dash," I told him.   He was watching intently, taking in all the wiring diagram information, the location of the wires, and how I was bypassing the switch. He was fascinated with the flow of the current and the way the gauge would respond. I even went as far as moving the gauge from full to empty by opening and closing it to a ground signal. While I had his attention I filled him in on the two types of gauges that were used back then (bimetallic and magnetic) and how low resistance on a bimetal type gauge would read near a full tank, while a magnetic gauge would read close to empty. Change the resistance and the gauge would/should read accordingly.   "So, if we put gas in the tank the gauge should move right? That way we could check the sending units in the tanks too," he asked me.   "Great idea, grab a gas can and let's add a few gallons," I said, excited that he was so interested in the project.   He grabbed a can of gas and poured a few gallons in the tank. I was watching the gas guage carefully, but there was no movement. I knew I was on the right wires, but nothing was happening. Now what? Are there more problems?   "Crawl under there, and check to be sure the wire color is correct," I yelled from the cab to him.   "Yep, it's the right wire on the tank."   "Well, we might have to pull the tank; it's not changing the gauge readings up here."   "Before we do that let's add some more gas, maybe we didn't add enough," Junior tells me.   I thought I better go back and help hold the funnel, while he poured the gas in the tank. Unknowing to me, all this time my wife (who was the office manager) was listening in on the whole thing. She likes to keep tabs on me, and make sure I'm not going into one of my usual rants or having a fit because I had to explain something over and over again to little brother. This time she was standing at the corner of the shop just behind the truck with a camera. "CLICK", I heard the camera shutter go off and she was back there laughing like there was no tomorrow.   "What's so funny?" I asked her.   "You two idiots have been putting gas in the wrong tank. You're on the front tank, and you're putting gas in the rear tank," my wife answers, laughing hysterically.   About then the camera "clicked" again… this time it was an action shot taken at precisely the exact moment when these two idiots had that dumb struck look on their faces and realized what they just did. The shot had both of us on our knees, one holding a funnel and the other with the half empty gas can, and both of us staring right into the camera lens. Couldn't have set it up any better if you tried. The picture clearly showed the side of the truck with both fuel tank doors visible and there was no doubt which tank we were putting in the extra gas. I guess it was one of those things I should have mentioned when we were checking the tank senders… make sure we are both on the same tank.   For years that picture hung over her desk, and anytime I thought I was so smart she would point at the photo. Usually with that typical smirk, usually shaking her finger at me and of course the laugh… she had to laugh, but it wasn't all that funny until she had me laughing about it too. Ok, Ok, I'm not perfect... and now my little brother knows it too. These days he's a top notch tech at a dealership, and I have to call him on occasions for some help on how to solve things once in a while. Oh the photo… uhmmm… what photo?? Somehow it's missing… haven't seen the darn thing in years. But I guess I really don't need to see the photo … the wife has a pretty good memory... she reminds me just how smart I think I am every chance she gets.    
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 1 reply
    • Cell phone and internet distractions

      How do shops handle the use of cellular phones by their technicians during work hours?

      By cmautocare, in General Automotive Discussion

      • 13 replies
    • Which leads are most likely to turn into sales?

      Hello Everyone, New member here.  I wanted to pose a question to the forum here.  Which types of leads are most likely to turn into sales for you? Put another way, what is your best source for generating new business? I don't want to know how you advertise, I want to know know for example if phone calls are more valuable than web leads, or which types of leads have the highest closing ratio for you? For most people here and in most industries, its unanimous that word-of-mouth and in person interactions are your most likely sales but besides those what is the most reliable? Web leads, phone calls?  And when you do advertise do you push people to the form of contact that your most likely to close? The reason I ask is because I see people just advertise their website with no phone number sometimes or some people really push people to call.  Do you find that people who call your shop are more likely to come in than people who might come from a web lead such as an online form? Thanks in advance for any input.

      By Bruno Tabbi, in Marketing, Advertising, & Promoting

      • 11 replies
    • Giving Prices over the phone is the same as a diagnosis

      A woman called her dentist the other day and asked how much would a root canal cost. Her dentist replied, “Sure, hold on, let me look that up. Ok, that’ll be around $1400 for that job. Would you like to come in and have that root canal done?” Ridiculous scenario, you’re thinking? I agree! A dentist would never give a price over the phone without first examining the patient.   Why do some shops continue to give prices over the phone? Even something as simple as a wheel alignment price can lead the customer and you in the wrong direction. Do you really know the car needs an alignment?   Pricing over the phone is the same as giving them a diagnosis. When a customer calls for a price on a water pump and you give a price, you are saying to them, “Yes, it IS the water pump and here’s the price. And then you get the car in the bay and it needs hoses, a thermostat, and the radiator is leaking, not the pump.   Giving prices over the phone also tells the caller to please judge you on price alone; a road I refuse to go down.   I know this is going to push a lot of buttons today, but my tip today is to resist giving prices over the phone. Get the car into you bay, perform the inspection and/or the proper testing and then when you know what the problem is, sell the job.   We are professionals, no different than the Dentist.   Your thoughts?    

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

      • 54 replies
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors