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Tough One


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I'm not one to fuss and complain (unless you ask my wife), and I sure hate to talk bad about a product.

I've got to be honest though something is happening with advance auto and product quality. Maybe product quality as a whole.

Our town has 3 non oem stores, AAP, NAPA and a small local store. The local advance stocks more parts and their much more efficient and organized than the local napa.

Recently I've filed 5 labor claims to Advance.

1. Starter on pontiac vibe, installed and randomly clicked with no start. Installed a new one, today customer calls back its been clicking two weeks now it wont start at all. (Starters 3 weeks old) (3 labor claims)

2. 98 astro radiator - first one bent in u shape when I opened the box, installed second and it had 3 pin holes that were found in vacuum filling.

3. Same astro - new fuel pump for level sensor now the pumps drawing high amperage and vehicle will occasionally not start. Not filed a claim yet - still intermittent failure and not confirmed.

 

Obviously the staff has been very helpful yet they say "no one else is having problems" but thats not what I'm hearing around town. The staff at the store is the reason we've haven't gone elsewhere. They're great to work with.

Anyone else had any issues? Looking like a real idiot to my customers and of course we go above and beyond to handle it but its a consolation prize if anything to the owners.

I personally diaged all of the issues myself and I feel confident in the diags.

Any input is greatly appreciated!

 

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Edited by ncautoshop
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Installed a steering rack from Worldpac on a Toyota Avalon last week. It was not an OEM brand, it was aftermarket. New, not a rebuilt. After the rack was installed and aligned, the steering effort was noticeably more than before. I explained to the customer it might be just that the rack is new and needs to break-in, and that the old rack was old, worn out, and leaking. In the back of my mind though, I couldn't help but think I wouldn't have encountered this problem if I had used an OEM part.

 

I know it's not a 'Tough One' brand like you mentioned, but I'm finding out aftermarket parts are starting to be more and more a gamble. Like you said, they can reimburse you for the labor all day long, but that doesn't keep you from looking like a jack@$$ when a customer has to come back for the 2nd or 3rd time.

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Installed a steering rack from Worldpac on a Toyota Avalon last week. It was not an OEM brand, it was aftermarket. New, not a rebuilt. After the rack was installed and aligned, the steering effort was noticeably more than before. I explained to the customer it might be just that the rack is new and needs to break-in, and that the old rack was old, worn out, and leaking. In the back of my mind though, I couldn't help but think I wouldn't have encountered this problem if I had used an OEM part. 

 

I know it's not a 'Tough One' brand like you mentioned, but I'm finding out aftermarket parts are starting to be more and more a gamble. Like you said, they can reimburse you for the labor all day long, but that doesn't keep you from looking like a jack@$$ when a customer has to come back for the 2nd or 3rd time. 

Exactly what keeps happening.

Employee picked up a new starter, we did some testing and verified it had to be a starter issue. Installed the new starter and it just clicked, retested and found that the b+ side of the starter had battery voltage with the key turned, the signal wire had voltage and we used a load pro to verify a consistent voltage under load, next I checked for voltage on the motor side of the solenoid....no voltage.

Waited for around a hour and half for them to get one from another store. It tested fine but it was to late to install it and complete family obligations. Really had hoped to have this customer on the road today. I guess I'll go in tomorrow and finish it up. Makes me feel like crap. She wrote a very nice review and recommended some of here friends. While I know I cant change these circumstances it still makes me feel bad!

She hasn't been upset at all, but I know she missed her dads birthday for it.

 

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We installed a few new "Tough One" starters and alternators from Advanced about 6 months ago.  We immediately had problems and do not use them now.

Good to know im not alone!

The staff have been more than helpful! They've done everything possible and then tried every option to help! I appreciate their commitment but it doesnt help me look better. I guess the best practice is to really make sure I support my customer every way possible.

 

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We installed a few new "Tough One" starters and alternators from Advanced about 6 months ago. We immediately had problems and do not use them now.

Holy smokes. Just installed a Tough One this week and had the same problem. Starter would only work half the time. The rest of the time it jammed before hitting the flywheel. Glad I'm not alone on this either.

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Spoke with a rep today who admitted this is a very large scale problem in the alternator and starter line. They also said that shops that have jad problems need to inform their CAM so the motions needed to reimburse youbcan be taken

 

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No need to reimburse me because I won't use your product!  I learned with their Worldwide line of starters and alternators.  I only use AC Delco, TYC, Denso, Bosch, etc. 

Our market wont support those prices unfortunately. Everyone around here are hardcore price shoppers. Atleast from my experience.

 

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Our market wont support those prices unfortunately. Everyone around here are hardcore price shoppers. Atleast from my experience.

 

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It's all in how you sell it. Advise the customers to go with the better parts. Give them the option with a fair warning that they might end up making 2-3 trips back to your shop to finally get it fixed right.

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But your market will support you doing the work over and over and over .....

I know you said you get labor reimbursement but what about diag time, service writer time, etc. I use quality parts, charge my matrix mark-up and  labor. If I go used parts or econo I make sure it is clearly understood by the customer that is their decision. If I have to redo one then I will submit for reimbursement but not worry because I made a reasonable profit up front. Maybe you could offer your customers the option of quality or economy....labor stays the same. Then it was their decision if/when it craps out. 

We offer those options, alldata manage actually makes that very easy. We brought the matrix down a touch for oe parts or the high end parts. We typically never sell the more expensive job. They would rather you change parts over and over. In the past year I've called around and found out what I could. We've determined that all but 4 non-dealer shops operate with a 10-15% markup on parts from advance auto and rarely offer dealer parts. Dealers here work to push indy shops out and offer horrible service. We do have a dealer delivery service from about 50 miles away, but parts dont arrive till next day at best. $40-60 average labor rate. Customers here honestly believe this is how the industry works lol. Not saying your wrong, just saying this area doesn't always cooperate with conventional practices. I'm slowly working my way up to the business I want, not the one they want (prices and part quality).

If they dont accept it I'll find another line of work lol!

 

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Our market wont support those prices unfortunately. Everyone around here are hardcore price shoppers. Atleast from my experience.

 

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That's unfortunate, in my area there is a independent chain that sells these quality parts and I get them at cheaper prices than most of what Advance Auto Parts, NAPA, CARQUEST, etc can sell them to me. I truly will not use these products because they have caused me WAY TOO MUCH of my shops time. That time will eventually add up to be a lot of lost revenue. I don't know your market and I won't pretend to but you may want to take a second look. Revamp yourself and serve your higher end customers if possible. I will not bend to price shoppers anymore. If you have work done at my shop, it will be done once and correctly the first time.

 

Just read your last post, 10-15% mark up!!!!! How can you survive or even make a profit? I honestly don't think we can help you here. My shop would not be open with 10-15% mark up on parts. You sell a part that costs you $100 for $110-$115?

Edited by ATSAutomotive
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That's unfortunate, in my area there is a independent chain that sells these quality parts and I get them at cheaper prices than most of what Advance Auto Parts, NAPA, CARQUEST, etc can sell them to me.  I truly will not use these products because they have caused me WAY TOO MUCH of my shops time.  That time will eventually add up to be a lot of lost revenue.  I don't know your market and I won't pretend to but you may want to take a second look.  Revamp yourself and serve your higher end customers if possible.  I will not bend to price shoppers anymore.  If you have work done at my shop, it will be done once and correctly the first time.

 

Just read your last post, 10-15% mark up!!!!! How can you survive or even make a profit? I honestly don't think we can help you here.  My shop would not be open with 10-15% mark up on parts.  You sell a part that costs you $100 for $110-$115?

Oh I agree completely, I've worked on coming uo on price all the way around but I was speaking on other local shops. For years I was at 45% across the board and have within the last year switched to a matrix thats pretty common. About 50% of our cost of goods sold set at 60% or higher markup with a minimum gpm of around 50-55%.

We're all small shop working on growing but find ourselves undercut by competition. Now I'll admit we catered bottom shoppers for years and we've only recently moved away from working for them so my view might be slightly tilted. Most customers we used to see would push a vehicle to the point repairs were more than the worth of the vehicle. Now we're seeing some newer cars and folks more apt to go for a bigger job. We've not really changed much as we're working on our business plan and intend to start improving with a goal and plan and to work the plan in stead of fighting blindly.

Our local dealers are all at $70 hourly rate and we're currently at 65 and look to start working up first of the year. We really don't have many part options for same day delivery so we're also looking at ways around this! Really appreciate your input!

 

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In order to achieve 50-55% Part margin you must be marking up atleast 100% on stuff or you wouldn't even be close. (Just want to make sure we are on the same page) I can't believe your dealers are only at $70/hr. Are you a very rural farm area or how would you describe your sales area?

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In order to achieve 50-55% Part margin you must be marking up atleast 100% on stuff or you wouldn't even be close.  (Just want to make sure we are on the same page)  I can't believe your dealers are only at $70/hr.  Are you a very rural farm area or how would you describe your sales area?

We're actually a college town.

I'm not sure why pricing has held low so long. As I mentioned before one shop that quite popular is at 40 an hour. Theres some that I'm sure are higher. One of the smaller chain stores is the highest at 80 an hour. Im not really to worried about others seeing my matrix. I've really struggled thinking its too high but our good customers dont seem to mind.

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  • 1 month later...

I know I do not own a shop, but I do plenty of side work (legitimate, I report it and have a business with insurance, growing a clientele to one day hopefully make the leap), and my rule of thumb is to not even get involved with the price shoppers. I give them my price and that is that. If they insist on providing their own (cheap) parts, my labor rate goes up a bit to absorb the part profit loss and I make it very clear, and have it written very clearly on the receipt they receive, that I do not warranty their part nor cover the labor of replacing it due to premature failure of said part.

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I had similar quality issues with a local supplier. It happened to be mostly on starters also. I let them know of the quality issues. They said no one else in town is complaining. They did not address my concerns and we buy some were else. I do not like to have to do a job twice. It happens from time to time but to me quality is the key. I want my customers trust and feel like I will do what is needed to earn that. We do not install customer provided parts unless its a wiper blade, bulb or maybe a hard to find part on a classic car. As far as parts matrix goes well every shops overhead is different. That should dictate your matrix not other shops and what they charge. You need to charge enough to stay open pay the bills etc.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Go read the story "Cheap Parts - Cheap Cigars" Been down this road a lot. I tell all my customers that I only will sell AC Delco, Bosch, Motorcraft, and a few other brands. I do have a few off brands that I'll get but, I also tell them I don't like using them. I'll give the customer the break down on the warranties and most of the time they'll go with the better brand.

 

Some customers see the warranties offered as an indication of quality. When in fact it's just bait on a hook. They get ya to buy it and then replace it and replace it and replace it. That's when I tell them the part cost and my labor time are not associated in anyway. If the unit fails I'm doing it all over again for a price...not for free.

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Being 30 minutes west of NYC I am very fortunate to have good parts availability. As far as starters and alternators any that are purchased from the parts stores seem to be reman with inferior parts hence they do not last. Nothing is worse than a customer getting stuck because of the cheapo part. The original lasts 150k, 10 years maybe and the cheapo one goes bad in a few months. Not good for my reputation. I am fortunate to have a suppler of new OE starters and alternators. It is his only business and ships worldwide carrying automotive, medium and heavy truck, heavy equipment basically anything that has a starter or alternator. I have only had one comeback that I could remember and I think it was damaged out of the box, like it was dropped hard. Now that is quality! Also what I like is they are small business and independents like us. If you can wait they can ship. Here is a link to their website https://www.therobson.com/page.php?view=about-us. .

Edited by Gary A
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If at all possible I only use Oem electrical parts, I know for a fact because I've tracked it that if I use a tough one or any other aftermarket junk it will be back to the shop within a year and a half to two years. Failed. It does take a little extra time but I'm totally up front with the customers. I tell them for a little extra money they can have a genuine Oem part in which I never have problems with. And anymore it's not just electrical parts, racks, brake calipers, radiators, it's all junk and seems like it keeps getting worse, I put a set of Moog upper and lower balljoints in a 4wd Dodge truck one month ago, the guy took it to another shop to have it aligned and they couldn't align it because the lower balljoints were so sloppy, The brake calipers are a joke from Aap, cradles that are wrong, hardware that doesn't fit, rotors that are machined wrong, I started making a list in a notebook so I could give it to my salesman. I get so pissed off because I watch all of the guys leaving the parts store at 5 pm and I'm there till seven replacing defective parts for free.

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
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