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Cheap Cigars - - - Cheap car parts, cheap cigars... not much difference


Gonzo

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Cheap Cigars

 

Ok, I’ll admit it, I indulge in a cigar now and then, usually on the golf course, mowing the lawn, or on one of those slow days at the shop. All the cigars come in some form of a wrapper, box, or tube, but for the most part, at first glance, you can’t tell them apart. They all look the same. Some are like fine wine, while others could be compared to a well done steak; then there are those skanky-worthless-should’ve never spent money on type that smell something like moldy grass clippings rolled in rotted onions. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you they all smell like old gym socks that caught fire. (Out of respect for my dear wife I’ll keep from lighting any of them when she’s around… good or bad ones.) One thing I tend to do with everything that I’m involved with is to compare it to the trade that I’m in, cigars are no exception. And, in a way, choosing a good cigar is like choosing good automotive parts. As with stogies and car parts, there are cheap ones, good ones, super expensive ones, and some that are moderately priced.

 

Cheap parts and quality parts look entirely the same in their box or wrapper. From the average consumer’s vantage point the cheaper components most certainly will do the job vs. the better brands. Why? Price obviously. Although asking a pro which one you should purchase might make all the difference in the world. Those discount brands might come in a nice neat package, but it’s what’s in the package that counts. An expert would know right off hand which is a good discount brand, and which isn’t. Obviously, we all don’t want to over pay for anything, but we want to get the best value for our dollar. Hey, I’m the same way. Just as the old saying implies, “You get what ya paid for” it’s as true as ever…and always will be.

 

I’ve spent decades explaining the virtues of quality parts and service vs. subpar parts and service to clients and prospective customers. And, a lot of what I know is from experience. Some understand it, or have already been down the cheap road and ended up with that second trip back to the service center. Others, even with the best explanations given to them, still have to make that journey before the results and their wallet notice the real issues at hand.

 

Of course the other side of the repair business is when I’m asked to look at a car with a problem, and I find the problem is related back to one of those cheap parts someone else installed. One particular part that is extremely common is the ICP on the Ford Taurus (Integrated Control Panel). Since the radio and the HVAC are combined into one unit, it’s not uncommon to find an aftermarket ICP with an aftermarket radio in it. The plastic is brittle, thin, and breaks with just a twitch. Then there are the starters, alternators, blower motors, brake pads, and suspension parts that all have their discount brand versions. And, from first glance…in or out of the box…they look the same.

 

After a few decades and quite a few failed attempts with some of these off brands (not to mention a few new offshore brands just now coming in), I can tell the difference either by brand name, where it was purchased, or just the condition of it. (Needless to say, I’m learning the same with the cigars too…slowly of course.) Now, if after giving my little disclaimer to the customer about a cheaper part, and they still insist on the lower quality part, I emphasize a written disclaimer to go along with the repair. (Better safe than sorry…Mainly because I don’t want to be the recipient of the butt end of the cigar when the ashes start to fall.)

 

So the next time you’re confronted with the decision of whether to purchase a brand name component or a discount brand, ask the expert… your mechanic, before you lay out your hard earned cash. They’ll know whether or not you’re buying a decent part at a decent price, and not just getting a whole lot of nasty smoke in your face from a cheap cigar.

 


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The reason for this article is exactly what you stated Joe. I've been running across a huge number of aftermarket crappy parts in the last 6 months... more than I ever have before.

They (my editors at the magazines) wanted something about aftermarket parts from the mechanics point of view.

 

Can't stand cheap parts and can't stand cheap cigars. Goes hand in hand. LOL

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And it seems the race to the bottom is all-inclusive. There used to be a time when you could count on the quality of a particular brand, now it seems even some well known brands are sometimes no better that the white-box stuff. Maybe there really is just 1 factory pumping out all this stuff, the only difference is the color of the box. At least the factory stuff seems a safe bet...for now.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      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.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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