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Love this. Had a customer this past Saturday that gave me fits. After he authorized some diag work ($380 to be exact) for us to remove the intake manifold off his 650i to investigate an engine noise, the next day he had a huge problem with the charges. We had discussed and he even acknowledged he gave the OK to do the work even with no guarantee of the problem being found. We talked to him the whole step of the way but because he was now out $380 on something he agreed to do he didn't want to pay. Long story short he says to me, "I understand that you have to charge a diagnostic fee. I also understand that if you find the problem, the diagnostic fee should be waived." WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!! This is after 30 minutes on the phone with the gentleman trying to make him understand any and every which way. Just one of those you can't help, ended up charging him a $100 service fee and sent the car on its way. Can't wait til he calls back wanting help again but by then the car will probably have imploded.

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Great article. All NON automotive repair shop owners need to read this article so they can understand why there is a charge for diagnostic work. Project M Spec, we have run across those type of customers at our shop as well. It seems as though some dealerships charge in this manner where if you agree to do the work with the dealership they waive the diagnostic fee. When customers hear this they think all shops are suppose to operate in this manner.......

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Firstly, a truly awesome article, Joe, and just the kind of material that we find pertinent to our own situation. Looking forward to many more and thank you so much for sharing your own hard earned knowledge, experience and skills. We admire you for your dedication to not only the growth of the industry, but also, that the next generation taking on this unique, profitable, yet extremely difficult industry, have the tools and mentoring to survive and thrive well into the future.


Secondly, I absolutely love R+W. It is my favorite read. We (the entire family, all in this crazy business) read it from cover to cover and keep the back issues for reference. If only there were a publication like it dedicated to shop owners and managers back when my husband and I went from working in, to managing and owning the family business in 1982. Though there had already been 52 years of experience before us, from his grandfather and father,by then the economy and demographics had already started to change.


Around 2005, when we finally decided to expanded,once again we found ourselves facing a new economic climate. With the opening of our second store, we finally had access to the information and knowledge from people who truly knew and understood this business. In late 2008 the new shop opened for business and the articles from R+W and ASO have made a real difference toward success and moving on to the next goal for another store.


So, thanks again to Joe and to all the people here who make access to knowledge, information and resources possible!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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