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How do you turn "projects" or hard diagnostic problems away or into $$$?


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Wanted to get your take on this...

 

We seem to get a lot of decently tough diagnostic work. This ranges from Engine issues, electrical, unknown collision damage etc.

 

We are more than capable of finding out most issues however with diagnostics there never is a flat rate. As we know, people HATE HATE HATE buying something that isn't tangible. Repairs alone are something they can't necessarily feel or touch. Diagnostics is a step lower on the ladder where us as repair shops are not repairing anything, just finding out what the problem is. We find sometimes it takes us hours maybe days to track down a problem. If we actually charged true time spent on a vehicle sometimes ROs can come out to the thousands. How do you go about selling and billing this?

 

I've had customers authorize block times (3-5 hours of diag time) with mixed results. If we still don't find the problem within that time no matter what they agree to they are down right pissed off about paying anything even after being fully aware that there is no guarantee. Maybe they were the wrong type of customer in the first place I don't know.

 

I find it becomes more of a burden than good business to work on these vehicles. Are these hard diag problems worth just passing along? How do you go about doing that without coming across to the customer like you don't know what your doing?

 

 

I contemplate every day how I can just run a suspension/alignment/brake shop and get consistent business LOL. That would be heaven sent!

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We just had a BMW 5 series in with similar issue. No start out of the blue. I accepted the job because it's a good customer and I figured the fuel pump was bad. After about 5 or 6 hours of tracking down each code I came to the conclusion that the Theft Module wasn't sending the drive authorization to the computer. Of course the module is dealer only and needs to be programmed so I sent the car back out on the hook to the dealer because I wasn't 100% sure if the module was bad or there was another issue I was ignorant about. The customer was OK with it and the dealer did replace the module and the car was back on the road. Even though my diagnosis was correct I didn't charge the guy anything except the standard one hour fee.

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This can be a serious headache in some situations. We've had several jobs that had days of diagnostics and research. They turned out to pay only 4 or 5 hours as we couldn't see charging these people thousands of dollars. These have made some of our best repeat customers though. On the other hand we've got a regular dealer who sends us only the tough jobs and nearly every time, we're able to bill every hour spent to get the repair done.

 

There's only been a couple of jobs we had to turn away and tell the customer the car just isn't worth the can of worms this one repair is going to open up.

 

I tend to estimate high. Assume the worst case scenario and add a disclosure to the estimate that we cannot guarantee. If the customer still insists to move forward we'll take the job on. This has really been our only saving grace but it took those two worst case scenarios to come to this method of handling diagnostics.

 

Anymore we have more headache in this area from the people who think they are going to come in for free diagnostics, that we'll tell them what 's wrong and they can then attempt DIY repairs. I send them to AutoZone.

 

~Heather

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Thanks Heather.

 

 

I have tried the disclosure portion of the bill and have had customers sign and verbally agree to my term however they still leave sour OR try to not pay the bill because "their car isn't fixed." This can be very frustrating... almost as frustrating as customers who try to negotiate the bill after they have authorized all repairs and repairs have been completed.

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  • 1 month later...

I feel as shops, if we don't find anything at all we shouldn't charge the customer. With that being said, if you look closely enough you can find something. if it comes down to "the pcm needs reprogrammed" then i tell customer we need to start there. Once reprogrammed then we continue checking the other systems. Its all in the wording. There are rare occasions that i have to ship something bc am stumped. Id rather fight my way thru even if take hit on a part that didn't fix it...bc in the end i will have gained the knowledge for the next time. I truely the most money to be made is in diagnostics. Commit to learning new techniques and doing it right and it only gets easier.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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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.”
      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?
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      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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