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Turned away a "bring my own parts" customer. How common is it for you?


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Now that we are getting very busy I am sticking more and more to the rules. Biggest rule I am trying to follow is NO OUTSIDE PARTS. Just got off the the phone with a phone shopper, asked for a price on some stuff installed and then when told he couldn't bring his own parts I got a swift, "o, ok thanks." Definitely not sweating it but just wondering how many of you guys out there allow customer provided parts? For those who don't, how many of these do you turn away?

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We are a NAPA Auto Care shop and I know several guys who work for the NAPA Corporate. I've let them bring their own parts in the past, but they are the worst about getting the right parts. We were doing a timing belt job for one guy. We have it all apart and there is no water pump. I call him up and he says, "Oh, you need that." YAA!

 

We are refusing to do the work if the customer wants to supply his own parts. We have had too many issues with poor quality and/or wrong parts that cause delays in the workflow thruogh the shop.

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I know many shops that need car counts and are still feeling the effects of a rough economy. It's hard to say no to a job, any job, at times. So, when a customer arrives at your service counter with a set of pads and rotors on a real slow day, it's hard to say no. But, the truth is, as an industry we are hurting ourselves in the long run. We survive on profit from parts and labor. And what about part quality or warranty? We are still responsible for the job we do. Try explaining to a judge that it was the customer's "Part" and not your "workmanship".

 

And unless you are willing to boost your labor by 50% or better, you are losing big time by installing the customer's parts. Like I said, I know it's hard at times, but we would all be in a better place if we stood together on this one.

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We do not install customer supplied parts. The risks and headaches mentioned above are the reasons we avoid them (tied up stalls, warranty issues, etc).

 

The only time I would ever entertain the idea would be something like performance parts, but there would be a clear understanding about what warranty came with the job. Also, labor would probably be marked up 50% like Joe said.

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I know many shops that need car counts and are still feeling the effects of a rough economy. It's hard to say no to a job, any job, at times. So, when a customer arrives at your service counter with a set of pads and rotors on a real slow day, it's hard to say no. But, the truth is, as an industry we are hurting ourselves in the long run. We survive on profit from parts and labor. And what about part quality or warranty? We are still responsible for the job we do. Try explaining to a judge that it was the customer's "Part" and not your "workmanship".

 

And unless you are willing to boost your labor by 50% or better, you are losing big time by installing the customer's parts. Like I said, I know it's hard at times, but we would all be in a better place if we stood together on this one.

 

Many times due to what parts the customer may or may not have brought can slow work flow down to a crawl. Then explaining the customer that you need to order this additional part becomes a chore because you have already established the "you can bring your own parts" and the customer will not want to pay your parts mark up.

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All great reasons why we need to stay the course and conduct business as professionals.

 

Another story: A customer with an old BMW bought a starter at the local AutoZone. He wanted us to install it. My manager insisted that we perform a battery/starter test first. After a lengthy discussion which bordered on an argument, the customer agreed. The problem was not the starter, it was a corroded starter terminal. But here's the other side of the story; the customer could NOT return the starter to AutoZone.

 

Every shop owner has similar stories.

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As a general rule we do not do it. However, recently I felt sorry for a guy. He had got the old fuel pump out but couldn't get the new one in. I padded labor and shot a price and forgot it. Three weeks later the car showed up what a junker and to top it off he had a used fuel pump. We put it in only to find out the problem wasn't the fuel pump but a locked up engine. This is the mind of stuff you get into with customer supplied parts. They paid the bill and towed it back home but this çould have been a big headache.

 

 

I have experienced issues similar to this. While the customer may agree and "understand" that you did not diagnose the car they still end up leaving bitter due to their car not being fixed like it was your fault or it could have been avoided if they brought their vehicle to another shop.

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I turned away a guy with pads and rotors today. I had more work than I could get done without it.

 

 

I think the hardest thing for me to learn is to get the "OMG I need this job" mentality. Years ago when we weren't doing so well I would pray for jobs, any job! That type of desperate feeling still resonates when customers try to negotiate, or want to bring their own parts. A lot of times I stuck with too many jobs or jobs that just aren't making the margins we need. I guess this why it is recommended to hire an outside person to be a service writer so there is no emotion involved!

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We still take customers who supply their own parts. We let them know upfront there will be a 25% additional labor charge for the service and there is no warranty with the repair. We do always recommend to have the vehicle diagnosed by our technicians prior to installing the part. For the most part though, these customers make up about 1% of our customers so we don't really encounter them too often.

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With the off road stuff I do I see a lot of customer supplied parts. But these are parts you do not get from Napa or any other normal supplier. We offer no warranty on there parts and charge a $25 per hour Bay rental fee for supplying wrong or damaged parts. It's a good incentive to let us do our Job. Truth is sometimes I can not compete with the internet prices. But I refuse to lose money from a bad purchase by someone else.

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Strict rule - no outside parts. I want to be able to guarantee the whole job. Nine time out of ten, the parts are wrong anyway! Say you do put in his parts and they fail, who's going to pay for the labor to get things right? Thomas Jefferson said we should avoid "entangling alliances." Outside parts can only make you unhappy.

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  • 4 months later...

I have been reading stories all morning about installing customer supplied parts. As of January 1, 2015 my shop will no longer install parts purchased elsewhere. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the forums about this issue. I have read your stories and taken your advice.

 

My answer to why we no longer install outside parts is:

 

"We take our craft seriously and we want to warranty the whole job."

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We get more and more people coming in asking to install their parts, or even requesting repairs based upon their own "diagnosis." We tried to do business with them by charging a higher labor rate and offering NO warranty. That being said, the headaches from those customers that provided us the cheapest junk they could buy online (so you have to know the parts were wrong) and them being upset when I pushed their car outside to bring in a REAL customer just weren't worth it. I'm not sure you can charge enough money to make this practice truly profitable. It's tempting when times are lean, but stick to your guns. Even if they're ticked-off for something that's their own fault, they're still ticked-off, and they and probably their friends won't come back... ever.

Edited by thetireshop
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Living in the collision arena all these years I've (we) been use to low or zero parts profitability for many years now, as we pretty much pay the difference when being compensated for aftermarket junk and purchasing and installing OEM parts. Our year end average on collision replacement parts is half the profitability of the repair side of my business with twice the administrative cost on the collision side.

 

When a client shows up with his or her own Alternator I am still making my profit percentage on that job just not the gross sale nor outlay nor data work when in comes to ordering and receiving.

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I tried the "no bringing parts" way. It was short lived. I'm not profitable enough yet to transition. I think the bay rental fee for holding up my lift with incorrect parts is great idea. Or maybe letting them know that if there is a delay with parts, there will be a delay in finishing their car because you will need to move on to the next car. But honestly, it's not that big of a deal most the time. I don't give any warranty when customer supplies any portion of parts. No warranty for correct installation either. Nothing, zilch! It's written on my work orders and I tell them. I don't mind if they get cheap parts as long as they are correct. If the part fails then they pay me twice! But we all know that their aftermarket parts can fall just like the non dealer parts we buy. I offer diagnosis but don't haggle when they insist that auto zone already gave them 1. I don't try to make them feel stupid for listening to auto zone. I simply say "hey, we can start there if you like and see what we have after." Therefore, I get the initial repair and the correct repair afterwards. Same thing with their wrong or crappy new part. Some customers bring their own parts because they haven't been educated on what's different about letting a shop get them versus not. I educate the pace of mind factor so they can weigh their savings now against there potential loss in the possibly near future. Also when they get their own parts I make them get everything like brake cleaner, grease, shop towels, cotter pin, top off fluids, etc. Abd I let them no if I need something else I'll call them. I don't pick up items from the part stores for them. Nor call the part stores on their behalf, nor give cores back before I'm completely satisfied with job. So they must pay their core charges. It only takes a time or 2 that I have to call a person to say a seal is missing or incorrect and "i need you to come from across town to bring me that asap, or I can pick it up for you at a higher markup than I normally would have charged". I do it all with a smile and they usually do return because they like my work and charm, but let me get parts next time to avoid hassle.

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My method is this....i mentally calculate the price they paid for their parts and than i give 2 prices, like this

Your brake job is 489.56 with 24 month... all parts and labour warranty with our parts.

The price with your parts and our labor is 367.88 and there is no warranty on the parts... I think you would be better off using our parts and labor, wouldn't you?

Then they gladly return their stuff!

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