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OIL CHANGES - To Free or not to FREE

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I feel like a politician the way I Flip Flop on the subject of oil changes.

 

Sometimes I feel that I shouldn't give this service away. Then I go to bed and wake up and think that performing an oil change for slightly over cost is a good way to get cars into the shop. After all, every car needs an oil change several times a year.

 

Then after lunch I feel that if I advertise a cheap oil service then I will only attract cheap people who only want the cheap oil change.

 

After my afternoon cup of coffee I decide that I can not offer a cheap oil service. But wait, What about the check list. If I have a lube tech dedicated to oil changes and he was good with my checklist then I could up sell all the other services the car needs. It's the old throw enough crap against the wall and some will stick routine.

 

YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO.... I can't take all the flip flopping!!

 

The only resolution I can seem to come up with that I haven't tried yes is: A value added Oil Service.

Has anyone done or is doing this successfully?

 

If so what works best?

Free wipers with an oil service?

 

 

 

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Free tire rotation with an oil change. It attracts a customer interested in maintaining their vehicle and gives you a chance to look at the tires, brakes, and suspension.

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Our oil changes are competitively priced, and we use a nice color check sheet that is quite comprehensive. My customers have come to expect this sheet and I sell a TON of additional work off them. Even if I don't make a sale that day, the majority of my regular customers return with sheet in hand to get at least some of the recommended services performed. They were received poorly by my techs at first, after all, the check over takes time, but when the work started rolling back in, they changed their tune. As I stated, there were some growing pains, and we do get some bottom feeders, but the returns have far outstripped the headaches.

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We are not big on doing the oil changes but that is where we can check out the veh.while on the rack and we are not big on the up sell but we do recommend what needs to be done and short comings. On that note it does get us some extra work without being to much pressure sales.

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Free tire rotation with an oil change. It attracts a customer interested in maintaining their vehicle and gives you a chance to look at the tires, brakes, and suspension.

 

This is excellent. Agree 100%. No discounts, just an added service and a chance to look at the suspension.

 

We did a $10 oil change when we opened shop. It really got the momentum going at our location. However, it really, really, really brought in the wrong kind of customer. We sold very little work on these oil changes, and the customer interactions were typically unpleasant. "Just gimme my oil change and hurry up wit it."

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I feel like a politician the way I Flip Flop on the subject of oil changes.

 

Sometimes I feel that I shouldn't give this service away. Then I go to bed and wake up and think that performing an oil change for slightly over cost is a good way to get cars into the shop. After all, every car needs an oil change several times a year.

 

Then after lunch I feel that if I advertise a cheap oil service then I will only attract cheap people who only want the cheap oil change.

 

After my afternoon cup of coffee I decide that I can not offer a cheap oil service. But wait, What about the check list. If I have a lube tech dedicated to oil changes and he was good with my checklist then I could up sell all the other services the car needs. It's the old throw enough crap against the wall and some will stick routine.

 

YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO YES NO.... I can't take all the flip flopping!!

 

The only resolution I can seem to come up with that I haven't tried yes is: A value added Oil Service.

Has anyone done or is doing this successfully?

 

If so what works best?

Free wipers with an oil service?

 

 

 

 

Add Services like xrac said is great. Always COMPLIMENTARY never FREE. You must be competitive with your oil change pricing however advertise making it much much more than and oil change. I would go as far as to call it a "Minor Service" or an "Oil Service" opposed to Oil Change. Do everything you can to differentiate what you are doing from the quicklubes. Yes they are still getting an oil change however they are getting a Complimentary Multi Point inspection (sell the value and benefits of this) and if you want throw in that tire rotation or whatever else you feel is appropriate. Enhanced Oil Service!

 

 

 

Free tire rotation with an oil change. It attracts a customer interested in maintaining their vehicle and gives you a chance to look at the tires, brakes, and suspension.

 

+1

 

Our oil changes are competitively priced, and we use a nice color check sheet that is quite comprehensive. My customers have come to expect this sheet and I sell a TON of additional work off them. Even if I don't make a sale that day, the majority of my regular customers return with sheet in hand to get at least some of the recommended services performed. They were received poorly by my techs at first, after all, the check over takes time, but when the work started rolling back in, they changed their tune. As I stated, there were some growing pains, and we do get some bottom feeders, but the returns have far outstripped the headaches.

 

I've experienced the same. Techs need to know what the game plan is and they need to buy in. Just like a sports team you could have all star players but if they aren't in line with your plays you'll have a disaster on your hands. If you pay your technicians flat rate, think about paying them a nice rate for an oil change. Yes you will lose money but thats what oil changes are they are a loss leader. Make it a culture of inspections on every car every time. If the technicians understand the importance of a GREAT inspection for upselling work then they will perform a thorough inspection AND they are getting paid for it!

 

We are not big on doing the oil changes but that is where we can check out the veh.while on the rack and we are not big on the up sell but we do recommend what needs to be done and short comings. On that note it does get us some extra work without being to much pressure sales.

 

Upselling is a necessity in our business. We have to remember to not put a negative spin on "selling" the customer. As long as you have the right ethics and are recommending needed work then you are doing the right thing. We also have to remember that we are in the industry therefore something we feel is OK for us to drive with say for instance a camber worn tire, loose suspension components, leaky hoses etc is absolutely not safe for our wives, mothers, and children to drive around in.

 

 

This is excellent. Agree 100%. No discounts, just an added service and a chance to look at the suspension.

 

We did a $10 oil change when we opened shop. It really got the momentum going at our location. However, it really, really, really brought in the wrong kind of customer. We sold very little work on these oil changes, and the customer interactions were typically unpleasant. "Just gimme my oil change and hurry up wit it."

 

I have sinced moved away from getting in the wrong customer however when I catch them on the phone or they come into the shop I cringe lol

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This is excellent. Agree 100%. No discounts, just an added service and a chance to look at the suspension.

 

We did a $10 oil change when we opened shop. It really got the momentum going at our location. However, it really, really, really brought in the wrong kind of customer. We sold very little work on these oil changes, and the customer interactions were typically unpleasant. "Just gimme my oil change and hurry up wit it."

Or "just change my oil and don't look at anything else". I have had that. They are great prospective customers aren't they.

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We definitely believe in "Upselling!!!" BUT, you've gotta have a car on the lift to sell 'em anything. We get 'em on the lift with ads for low-priced oil change service WITH tire rotation and WITH Complimentary free safety inspection. If a car has never been in before, we advise the client (we don't use the term "customer") what the car needs, price it, and sell it. Our attitude is that they will DO IT NOW, DO IT LATER, or NOT DO IT. We give them a choice, and ask them if they want us to go ahead and take care of it. And WAIT for the answer. There are so many cars that need a lot of work. We just gotta get 'em in to get 'em done!!

 

P.S. We always give them a print-out of the estimate for any work suggested but not performed. We have had these estimates brought in up to 2 years later wanting to get it done.

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We definitely believe in "Upselling!!!" BUT, you've gotta have a car on the lift to sell 'em anything. We get 'em on the lift with ads for low-priced oil change service WITH tire rotation and WITH Complimentary free safety inspection. If a car has never been in before, we advise the client (we don't use the term "customer") what the car needs, price it, and sell it. Our attitude is that they will DO IT NOW, DO IT LATER, or NOT DO IT. We give them a choice, and ask them if they want us to go ahead and take care of it. And WAIT for the answer. There are so many cars that need a lot of work. We just gotta get 'em in to get 'em done!!

 

P.S. We always give them a print-out of the estimate for any work suggested but not performed. We have had these estimates brought in up to 2 years later wanting to get it done.

 

In my opinion it depends on what kind of biz you run. For me i am looking for as close to my target customer for everyone we accept as an appointment. I need quality over quantity. High ARO lower car count. Most of my work orders and even individual jobs are not something the customer can wait for. Cheap oil changes dont do it for me. If your shop is more general repair with a lot of bays/techs/writers than it certainly makes more sense to get in tons of cars to give yourself and opportunity to upsell. Just my 2c

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We used to do the low cost oil change but like a lot of other people that have responded, we got a lot of the wrong type of customers. Our car counts did increase, but a lot of those customers were only looking for the cheapest oil change around and were not interested in any recommendations, even SAFETY related! I do agree that you do need the vehicle at the shop to even attempt to do an upsell but from our personal experience in the "cheap discounted oil change", it was not very successful.

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Free tire rotation with an oil change. It attracts a customer interested in maintaining their vehicle and gives you a chance to look at the tires, brakes, and suspension.

 

I advise the cutomer to consider a wheel balance and wheel alignment check if and drift,pull or shake reveals itself after the free rotation. I look at the lug studs/retaining nuts for damage and show the customer any missing or stripped fasteners.

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This has been a very insightful forum. Thank you for all the input.

From what I gather the start up or struggling shops use cheap oil changes to get cars in the door. Then try to up sell and gain a customer.

More established shops do not have to do this.

 

I am going to write up a plan that is right in the middle of both the scenarios.

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In my opinion it depends on what kind of biz you run. For me i am looking for as close to my target customer for everyone we accept as an appointment. I need quality over quantity. High ARO lower car count. Most of my work orders and even individual jobs are not something the customer can wait for. Cheap oil changes dont do it for me. If your shop is more general repair with a lot of bays/techs/writers than it certainly makes more sense to get in tons of cars to give yourself and opportunity to upsell. Just my 2c

M-Spec, I certainly agree that we want our "target" customers. I was not implying that we would do the job while they waited. We give rides to and from our shop, and also have Enterprise right across the street from us. Recently we had a 2006 Mailbu brought in by a lady who wanted an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection. After a conversation with her, and after inspecting her car, she agreed to have $3400 in work done. No engine or transmission work. She called someone to pick her up, and her car was ready 2 days later.

 

I believe that everyone gets "coupon masters" that only will get the special, but that is par for the course when you advertise a low priced item or service in any business. One special that I run is something I advertise as the "Hit the Road Special." It includes alignment, oil change, balance and rotation, scan for codes, a/c and heat check, and full inspection. It is advertised for only $129.95, but the very first response was a $920.00 sale, the second was $129.95, and the third was $1880.00. I have found that when they ask for the "Hit the Road" Special, they are planning to Hit the Road and they are ready to invest in their car.

 

All of us here have different business plans, personnel, facilities, and locations. I enjoy hearing from others, regardless of content or subject matter, and will share when I feel it's appropriate.

 

Actually this forum is the only "give and take" that I have outside my own personnel, as I seldom talk with any other shop owners.

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This has been a very insightful forum. Thank you for all the input.

From what I gather the start up or struggling shops use cheap oil changes to get cars in the door. Then try to up sell and gain a customer.

More established shops do not have to do this.

 

I am going to write up a plan that is right in the middle of both the scenarios.

I look forward to reading your plan because I will be "All Ears"........I mean "All EYES!!" I wouldn't say that my shop is a start-up....I have been here 10 years on a 24,000 car count main street in my town. The name of the street i'm located on is Main Street. I also wouldn't say that I'm a "Struggling" shop, although sometimes I can say that I struggle to run it with the precision of an aircraft engine machining and rebuild shop, and with the general goings-on of running a service business. I was in my former town and location for 38 years. I look for small victories every day, and relish challenges and problem solving. We all should strive to learn and achieve more each day!! Thank you in advance for putting your thoughts, experience, time and effort into the "plan" you will present to us!!

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I'll give any customer free oil changes and a hand car wash if they refer me to people. At this time the cars don't drive themselves in. I keep track of where customers come from.I often have to remind my co workers and owners that a customer with an average ro of $79.00 can refer people that have an aro of $475.00. One fellow of many was really pressed for time at lunch for an oil change. In 45 minutes we changed his oil, noted his service needs and hand washed the car. At payment time with straight face i verbally went over what we did and said the total was $1.99. The customer asked me why so little. I asked him HAVE YOU BEEN PAYING MORE FOR LESS ELSWHERE? I thanked him for his business and future referrels. He referred Thousands of dollars of work within the next 30 days! Even my biggest pain in the *** customer referred $50k work of work to us in 2 years. I wash his car personally.

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M-Spec, I certainly agree that we want our "target" customers. I was not implying that we would do the job while they waited. We give rides to and from our shop, and also have Enterprise right across the street from us. Recently we had a 2006 Mailbu brought in by a lady who wanted an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection. After a conversation with her, and after inspecting her car, she agreed to have $3400 in work done. No engine or transmission work. She called someone to pick her up, and her car was ready 2 days later.

 

I believe that everyone gets "coupon masters" that only will get the special, but that is par for the course when you advertise a low priced item or service in any business. One special that I run is something I advertise as the "Hit the Road Special." It includes alignment, oil change, balance and rotation, scan for codes, a/c and heat check, and full inspection. It is advertised for only $129.95, but the very first response was a $920.00 sale, the second was $129.95, and the third was $1880.00. I have found that when they ask for the "Hit the Road" Special, they are planning to Hit the Road and they are ready to invest in their car.

 

All of us here have different business plans, personnel, facilities, and locations. I enjoy hearing from others, regardless of content or subject matter, and will share when I feel it's appropriate.

 

Actually this forum is the only "give and take" that I have outside my own personnel, as I seldom talk with any other shop owners.

I love the special and will use it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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Wow! How in the world you guys in America do such low priced oil changes?

What's your costs?

I think that giving something of no 'real' cost to us during an oil servicing works very well.

for my shop, I give their car a safety inspection & a clean at the end of the servicing.

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Like Frogfinder we offer a complimentary oil change with every referral that results in a sale. I have one customer who has not paid for an oil change in over three years! It works. People love getting stuff for free and as soon as they hear we give the free oil change with referral they are on a mission! They do all your ad work for you.

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Wow! How in the world you guys in America do such low priced oil changes?

"Fracking is how"

 

What's your costs?

"on average i calculate $50.00 parts and labor per car". That's my budjet for each customer to bring me referrals.

 

 

I think that giving something of no 'real' cost to us during an oil servicing works very well.

for my shop, I give their car a safety inspection & a clean at the end of the servicing.

Alway give them something nice to talk about. The car can be repaired but they don't see it. They see the sticker and wash.

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I just booked a oil change that I totally will regret... guy calls up has his own oil. I told him with filter the price will be around the $45 range (he provides his own oil). He hesitated and said, "o forget it I'll do it myself." Super enthusiastically I said, "OK! Thanks have a nice day!" and I hear, "waittttttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On second thought I'll make that appointment." Now the question is do I perform a courtesy inspection for him just because? Definitely sounds like a DIYer cheapy. Chances are its going to be a pain in the ass customer and also someone who won't buy anything. What do you guys think???

 

I should have told him we don't perform oil changes with customers providing oil which is what I normally do. Doh!

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What do you guys think???

 

mspec, here's something to consider.

 

I've attended a lot of trainings throughout my years in the business and many of the trainers

have taught "tips and tricks to quickly determine who the tire kickers are - so we don't waste time

on people that aren't going to buy anyway."

 

Because these trainers were highly respected in the industry, I believed them. It actually made

sense to me. After all, why would I want to waste time and energy with someone who wasn't

to be a sale and help me hit my numbers.

 

Then one day, I read an article by Jim Rohn (now passed). He shared a story of being on a train.

And how he was sitting across from a man with two children that were loud, out of control,

screaming, and really being disruptive. Everyone on the train was aggravated.

 

After Jim listened to this loud noise for about 15 excruciating minutes , he leaned over the

aisle, thinking he could distract or entertain the children to quiet them down.

 

He said, "hi" to the father first. And as soon as he did, the man started crying. Then, the man

started apologizing for his children being unruly.

 

He told Jim, his wife had just died the day before and they were on the train ride to her parents

to make funeral arrangements. He said he knew the kids were loud, but he couldn't bring

himself to do anything about it. There is more to the story. But the reason I am sharing this

with you is:

 

That story changed my attitude about how I view people, in general. It taught me you never

know what is happening in a person's life.

 

What struck me as I read your post is for whatever reason this guy had bought his own oil.

Maybe he likes to work on his vehicle? He may like changing his oil. It gets him out from

under his wife's feet. And maybe he enjoys changing his oil, but as much as he likes to do it,

he decided it's too cold. So, he stopped in to speak with you about it. Hard to say. There

could be any number of reasons.

 

The bottom-line is... we have no idea what people's reasons are for doing things.

 

You get to run your business any way you like. You can help the guy out with his oil change.

And ask him if he would like you to do a courtesy inspection. This saves the mental

gymnastics of trying to figure out if he's going to spend any more money with you - or not.

We don't know. He could be the most connected person in your town. And if you take care

of him, this oil change could turn into tons of business for you. But no one will know

until you get the customer in for a conversation about his vehicle.

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Wow Elon... powerful story.

 

Correct me if I am wrong. I am still finding my way.

 

I want my employees to be in the habit of inspecting cars so we do a simple inspection on every car. It only takes a few minutes and it may save a life.

 

While the tech is inspecting the car and performing the work requested I go into columbo mode. I ask things like "how long have you had the car?" Do you have a regular technician? I also ask at the time of the RO write up: Mr. Jones are there any other concerns with the vehicle? Wipers, oil change or alignment?

 

I have not done so but I intend to post a sign about or free courtesy inspection. I do not like to ask customers if they want the inspection done. I never like to ask questions that people can say NO to.

 

SIGN: In an effort to keep our customers safe and informed about their vehicles we perform a free courtesy inspection.

 

The bottom line is that I do not prejudge my customers and my fact finding tells me how hard to work up selling.

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Good point Elon.

 

I am still of a mind that this guy is a time waster. This person was a call in and actually had to call back to say he wanted the appointment. His exact words were "uhhhh.... I think I'll do it myself then thanks" during his first call. So you are going to perform an oil change on your back in 15 degree weather? Could he have had a heated garage? Possibly. The probability of that is minuscule. There has been a lot of talk about pre-qualifying customers by upfront charges of inspections and full value oil changes. I read an article and spoken to shop owners whom charge upwards of $200 for a 7 Liter Synthetic Oil Change. They call it a "minor service" and perform a comprehensive inspection, top off fluids etc. I am not saying I subscribe to this mentality necessarily however I can understand the mindset. If someone is not looking to spend $30 for an oil change LABOR (Filter is additional) and literally considered performing the oil change themselves in this frigid weather, how likely are they to buy? I agree you can go through 10 of these type and 9 of them will be a bust but 1 will maybe turn out to be half decent and not a time waster. We spend upwards for 45 minutes to 1 hours during an oil service which includes our inspection process. I just don't know if its worth my time investment to mine the good ones out of the time wasters if they even exist.

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Good point Elon.

 

I am still of a mind that this guy is a time waster. This person was a call in and actually had to call back to say he wanted the appointment. His exact words were "uhhhh.... I think I'll do it myself then thanks" during his first call. So you are going to perform an oil change on your back in 15 degree weather? Could he have had a heated garage? Possibly. The probability of that is minuscule. There has been a lot of talk about pre-qualifying customers by upfront charges of inspections and full value oil changes. I read an article and spoken to shop owners whom charge upwards of $200 for a 7 Liter Synthetic Oil Change. They call it a "minor service" and perform a comprehensive inspection, top off fluids etc. I am not saying I subscribe to this mentality necessarily however I can understand the mindset. If someone is not looking to spend $30 for an oil change LABOR (Filter is additional) and literally considered performing the oil change themselves in this frigid weather, how likely are they to buy? I agree you can go through 10 of these type and 9 of them will be a bust but 1 will maybe turn out to be half decent and not a time waster. We spend upwards for 45 minutes to 1 hours during an oil service which includes our inspection process. I just don't know if its worth my time investment to mine the good ones out of the time wasters if they even exist.

Okay, now that you and I both have "Made Stuff Up" (otherwise known as MSU) :)

about this customer and why he bought his own oil...

 

How do you find out if the guy needs your help in maintaining his vehicle?

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Okay, now that you and I both have "Made Stuff Up" (otherwise known as MSU) :)

about this customer and why he bought his own oil...

 

How do you find out if the guy needs your help in maintaining his vehicle?

 

I hear what your saying. For the sake of generalizing for other shop owners, my viewpoint is not ideal I get that. I really hate to assume the worst of people however in my experience I try my best to avoid pitfalls. Time is money and unfortunately if I am getting a bad vibe from a customer then I will immediately assume things based on what I see. When I see a customer try to be pushy and want to do things on their terms without even giving me a chance to speak that sends a red flag. When they have their own oil, red flag. When they don't want to pay someone in the dead of winter to perform an oil service for them, red flag. Lets be honest here, the customer drives a BMW. Not a 1985 toyota corolla. The cost of a dinner in this city can exceed $30 easily. I am just making observations based on my area and my experience.

 

In regards to your question how do I find out if he needs our help? I really don't know. Actually a better answer is I really don't know without wasting my time and my patience.

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I don't do a very good job about up-selling anything at my shop from oil changes but I have found a way to squeak out a little profit from them. Find an inexpensive oil like Advance High Mileage oil and offer it to customers with over 100,000 miles on their cars at a higher price. Many people will pay $15.00 more when they see the sign the recommends High mileage oil for vehicles with over 100,000 miles.

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I hear what your saying. For the sake of generalizing for other shop owners, my viewpoint is not ideal I get that. I really hate to assume the worst of people however in my experience I try my best to avoid pitfalls. Time is money and unfortunately if I am getting a bad vibe from a customer then I will immediately assume things based on what I see. When I see a customer try to be pushy and want to do things on their terms without even giving me a chance to speak that sends a red flag. When they have their own oil, red flag. When they don't want to pay someone in the dead of winter to perform an oil service for them, red flag. Lets be honest here, the customer drives a BMW. Not a 1985 toyota corolla. The cost of a dinner in this city can exceed $30 easily. I am just making observations based on my area and my experience.

 

In regards to your question how do I find out if he needs our help? I really don't know. Actually a better answer is I really don't know without wasting my time and my patience.

 

You just have to understand that these customers cost you money. We are not in the business to work for free. I can see maybe taking care of something little for a customer that does spend money for free, but a customer looking to try to manipulate my repair shop - I don't think so. You don't need those customers. This is one reason why I don't do free oil change services.

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My tech thought I was nuts a few weeks ago because I entertained a guy who looked like he was a little out there. The wood blocks holding up his car made us cringe. Anyway I sold him a couple used tires (carry-out) for like $5 each after some tough negotiating. Time wasted - maybe, or maybe not. He came back in yesterday and brought his friend with him. I was preparing myself for another counseling session when his friend pulled out a wad of cash and bought a car I had for sale. If I had sent this guy packing I'd be a lot poorer today. Moral of the story is you really never know who you are dealing with. All customers are potentially good customers. Honestly I can count on one hand the customers I had to fire, they beat me until I quit them. The rest turned out OK. The cheapest coupon clippers don't usually come to me anyway because I don't offer any coupons.

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At age 6 my Dad opened a NAPA AUTO PARTS store. When I was about 10-12 years old, which would have been 1964-1966, a customer needed a fuel pump to carburetor line. I cut some copper tubing for the fuel line, slid 2 inverted flare fittings on it, and flared both ends. The total charge to the customer was 50 cents. After he left. I complained to my dad that I did a lot of work for only 50 cents. My dad replied that the man who spends 50 cents today may spend 50 dollars tomorrow. After he enlightened me, I did start looking at it differently, and still think about it today.

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At age 6 my Dad opened a NAPA AUTO PARTS store. When I was about 10-12 years old, which would have been 1964-1966, a customer needed a fuel pump to carburetor line. I cut some copper tubing for the fuel line, slid 2 inverted flare fittings on it, and flared both ends. The total charge to the customer was 50 cents. After he left. I complained to my dad that I did a lot of work for only 50 cents. My dad replied that the man who spends 50 cents today may spend 50 dollars tomorrow. After he enlightened me, I did start looking at it differently, and still think about it today.

 

That is a good way to look at it, but I think it is a lot different these day. There are just way to many people out there that keep searching for the $0.50 deals. They will bounce from shop to shop always looking for the cheapest price. These are not the customer's I search for. I want the customer's that understand what it takes to maintain a vehicle properly. I have realized that you don't have to give away cheap or free services to gain new life-long customers. I would say if I were a newer company, you may have to, to get noticed and get your name out in the community.

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