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About marista

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    PCS Auto
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    Auto Repair
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    Shop Owner
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  1. Up until recently, we were getting our waste oil picked up and were being paid. A few months ago, our recycler stopped paying supposedly temporarily. Was wondering who is getting paid and what company are you using. I am in Northeast (NJ) thanks
  2. Anyone else experiencing a high number of new part fails? We have fails across the board, sensors, window motors, electrical (starter, alternator) and untold number of squeaky brakes. We use ceramic almost exclusively unless it's a cost factor for customers, do new rotors 98% of the time and it doesn't matter which vendor I purchase from - I get a large number of complaints from customers that the brakes are squeaking sometimes in as little as 1 month.?!?!? Brakes are installed properly and greased appropriately. Some weeks we feel like all were are working on are re-dos. In the past, we haven't charged customer for part failures. It's not our fault, but it's certainly not theirs. Big labor jobs would get a labor claim sent into vendor. We hardly ever see anything close to full reimbursement if we see anything at all. After the last few months, partner I decided customers need to pay labor at 50% reduced rate. Again, not their fault - but not ours either. We can't keep doing this without getting paid something for our time. Thinking of adding disclaimer on invoice stating this policy. We feel for the customer, but we can't keep doing them for nothing with such a high rate of failures. Just wondering if anyone else is running into this problem and how you are handling it?
  3. I am loving? this thread. Keep telling my other half that it's like this everywhere when he starts to complain about customers. He thinks he's going to come up with a magic solution. He usually blames me, claiming I didn't explain the repair/wait clearly to the customer - it always seems to be my fault. Then I love it when he implodes when HE has had a conversation with the customer to the effect of we are busy, call you when you're ready, etc. and they call back end of day or next morning asking if it's done. The Great Communicator is having the same problems that I have with customers? I think it's a combination of the lost art of communication - listening is key component. No one listens anymore. Also, the reality we live in- one of immediate gratification. No one wants to or thinks they have to wait for anything anymore. I don't have 6 techs and 6 lifts/bays. There are still only 24 hours in a day (we usually work 12-18 of those as it stands). You can only do so much on a daily basis. No one "gets" it. I joke all the time that they think they can drop their motor sway off at 9am and pick up at 5pm, ready to go. Most think that their car is the only one you have to work on. We schedule by appt only - obviously we have break downs to deal with as well. But we literally pick and choose the customers. I have told people that we can't get them in because they are a known PIA or slow pick up/pay. We have enough good customers that we can do that - a few sneak in here and there - but we red flag them for the future. We already have no personal life and spend more time at the shop then at home, it's getting old and we're tired of the selfishness of people. They need their car because their other car is down and they have practice/work/doctors/interview, yadada. Well guess what? We have those same appointments, errands, etc. that you have and we would like time to do them. We miss parties and funerals and get togethers because we are working on your car. We have a fenced in facility where we keep gates shut and "fake" lock it. Delivery drivers are aware we are here, etc. But we have had customers open gates and even remove the unlocked lock???? WTF? It's crazy. Who enters a facility where the gate is closed without permission?
  4. 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.
  5. Smotgo - it's free. You can use free/trial log in to check it out. smotgo.com - I just had to recently use google calendar bc my other half just likes to argue for the sake of it and insists on using google (so i keep two schedules) he uses it for personal stuff too so it helps he see whats going on across the board.
  6. Sort of off topic a bit - have problems with financial end like most here do - but we are a two person shop - one in the shop and one in the office. Another huge issue we have is friends/acquaintances who think nothing of stopping by during the day to have us "just take a quick look" at something or stopping over to chat. I don't stop at your place of work and interrupt your day/work - why is okay for you to do it to us?!?! I wind up being the b*&^h in the office because many days I am stressed out and trying to move my other half along to get stuff out the door and someone comesup strolling in and I sometimes wind up being out and out rude or give them the silent treatment while I fume inside. The other half can't say no or be rude no matter how pissed he is - so sometimes a huge amount of time is lost. Makes me insane. I am tempted to stop by their office one day or show up on their job site and return the favor. We have a fenced in facility that we have taken to keeping the gates shut and even locked and they sit outside the fence and blow the phone up or yell over the fence. Some even open the gate when we have it "fake" locked! I would NEVER open someones locked/shut gate. WTH! Friend of ours has a body shop around the corner and goes thru the same thing. He has given up and winds up starting his work at 7pm after all the traffic has died down and he can work in peace. But then some jackass sees the light on.... Sorry just venting and would ask for advice on how to handle but know most will just say you have to lay down the law with them and explain you don't have time, etc. - easier said then done.
  7. No, not allowing customer to use bays. This was another member's wording - just using it as an example of some of the methods suggested and that's in addition to labor not in place of it. We also have come to the conclusion that we would like to be more selective with our customers. Basically, weed out those that are a constant issue with regard to pricing or respecting your advice, question everything we do, or have the 'your the last one that touched it, you own it" mentality. However, sometimes circumstances force you to compromise. If none of your "preferred" customers are having issues, you have to bring money in the door. Not thrilled with the idea but as long as we are not losing money and make up the difference lost on the part, I'm okay with that. - No warranty on part and if it fails you pay for part and our time again. That usually sways them to allow us to get the part. And playing Devil's advocate: Some customers who want custom/specialty items installed, exhaust, suspension, etc. If we are installing for them, what's the difference if we install a starter purchased by customer.
  8. I have seen quite a few good ideas here for those struggling with this issue. We will (depending on the part/job) install customer purchased parts - though we do explain to them that we don't charge more than the local retail price so they are really not saving $. Doing this, we sometimes make a decent profit on parts - sometimes not so much, but it usually alleviates the hassle. Some here on the forum have suggested raising their labor rate when installing customer provided parts which I think it a great idea. Someone also suggested a bay rental fee for $35. I like that idea as well. That however is a moot point in the warmer weather months when we can do some of this stuff outside unless you need the lift and then it can be a lift rental fee. The two biggest problems we have with the customer buying the parts is 1) it's not the solution to their problem and 2) it's the wrong part ex. vehicle has two options for brake rotors and they get the wrong ones. This ties up our guys and our bays. Now you are in limbo waiting on them to get the correct part and you have their car so now they're stuck for a ride to get back to the store or you have to wind up ordering it (which you could have just done in the first place!) and the car is still stuck on your lift/in your bay. Basically, if they want to us to install their parts, they are going to have to pay for it one way or another. We have used the increased labor rate here lately. This works really well depending on what state your in I guess - instead of using the regular hourly rate - flat rate it compensating for the lost revenue on parts.
  9. in regard to the "i can't afford to fix the car I had to have" people - I really think new car dealers esp should be required to disclose repair costs associated with even the most mundane of repairs. My favorite is trying to explain to the CTS owner why changing out their $3 turn signal bulb is going to cost them over $100 because we have to remove their bumper. That always seems to go over like a lead balloon.
  10. I run into pricing issues all the time. A lot of people around us call and get pricing on parts so I often have to explain our more expensive part. But I give my parts guys grief all the time - we buy from several vendors and often when I check "my" price and then the retail they are often the same. In these instances the guys will reduce my cost even more - but sometimes the customer can get even cheaper by purchasing online (Advance for ex. 15% off and $25 gift card and even though they are ordering "online" they can opt to pick up in local store!) We used to try to meet local retail prices, but often I am not making any money and esp if the labor is 30 min on repair - I have no choice but to increase part price just to make it worth our while. Many arguments with my partner about the part pricing issue but i think now even he is getting sick of losing money.
  11. For the most part, stopped giving over the phone estimates. If it's for maintenance type work ex. tune up, I'll just tell them it starts at $xxx depending on vehicle. If it seems like it's a high probability they will bring car in - I will price out for their vehicle and call them back with $ and get on schedule. For the "how much to replace a thermostat" - type calls - I flat out refuse to give them a price. Need to see car - bring it in and we'll give an estimate. Most times I ask why they think they need the "thermostat" and their answer usually confirms for me that it isnt the repair that they need even though their father-brother-cousin-neighbor said it was what they needed. I just got real tired of wasting my time pricing out jobs for people who wanted a price on an incorrect repair.
  12. Using Motologic - mechanics hate it. I have an issue with getting too many results when I am searching for information for techs. I was told "less is more" when searching. i.e. searching for water pump - just enter water, otherwise you get everything with water and pump. Often I give up and google it. I love it when I can find what I want and the information is great. It can just be very cumbersome to use at times. Complained and tried to cancel and they lowered my subscription fee for a few months and encourage me to continue to experiment with it. Not sure if we will keep it or not.
  13. I get Duke's outlook here and we will do that negotiating sometimes particularly on big jobs. But we are a small independent shop and it kills me because these same people don't ask Pep Boys, Meineke, Monroe, etc to discount - or if they do they don't get it. It seems like we are "targeted" because we are an independent "mom/pop" and people think it's okay to ask us when they wouldn't ask another shop that same question. Also, everyone wants us to make a deal but it ticks me off when they come in and tell me they paid $800 for a brake job last month and they didn't even call us and our normal price is maybe $300. They had no problem paying $800 out to that shop. We hear it all the time. I'd LOVE to do your brake job for $800 - I'll just triple my normal price. And like Joe - I have a favorite analogy - these people don't go to Walmart - fill up their cart and then start haggling/negotiating with the checkout clerk on the price.
  14. We have this happen all too often. We tell everyone we will call you when it's ready and give us til the end of the day. Some just don't get it! They call every hour or several times a day. Most times I refuse to answer. Some may disagree and say it's not good customer service, but it is ridiculous, time consuming and out right annoying. We have voice mail - so if they forgot to tell us something - LEAVE A MESSAGE! the ones that I call "crack dialers" - ring, hang up, ring, hang up, over and over and never leave a voice mail are on my -"s" list and get special instructions the next time they come in for work. If they break the dont call me, I'll call you rule - they are done. We are way too busy to deal with these types of people. I love the ones that call after they drop off and they are stuck home without a car and call all day with - "i found something online, I think the problem is..." Maybe we should bill like attorneys - charge for every call and every question. That would be awesome!
  15. Mario - share your pain. Same situation here. You look under the hood and you own it for life. Trying to avoid those arguments with customers. They want the cheap fix with cheap parts and labor, don't maintain the vehicle and then everything that goes wrong is supposed to be on us. Extremely frustrating and discouraging.

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