Times, they are a changin’, and fast! And yet, the basics still hold true: the best tool in our tool chest is still good communication.
Since our industry relies more and more on the Internet, would you say this is a good thing or a bad thing? I think it’s a good thing! The Internet allows us to quickly and easily source repair data, find parts, as well as maintain contact with our peers—all at the touch of a button.
But this powerful tool also has a dark side. For starters, the Internet is the source of a lot of misinformation. It isn’t difficult to find bad advice from non-mechanics, or blogs that are critical of our industry. And while so-called “experts” produce videos on YouTube, others push a service or an app by twisting the facts and misleading the public, just so they can make a buck.
While so-called “experts” produce videos on YouTube, others push a service or an app by twisting the facts and misleading the public.
The fact is, our reputation is pretty poor, both in the media and with the general public. Take these excerpts as an example:
“A few years ago I met a guy who showed me how his shop had its system set up to sell the customer the cheapest brand of something (say, a shock absorber) and bill them for the most expensive. Or, do you really know what a water pump for your vehicle ought to cost? With the Internet, these things can be figured out much more easily. Can a shop legally charge you more for a water pump than you could buy it for on Amazon? Of course! But if they charge you $300 for a water pump that retails for $100—you’ve been had.” – Lehto’s Law
“There’s nothing wrong with remanufactured (used) parts, as long as you’re not paying more for them than you should be paying. In fact, on an older vehicle, remanufactured parts are a great way to get a car moving again and save yourself precious dollars. However, many unscrupulous mechanics will charge you for shiny new parts only to fill your vehicle with old, remanufactured parts.” – Jack Sackman
A few years ago, I wrote that there should be a restriction on selling safety-related parts to unlicensed individuals. In reply, members of a motorycle blog shared their deep wisdom and insight on the matter with one another:
“Dave Redinger (Neighbourhood Mechanic) is an idiot.”
“This guy is a ****ing moron.”
“This guy is smoking some heavy crack twinn.”
“Mechanics nowadays are parts changers—they just throw parts at it until the problem goes away… if the OBD system can’t tell them what’s wrong when they hook their computer up to it they scratch their heads and shrug.”
Finding a fix
These are just a few examples of how the public perceives us, as an industry. The solution? Communication!
Strive to complete a more accurate estimate, perhaps refusing to provide an estimate until you have inspected the car. No more curbside write-ups. Call the customer during the repair, advising them of the progress and repair options, if available. Take photos and attach them to the client’s invoice. Keep a copy in your files.
Remember, repairs are a grudge purchase. No one ever budgets for car repairs. Better still, no one ever owns up to having broken it.