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The Customer Clinic – Part 1

By autotech-nath on May 2, 2018

Not too long ago we asked you on Facebook what your customers do or say that really #grindsyourgears, and the responses came thick and fast!

We had all the classics from ‘The parts are cheaper online’, ‘I’ve had a look on YouTube’ and ‘My mate’s a mechanic’ all the way through to ‘Since you serviced my car…’.

Let’s not forget the customer JJ’s (just jobs) and the fact that you all have this laptop that tells you what’s wrong and what to replace in 5 minutes… I mean come on folks, it’s not that hard is it. Because of all the computers and technology at your disposal, being a technician is now easier than ever!

The automotive world isn’t unique when it comes to infuriating customers, but in our trade they can be as ridiculous as a membership to the Flat Earth Society and strangely devoid of any sort of logic or self-preservation.

None of this is new to you, so why am I writing this? Well, when you look through the comments there are consistent themes that emerge and you all experience essentially the same frustrations. Why do customers look up the prices of parts? Why is mentioning that they know a mechanic important? Why have they already had a look online to try and figure out what’s wrong? And last but not least why do they think that you have a magic computer that fixes things? There are more of course, but you know the score. Instead of writing things off as ‘just the way it is’, let’s see what we can do.

In this series of articles, I will endeavor to give you some ideas on how to deal with these situations.

Starting with PARTS – as a good technician it’s infuriating when a customer is looking online for prices and questioning the cost of your quote/estimate. Why would they want you to fit parts that are so cheap any person with an ounce of knowledge would question their quality, durability and specification? Let’s be brutally honest too – as a business you need to/should make a fair profit.

Let’s assume that some of your customers do this because they actually don’t understand. They don’t know that all parts are not created equal or what the implications are to their vehicle and personal safety.

There will be some people that simply don’t care – but you won’t win them all.

When it comes down to your business/workplace, by agreeing to these requests to scrape the barrel on cost, or fit parts the customer has arrived with on the backseat of their car, this has implications for you too.

So, here are some points that can help you to create a ‘Customer Parts Promise’ which you can add to your website, social media channels, or to create a good ol’ fashioned leaflet or poster:

As a business we will not fit any parts to your car that are of sub-standard quality or in any way not fit for purpose. We also won’t fit parts supplied by customers. You may well know a workshop that doesn’t mind doing this, but when it comes to your safety and your vehicle functioning exactly as it should we WILL NOT compromise.

This ensures protection for you, your family, your vehicle and other road users.  

 Here’s some further information: 

  • OE (Original Equipment) parts are produced by leading manufacturers for vehicle brands, to their precise specifications, and fitted to the vehicle on the production line. They are of course exclusively fitted by main dealers during routine servicing and repairs on their vehicles. OE parts are what your car was born with and we recommend that they are used wherever possible.
  • OE ‘Matching Quality’ parts are produced by leading manufacturers using the OE part as a specification template. These parts are of the same or similar quality as OE and often a more economical alternative. Under EU ‘Block Exemption Regulations’ the use of these parts on your vehicle, will not invalidate your manufacturer’s warranty, provided the service schedule is followed. We supply and fit the OE ‘Matching Quality’ brands we trust through our years of experience and knowledge.
  • Counterfeit parts are a very real and dangerous problem for the automotive industry and is worth £billions worldwide. Service and consumable parts like filters and braking components are high up on the list of the most faked parts amongst many others. These parts are sold online or in some instances by unscrupulous retailers. This is one reason why we won’t fit parts from sources unknown to us or parts supplied by customers. When it comes to fake or sub-standard parts you’ll experience (as a minimum), poor performance and breakdowns. In the worst-case scenario it could result in critical failures, which have the potential to put the safety of you and other road users at risk – let alone the cost of further repairs.
  • Cataloging accuracy is another reason we decline to fit parts supplied by customers (in addition to the issues with quality and potential counterfeit products). Ordering the correct part for your vehicle is often more complicated than just entering your registration into a website. The parts supplied to us are identified using the vehicle registration and VIN number, against parts manufacturer and vehicle manufacturer cataloging systems (online auction sellers for example, don’t have this). This means that any potential issues with date changes or specification changes can be spotted. Should a mistake be made, we can get the parts changed in hours, not days.
  • The Cost of parts is something that rears its head from time-to-time. The simple fact is that cheap brands, ‘white box’ and counterfeit products vary wildly in quality and don’t come close to comparing to OE and OE ‘Matching Quality’ products, therefore it’s very easy to find things cheaper online. We always endeavor to provide the most economical repair, but this is never to the detriment of quality. In the rare and unlikely event that a part we supply and fit fails due to a manufacturing issue, our supplier and the manufacturers have warranty procedures and support systems in place to get you back on the road, not just offer a replacement or refund – this support is not available from online sellers or unscrupulous retailers.

I hope there’s some information in here to help alleviate a small part of your daily frustrations. In Part 2, I’ll be looking at why customers feel the need to say they know a mechanic, used to be one, tell you how easy the job is, or a mixture of all three.      

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