People do not need auto repair service sold to them; they need a solution to their problem. Businesses exist that provide both functions. Selection is key to a great experience.
Why does this continue?
Some businesses have a personal stake in keeping things as they are. Others are afraid to change and still others do not know what needs to be done. Looking at each group reveals some reasons for the behavior.
Those who want to keep things as they are.
Many auto repair shops could not survive in their present form, if people demanded better results. These shops will not invest in training and equipping to diagnose today’s vehicles. Instead, they sell services rather than solutions. Such a business is recognizable by the way they price their services. They offer a menu of items for sale and flat-rate pricing for the items. For instance, typical offerings include, $99.00 for a ‘brake job’ or $250 for an ‘injector flush.’
This approach will provide adequate outcomes in about 20% of the cases. This does not mean 80% of their customers are always unhappy. Any single customer might fall in the 20% several times, and be content. Many other people may only use the service occasionally and not realize a problem. People who fall into the 80% are unhappy but may be unaware of an alternative. Such folks often continue to use the service, unaware of the source of the problems.
Businesses that are afraid to change the way things are done.
An old saying explains the problem; "Pioneers get arrows in their behinds." Most places quote prices, though they have no idea what is wrong or what the vehicle requires to fix the problem. This is how it has always been. Shoppers view anyone changing the norm with suspicion. Most people do not like change, even when it is for their benefit. Seeing the end-result is very difficult, particularly in an occasional activity. Human nature is to be leery of things that are different. High resistance waits for any shop trying to change the standard operating procedure.
When dealing with the unknown, a person is easily confused. Buying most things, the customer knows what they want and can readily compare the options. With modern vehicles, this is not true. What the driver sees is a symptom, rather than the problem. For instance, a person may think they want a tune-up. What they really need is the fuel mileage to return to normal. They have inadvertently misdiagnosed the problem and found the lowest price on a service they did not need. This is a $400.00 mistake and an unhappy customer when the tune up fails to fix the problem.
Most auto repair businesses are honest and realize the system is bad. Most would change things if they could, but feel helpless. Customers call and ask for a price of a service. They do their best to try to explain the futility, but usually give in and quote a price on the requested service, rather than risk losing a customer. When the vehicle comes in, they diagnose the actual problem. The customer receives a call with the price for what they need and often blame the shop, for a much higher cost. They may feel the business has taken advantage of them. About 50% of the clients understand and have an adequate result.
These two groups comprise the vast majority of options available to the public. People who have a good experience return, and the other 50% try someone different the next time. Unfortunately, the method remains the same as do the results.
What is the answer?
The answer lies in finding a shop that sells solutions to problems, rather than only selling services.
The right shop will be different from those used in the past. A key to finding such a shop is listening to the information they request. They will not quote prices on services and will ask to see the vehicle. This shows they take pricing seriously and have committed to improving things in their trade. Such a business will always ask, "What is the problem we need to solve?" Accurate diagnosis depends on knowing the symptoms.
A shop must know, what is the vehicle doing, that we do not want it to do or what is it not doing, that we would like it to do?
As an example, if the vehicle starts, runs ten minutes and then dies, that is what they want to know. They will quote a price per hour, for diagnosis and where possible, an average time required. Sometimes, quoting the time required is impossible. Such cases usually involve initial testing to get an idea of how complex the problem is. To control costs, the shop easily makes arrangements. Simply request, "Spend no more than X-hours without calling."
Shops that have evolved to this level are interested in providing solutions. They will always have a great reputation, which is easily checked. Selling excessive diagnostic time is counter to their purpose. Such auto repair businesses normally have a large backlog of jobs.
Rather than pricing services, which will not fix the problem, spend time to find such a facility. The results will speak for themselves, and the cost will be far lower.