A customer comes in with a car he’s tried to fix himself… but he got stuck and he needs your help. Shouldn’t take too long. The job’s mostly finished.
This time it happened to Jason Didychuk, owner of JD’s Auto Service in Moncton. The customer had tried to install new wheel bearings and brake calipers on his Grand-Am, but “for some reason” the brakes were still grinding.
Jason put the car on the hoist, pulled the wheels, and found that the bearing on one side was the wrong size. So the customer had to go get the right part. The car’s still in the air because it can’t be put together. Meanwhile, the office is getting busy and Jason has other jobs he’d like to start in that bay. Then it turns out the part store is out of stock on the customer’s wheel bearing and they’ve had to dispatch a driver to the warehouse – an hour round trip.
But the clock is still running on that Grand-Am, right?
“It should be,” admits Jason. “By rights, it should be $75 an hour from the time I start to the time it’s done.”
That’s Jason’s labor rate for a job with customer-supplied parts – up $10 from the usual $65 an hour.
The incident left Jason pondering the value of working with customer-supplied parts at all. On the one hand he doesn’t like to turn people away because a customer is a customer. Plus, he doesn’t like to disappoint people. And, quite frankly, sometimes it’s convenient if someone walks in with a particularly hard-to-find part. Makes things easier.
On the other hand, an incident like this shows the inherent flaw in the policy.
Ultimately, I think most customers end up losing money when they try to bring in their own parts. They might save on the cost of the part, but they lose on the labor rate. The shop can’t vouch for the part. The part won’t be covered under warranty. And if anything goes wrong, the customer has to pay for the whole job all over again.
Customer-supplied parts continue to be an issue right across the country, and many shop owners have dealt with it the way Jason has: discourage it, charge a little more for it, and try to educate the customer.
That last little bit – about educating the customer – is particularly important here. It’s very easy to come to the conclusion that you don’t need the headache. After all, you’d have to admit these aren’t your very best customers. Far from it. At best, you’d have to call them “pseudo-customers.” And it might even be fair to say you only have a “pseudo-relationship” with them.
The good thing about education is that it can turn pseudo-customers into super customers.