Auto Service World
News   February 3, 2016   by CARS Magazine

Service Notes: How to turn pseudo-customers into super customers

Getting people to stop trying to bring in their own parts starts with education.

Supplied Parts-Main imageStop me if you’ve heard this one before.

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.

You can reach Allan Janssen at 416-614-5814 or

Print this page


5 Comments » for Service Notes: How to turn pseudo-customers into super customers
  1. Kim Stankiewicz says:

    It seems to me the bigger issue here is the fact that the customer can go to any retailer and buy safety related parts without a clue about what he is doing. This not only compromises their safety but everyone on the road. When will we require proof of qualification to sell these types of parts. We cannot run a business without having licensed personal, so why do we let our expertise be undermined by allowing unskilled people to compete with us. It seems to me that we could eliminate some “backyarders” with a different approach.

  2. Peter Koudounis says:

    We do not install any customer supplied parts at all. This seemingly goodwill gesture never goes unpunished! Customers’ believe they have figured out the issue with their car since they googled the answer, just to find out the problem hasn’t been resolved. Guess who they look at for the right answer? Do you actually think they will pay you to figure out the problem? Probably not!

    Also, in the province of Ontario, even a customer supplied new or used part must be warrantied by the shop for a period of 90-days as per the consumer protection act.

    So if someone calls or shows with their own parts, turn them away!

  3. David K says:

    A customer showing up with their own parts is no different than me showing up at a Keg with a steak and telling them to put it on the grille,it’s not going to happen.Every shop should. discourage it.If they insist we install their parts then we must charge more.

  4. Ross Gulka says:

    If customers want to bring their own parts we charge 1.3 to 1.5 times the normal labor rate with no warranty. We explain that our parts supplier provides us with warranty coverage and that is not possible when the customer supplies their own parts. We explain that we do need the slight profit from parts sales in order to keep our labor rate down. We are a busy shop and we are not in business to lose money just because the customer wants to save a buck!

  5. Ed K says:

    I agree with David on this and use that phrase every day. Remember there are many places to buy your parts, why support someone that sells to your customers. You can’t buy parts for your gas furnace without a license.

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *