Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2005   by CARS Magazine

Can We Talk?

2001 SSGM Garage of the Year owner Bruce Eccles has an alternate take on Right-to-Repair

As Joan Rivers would say, “Can we talk?” Let’s have a real, honest look at the automotive aftermarket and where it is heading. When I started in the trade in 1975 there was a real panic about electronic ignition. No points & condenser? How will we fix them? Then came the array of ridiculous bolt-on emission controls and so many vacuum lines it was like a bowl of spaghetti under the hood. Most good shops conquered these challenges. Well, the automobile has come a long way since then, but I am not so sure we as the independent repair shop have. This brings me to one of the points I am trying to make. At that time we had all the information available to read, understand and repair the vehicle correctly. Yet many a time the manual was never consulted and you would be hard pressed to find a multimeter in the shop! So I am 100% in favour of the Right to Repair Act, but as I said before, lets be honest … in my opinion too small a percentage of shops have the tools, training and qualified techs that can actually use the information when it is made available. Even with the current info available today, many shops use “dartboard diagnostics” or the old “ask the counterman ‘do you sell many of these'” method. When as an industry are we going to wake up and realize that we need an overhaul? The withholding of information by the manufacturers is just one of many problems that need to be addressed. We need help building our business’s to compete with the dealers. Lets start with my favourite pet peeve, the “trinkets & trash” promotions by our beloved parts manufacturers. It is a sad state of affairs when a shop needs a scan tool update (if they have one) and the manufacturers offer a big screen TV or barbeque as a promotion! Read between the lines! What should they be offering? What are we saying to the consumer when we offer “Buy three, get one free”? That might have been “O.K.” the first time in 1981. Think about that! Then we have the filthy, disorganized shop that is charging an hourly rate which is less than 2 large pizzas and a beer! Who, by the way, phone six jobbers every repair to get the best price! (and they are 90 days over on all of them) These shop owners are always too busy to take any kind of training! I don’t have a solution, but I know if many of these shop owners started with a business management course (I personally endorse Bob Greenwood) and some training for their techs it will be a good start. Now I could go on a lot longer, but I have made my point. Don’t lose any sleep over just the “Right to Repair” it is a small part of a huge problem!

About Bruce Eccles

Age: 49, married 27 years, 3 children

Years in Trade: 31

Years in Business: 21

About Bruce Eccles Auto Service

Location: 121 King St. W. Dundas, Ontario


Affiliations: ACDelco, AARO, ASE 2 buildings, 6500 square feet

Number of Licensed Techs: 4, one apprentice

Number of Hoists: 6

Services Offered: general repair, alignment, emissions inspection/repair

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