Auto Service World
News   July 3, 2018   by Chelsey Hattum

COMMENTARY: Dealing with YouTube customers

"But I saw it on YouTube!” Some customers come in with preconceived notions that they learned from some amateur mechanic on the Internet

We all have those customers who come in with a good YouTube story. Whether they use YouTube for maintenance hints or repair tips, they think they know it all when they get to your front counter.

Sometimes you have to undo damage caused to their vehicle when they followed some video blogger’s bad advice. Other customers second-guess your work because “the guy on YouTube said it shouldn’t be like that.” The worst are the ones who say, “It only took the guy on YouTube 15 minutes to do it. Why are you quoting me 1.5 hours?”

These are my least favourite customers, and they can be some of the hardest to please.

It’s so hard to explain that the guy on YouTube might have been working on a different model, or didn’t have to deal with rusty bolts that broke off, or had already done a lot of prep work like removing some components so they could more easily make repairs.

Sometimes I think that these YouTubers create videos just to make professionals look like liars, trying to screw people out of their money. They definitely make our jobs harder.

I recently had a customer who had done his own YouTube research on alternators. He know how cheap it should be and how easy it was going to be to change. He was furious after I gave him his quote because it was much more than the YouTuber said it should be.

I watched the video. The customer didn’t mention that the YouTuber had installed a used alternator, sourced from a local wrecker. Not only that, but the old alternator had already been uninstalled and everything was out of the way, ready for the ‘new’ alternator to go in.

Another customer neglected to mention that he’d already attempted to do the work himself, following a bad video. He had isolated a broken part and assumed he’d found the source of his problems. Yup, except that piece didn’t have anything to do with the problem he was facing. In fact it was the part behind that broken piece that now had to be heated, cut out, and replaced because it had a freshly broken bolt.

But what can you say? Nothing. They’re already on high-alert for confrontation from you. It’s why I cringe whenever I hear the word “YouTube” at the counter.

I don’t want to discredit YouTube for what it does and what it is because, I will admit, I have used it from time to time. It is especially helpful when it comes to import vehicles – the ones I don’t see too many of in our little town of about 4,000 people.

But the difference between us and YouTube mechanics is that we’ve been properly trained to know what various engine parts are and what they do. We’ve had years of experience taking them out and putting them in. We know how to maneuver around other parts. We’ve learned little tricks to make us more productive.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to explain this to customers without making them immediately suspicious of our motives and intentions. The best – and easiest – solution is to do the work competently so they learn the lesson that a professional can outperform a YouTube amateur any day of the week.


Chelsey Hattum is a technician at OK Tire in Moosomin, Sask.

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3 Comments » for COMMENTARY: Dealing with YouTube customers
  1. Bob Ward says:

    More people are looking to the internet for advice. The key here is not to offend your customer for investigating their problem on the internet. If you take the time to sell yourself, the quality of work and your warranty, you have the perfect opportunity of making a very loyal customer. By providing professional advice and taking time during your talk you stand to win. If you prejudge the customer you stand to lose them and possibly get a negative review. Millennial customers are different but you can educate them to become a loyal customer if they are handled properly.

    • Peter says:

      I don’t know, when I was working in a busy shop full time, most customers trusted us fully and usually left the diagnosis to us. To be honest the shop was very good and customers were never taken advantage of. A good description of the problem is very helpful but self diagnosis(unless they really know what they are talking about ) or telling you what the guy on Youtube says etc. – I am not sure they are worth having for a customer. Let them aggravate another shop or try to do it themselves. There are a lot of good customers out there – build your clientele with them.

  2. Peter says:

    The problem is Youtube as well as cheap parts sources are great for the DIYer. These are not suited for someone who cannot do actually do the work. I recently had someone say they had watched to Youtube video and it didn’t look difficult, meanwhile I know this person has very limited mechanical ability. Then tells me how cheap he can get the part online. I told him to order it as I could not compete with that pricing and that I would be using an OEM part. A weak and a half later his part had not arrived so he supplied me with a part from the dealer. I didn’t care at this point, did the job and done. This will be the last time I do any work for this person. There are a lot of good customers that appreciate my service, I simply don’t need people like this. The next person that comes to me talking Youtube and cheap parts from online stores will be politely asked to do it themselves or find another shop. Many of these videos are very bad for professionals as they are not accurate, often exaggerating how quick or easy a job is, making us all look like rip off artists.

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