AKRON (Aug. 5, 2002)—Technician wannabes don´t deserve special considerations at your service department. Simply put, if these do-it-yourselfers (DIY´ers) were so smart and so capable, they wouldn´t be begging your service manager to straighten out the mess they´ve made of their vehicles.
Remember the old saying that the road to hell is always paved with good intentions? That definitely describes these sad-sack characters who believed they could repair their own vehicles. They failed and for some unearthly reason they think they should get more than an E for effort. They mistakenly think they´re entitled to a major price break from you.
Mr. Owner or Manager, if you believe a person who botched a diagnosis or repair job is entitled to a discount, then you´ll believe I´m Henry Kissinger.
In my travels, I´ve watched entirely too many debates or exchanges between frustrated DIY´ers and service personnel at all levels of tire dealerships and service shops. If you tape recorded these discussions, you´d be amazed how similar they sound. Typically, this red-blooded American boy across the service desk from you is a legend in his own mind.
The first thing he´s going to emphasize is that he can fix anything. The second thing he´ll do after he senses your disbelief is urge you to ask any of his neighbors.
Shoot, to hear him tell it, he not only built all their homes, he also maintains all their vehicles. He is a veritable Renaissance man with wrenches, saws and hammers. The trouble with today´s world, he´ll add, is that folks don´t appreciate what a savvy son of a gun he really is.
For now, Mr. Service Manager, please ignore the butchered rear calipers on the car he brought in. How was a big-time operator like him supposed to know that you retract the caliper pistons by threading them inward? Take pity because he also bent his best C-clamp trying to push those pistons in with it.
These guys always come across as big talkers who´re wrangling for a price break by earning your sympathy or wearing out your patience-whichever occurs first. For instance, most of them love to blame the technology on the vehicle as being needlessly complicated and needlessly expensive. I can almost guarantee you that at some point in the discussion, he´s going to whine that they don´t build ´em like they used to (whatever that means).
Don´t even consider debating with this chap about what constitutes ``expensive.´´ Having witnessed enough of these discussions, I can assure you that expensive is anything this fellow can´t fix on the fly and on the cheap. That would be the pointless discussion to end all others.
If you haven´t budged on the price to straighten out his car´s mess, he may play his trump card, a comment such as, ``How´s a workin´ man like myself supposed to afford these repairs?´´ (The guy could cut his beer and cigarette consumption by half, that´s how.)
Occasions like this warrant a handout that you save just for this kind of customer. The handout reads: ``We didn´t build it, we didn´t buy it and we didn´t break it.´´
This may be the only explanation that registers with this guy. You have to dispel the popular myth that this is, indeed, a do-it-yourself world.
Unfortunately, everything from auto parts stores to garden centers to home-improvement centers are bombarding consumers with the same basic message today: If you have a pulse you are sharp enough to do the job yourself and save big bucks doing so. For many guys, doing a job themselves is truly a matter of machismo pride. Fellows who can´t re-roof a house, build their own deck or replace CV joints in the wife´s Taurus are lesser men than those who can.
However, many of the service personnel I´ve observed over the years are also passionate DIY´ers. Therefore, they get suckered into giving this guy a substantial price break simply because they sympathize with his plight.
Can you convert some of these guys into regular customers for your dealership? There´s a chance you can win him over. But you´ll probably find that this is a one-time visit by a desperate man who´s trying to get the wife´s or daughter´s vehicle roadworthy again. My advice is to politely but firmly limit your time with Mr. DIY´er and concentrate on the prospects who really are interested in spending money with you.