AKRON (July 21, 2003)—How often have you heard yourself or one of your managers saying, “I can't charge that much money for this job?”
The next time you're inclined to doubt yourself, take a deep breath and answer the following questions about your service department's performance.
cDo your technicians know which screw to turn and how far to turn it? If so, you're worth what you charge. This also includes things such as knowing which wires to wiggle and shake when diagnosing an intermittent electrical problem.
* Do your techs have the skill and training to know when and where an educated guess is needed? If so—and if they're guessing correctly—then you're worth whatever you charge. Anyone who tells you that good techs don't take educated guesses hasn't spent any time in the bays—let alone any time diagnosing vehicles.
* Did you fix the vehicle correctly the first time? If so, you're worth it.
* Did you fix the vehicle on time? If so, you're worth it.
* If you did fix the vehicle correctly the first time, do a little mental survey of your market area. For example, one of the many benefits of your substantial investment in training is that your techs can identify a variety of intermittent driveability failures very quickly and accurately. Now, how many competitors within a mile of your store can diagnose these problems as quickly and accurately as your guys can?
Next, how many tire dealerships or service shops within five miles of your dealership could have diagnosed those intermittent problems accurately on the first try?
If the answer is one or none, you are definitely worth whatever you want to charge. Consider this: If your techs hadn't diagnosed the vehicle, how many hours, days and/or dollars would the motorist have spent getting it fixed elsewhere?
* Did you fix a car that one of your competitors not only failed to fix but also bungled badly? Not only did he fail to fix it, did he either make the condition worse or else hang a bunch of parts it didn't need? If so, you're definitely worth whatever you charge.
* Did you fix the vehicle the first time without getting grease or slime on the steering wheel, seats, door handles etc.? If so, then you're worth it.
* Did you fix the vehicle without damaging any other parts of the vehicle in the process? If so, you're worth it.
* Did you fix a problem that a do-it-yourselfer either couldn't fix or had already bungled? If so, you're worth it.
* Did your tech identify a different, unrelated but potentially catastrophic problem during his or her diagnosis? (For example, the tech is diagnosing an intermittent misfire complaint but notices a pending failure such as a leaking water pump or seeping coolant hose.) Did addressing this unrelated problem ultimately save the customer time and money? Did addressing this unrelated problem prevent the customer from being stranded somewhere? If so, then you're definitely worth what you charge.
* Finally, did your tech instinctively add value to the job by cleaning the windows? Did he or she patiently untangle the car's seat belts without being asked to do so? Did he or she voluntarily lubricate the squeaking door hinges without being asked to do so? If the answer's yes, then you're worth what you charge.
There's no question some motorists are only interested in price, price and price. But my experience and that of successful business owners and managers is that countless others appreciate all the little items I've listed here. To them, these items have a value—and they're willing to pay for this value.
Now you have to search your soul as to which kinds of motorists make the best long-term customers—the value-conscious ones or the cheapskates? When you figure this out, let me know your decision.