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The tighter money is, the more accurate a repair shop's diagnosis must be

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As we roll into a new year, savvy service personnel must respect that the tighter the economy remains, the more accurate automotive diagnosis must be.

The less money a motorist has to spend, the less room for error prescribing what the vehicle needs.

Ultimately, investing in accurate diagnosis yields happy customers in the short term and loyal customers over the long haul. Here's why.

Whether you are a tire dealer or service shop operator, your main goal should be fixing the vehicle correctly the first time. When all is said and done, that's what most motorists demand and expect from a service facility. Any consumer survey I've ever seen shows that ?fixed right the first time? is always a much higher priority than getting the lowest price.

As I have mentioned in many previous columns, fixing the vehicle correctly may, by necessity, require several visits in order to accommodate the customer's pocketbook. Everyone who walks in your door doesn't have the dough to fix all the vehicle's ills in one visit.

Now let's bring another factor into this mix. In previous columns, I've discussed how recognizing common breakdowns?often called ?pattern? failures?helps technicians diagnose countless vehicles every day. Surely, nailing pattern failures both boosts profits and reduces stress on technicians.

But the automotive facts of life teach us several things. First, every vehicle with a problem does not have a pattern failure. At some point, an auto service provider needs real technicians who actually can diagnose problems.

Yes, skilled, capable technicians?and the equipment they need?cost money.

Without competent technicians, a tire dealer or service shop operator must commit a cardinal sin in the eyes of the marketing whizzes: send jobs elsewhere.

Second, the automotive facts of life indicate that more and more vehicles entering the bays these days are afflicted with problems that are not pattern failures. Therefore, real diagnostic skills are needed more and more often in order to fix the vehicle correctly the first time.

Third, pay extra attention to the age of the vehicles coming into your bays. Furthermore, look up the average age of vehicles on the road today. Experience shows that these older but very serviceable cars often have several problems instead of just one. Therefore, the rat-a-tat, pattern-failure approach may not satisfy the customer. It may address only one of the car's problems.

From there on, the car may require a competent diagnosis. Otherwise service personnel end up hurling new parts at symptoms, hoping to hit the real cause(s).

Obviously, that approach is not the best way to respect the customer's hard-earned money during a tight economy. Worse yet, hurling parts at a vehicle only reinforces the worst stereotypes of auto repair people as being mindless parts-changers. Perpetuating a negative stereotype is no way to build loyal customers and repeat business.

Some tire dealers and service shop operators I meet are so fixated on trying to beat a competitor's price that they've lost sight of reality. Matter of fact, they're so distracted trying to be the low-cost provider that they overlook the only effective, consistent path to success: accurate diagnosis. Some owners and managers don't care to hear this because genuine diagnoses require sales and technical skills?skills for which they're unwilling to pay.

Remember that accurate diagnoses may be the fastest way to win loyal customers during a tight economy. Once again, the accurate diagnosis leads to fixed right the first time. ?Fixed right? exceeds the customer's expectations and exceeding expectations builds repeat business.

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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published February 1, 2019

What issue concerns you most heading into 2019?

The threat of more tariffs.
27% (27 votes)
The new Congress in Washington.
35% (35 votes)
Price fluctuations for the products we sell.
10% (10 votes)
More disruptions across the industry.
29% (29 votes)
Total votes: 101
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