The vehicle owner is the sole person responsible for maintaining a vehicle properly and in a timely manner.
Therefore, a motorist who refuses to prioritize vehicle upkeep cannot blame anyone but himself or herself for the consequences of neglected services.
Over the years, I've witnessed countless exchanges between car owners and service sales personnel about the cost of maintaining or repairing a vehicle. An ongoing theme I've heard is the motorist's reluctance—sometimes downright refusal—to take responsibility for maintaining his or her car. To me, the bottom line is that some adults simply never embraced the concepts of priorities and personal responsibility.
One of the most indelible lessons my parents taught me was to set priorities. For instance, we kids saw the earliest color televisions in the front window of a big appliance center in Trevose, Pa. But as much as we pined for one of these new-fangled color TVs, my folks told us that other things were much greater priorities than possibly watching Lassie, Highway Patrol and Rin Tin Tin in living color. (If I remember correctly, some programs actually were not available in color back then.) My parents' priorities were items such as new windows and a new water heater. And maybe food on the table?
Auto upkeep also was a big priority for us. By the time we had settled in suburban Philadelphia, my father was (and would remain) a salesman. A reliable car became more than a family convenience—his livelihood depended upon it.
“When you depend on a machine, treat it accordingly. Then budget yourself accordingly,” he stressed.
In those days, Pennsylvania had a strict, twice-a-year safety inspection program. It was a big adventure to accompany my dad to this cavernous repair shop in Willow Grove, Pa., for the vehicle inspection. We'd wait in the shop's tiny front office, me drinking Cokes and leafing through automotive magazines—a portent of the future, perhaps?
Meanwhile, my dad read the news¬paper and enjoyed one of his Cuban cigars as the crew inspected our sturdy Chevrolet station wagon. By the way, Castro was in power but trade relations with Cuba hadn't been severed yet, lest you accuse dad of blowing smoke at the law.
Motorists came and went while we waited. We'd overhear various discussions about the costs of maintenance and repairs. Some of the people whined, griped and/or pouted about vehicle inspection and upkeep. I recall my dad lowering his newspaper and knowingly rolling his eyes—his silent expression of disbelief and disagreement.
“Son, we all bear the same burden,” my father told me, “But some people budget for it smarter than others.” Little did I know how prophetic these comments would be.
Yes, you encounter hard-working, conscientious people who are unusually cost conscious. They're coping with legitimate but unexpected expenses of one kind or another. However, I'm highlighting a horse of a different color here. I'm referring to the loudmouth who's wearing the priciest designer clothing and the flashiest jewelry while berating you for the cost of maintenance and repairs.
With a little less flash, he or she would have considerably more cash—money they could allocate toward car care, were they to prioritize.
What's more, some motorists carefully research operating costs before buying a new car while many others buy vehicles impulsively and foolishly. Later, they blame tire dealers and service shop operators when they learn just how costly it is to maintain and repair their vehicles.
Try to win over these prospects by patiently emphasizing the real value of effective maintenance and quality repairs instead of just citing the dollar cost. Nonetheless, you eventually may conclude that this prospect prefers to spend money on things other than personal transportation. It's your prerogative to respond by giving the proverbial store away in order to win a customer. Or not.
On the other hand, maybe you can wait for the inevitable failures to occur on their neglected vehicles. In the meantime, focus on selling to the folks who really value their vehicles as well as your work.
Have you experienced customers who don't value their vehicles? Let me know how you've handled them.