Always allow adequate diagnostic time, because rushing the task grossly increases the risk of disappointing a customer.
Rushed or neglected diagnoses are not the keys to meeting or exceeding motorists' expectations.
A rushed or neglected diagnosis does more than harm your service shop's or tire dealership's reputation. It doesn't foster the repeat business and referrals on which successful shops thrive.
To make matters worse, inaccurate diagnoses breed the mistakes that foment ugly reviews on social media.
Giving diagnostic time short shrift also angers and frustrates capable technicians who want to do good work.
This happens to be my 29th year authoring this column; I have been reporting on the automotive repair industry since 1976.
Throughout my travels and during my interviews, inadequate diagnostic time has been one of the single, most-persistent complaints I have heard.
Plus, when techs raise this issue, they often describe a tire dealership or service shop that lacks a consistent, realistic troubleshooting regimen.
Techs frequently have complained about service sales people at the front counter who prioritize quick turn-arounds over accurate diagnoses.
Worse yet, techs have told me, sales personnel behave as if they're self-appointed auto repair experts — qualified to dictate repair times and costs without consulting anyone in the bays.
It's been interesting to note how many techs in various towns and cities nationwide have shared these same experiences.
They have described a near mania among service salespeople for speedy repairs instead of accurate work.
That means turn the job around quickly and sweat potential consequences later.
Visit and analyze auto service facilities that have survived and thrived for 20 years or longer.
One of the traits they share is meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Their personnel rank "fixed right the first time" as the most-basic, most-vital tenet of customer expectations.
Furthermore, these professionals never allow a motorist to take charge of a transaction by dictating the required time, materials and expertise.
Simply put, allowing adequate diagnostic time is the foundation upon which these successful auto service facilities build their reputations.
Ineffective diagnoses and improper repairs mean failure — regardless of how quickly the work was done.
Some owners and managers may disagree with this philosophy.
To borrow a phrase, they may "feel the need for speed" instead of accuracy.
If so, then they might consider these topics of discussion.
First, which business in your marketplace has prospered for at least 20 to 25 years on a "speed-first, accuracy-second" auto repair approach? What percentage of that facility's income results from repeat and referral business?
Second, suppose your facility prioritizes fast auto repairs. What studies and surveys within your market confirm consumers' preference for speed over accuracy in auto repairs?
At the same time, which local surveys indicate that unsuccessful repairs actually meet motorists' expectations?
Third, suppose that unsuccessful repairs have occurred in your bays. Discuss and document why diagnostic time had no relationship to the failed repair job.
In the meantime, catalog all parts associated with failed repair jobs that your personnel returned to suppliers.
Discuss why diagnostic time had no relationship with the parts returned over the last 12 months.
Repeatedly, I've discussed these questions with bosses who fret that their auto repair businesses are losing customers.
Typically, they have flimsy answers or no answers whatsoever.
They're repeating approaches that used to suffice, or they're applying methods they simply assumed would succeed.
Either way, adequate diagnostic time was never part of their formula.
Invest the time in diagnosis now or pay the consequences for a botched repair later — it's your choice.