5 Things Your Repair Shop Wants You To Know
Having a great relationship with your preferred automotive repair shop is really important. The chances are, if you are going to someone reputable, they try really hard to do what they can for their customers and they do care about making you a satisfied customer. Unfortunately in our industry, there is already a negative stigma surrounding "mechanics" that often times is a direct result of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
#1 Automotive Technicians are not "vehicle mind readers"
There are no crystal balls into the future that can tell what your vehicle may decide to do down the road. While technicians are trained in looking for current problems, vehicle trends and preventative measures, no one can guarantee their won't be that pothole to wreck your suspension, the starter that may end up failing or any other issues. It's important to have that understanding compared to coming in and saying "You looked at it 6 months ago and now this went wrong!". Technicians do what they can for you and for your vehicle but they are not able to predict the unknown.
Keeping up with your routine maintenance on time (oil changes for example) are a great way to continuously monitor your vehicle's condition and catch concerns early on.
#2 Parts do fail at random
One big headache for both customers and mechanics alike is getting a car completely finished, giving it back to the customer and that new part fails shortly after. A lot of times; and its completely understandable as to why they feel this way, customers believe that shop didn't do the repair at all or didn't do it right (which could be possible in other situations, this is about parts). After working in a parts store as a manager, working in several automotive businesses over the years and now running my own, I can say new parts can potentially fail more often than most customers would imagine. I'm not talking about cheap parts they got off of Ebay either. Parts directly from the manufacturer can fail. I'm sure most shops would agree that they would love for their customers to understand that they had no intention of sending the car out with a part that would fail shortly there after but it happens. Going to a reputable repair shop just means that you can count on them to bring it back in, swap out that part and get you on your way again. Is it a little bit of a hassle, yes. It is for that shop as well but as long as you are going to a place that stands behind their work, it will at least get handled.
#3 Showing up early does not mean your vehicle will come in early.
Booked repair shops are booked for a reason. It's because overall, the majority of their customers have been really satisfied with their work and their business is moving. While it can be great to have your vehicle to the shop early on that chance that they CAN get to it sooner, it doesn't guarantee they will be able to work on it any earlier than scheduled. Even though we would love to take care of your vehicle right away, we can't always make that happen and still have to dedicate the time we promised to our other customers just as we do for you.
#4 We want to know more about your concerns
If you are bringing your car into the shop, chances are you aren't too thrilled about it. While I love my job, I love tinkering and problem solving, I completely understand that as a customer it can be daunting when you don't know if you are going in to find no problem at all or something major. You also want to know fairly quickly if you are like most customers and that is ok. We want to know more about your concerns coming in so we can address your vehicle concerns more efficiently. If you bring it in for a clunk, describe that. When did it start happening? Was it making that noise regularly, just one time, it made the noise and then other things started happening? Did you car start making a weird sound only in the morning when it is cold or only when turning to the left? Keep a note of the concerns you have, we want to know more. If you hand your repair shop a vehicle and ask them blankly to find something wrong with it, it will usually take longer and you have no way of knowing if the vehicle is going to duplicate that concern without meeting the same conditions it was under when it gave you the problem. That problem could be anywhere from the front bumper to the rear bumper, and anywhere in between. This also helps keep your diagnostics costs down because your mechanic is able to spend his or her time addressing your concern and with a starting point.
#5 We want you to ask questions
If your repair shop calls you and says you need a new part, do you feel confident making the decision to either replace the part or not? If you do, great. If you don't, you should definitely ask your shop what the part does and why does it need to be replaced. Those kinds of questions are actually really important. One concern I heard at least once during every single auto clinic was "How do I know if I need what they are selling me?". And while that can be an open ended question, the quickest way to start determining that is to ask questions. Ask what the parts do, is it something that needs to be replaced immediately, if there is a big list of suggested work; can they prioritize for you a suggestion list so you can worry about the most important repairs first and so on. We want our customers to have a good understanding of what is going on with their vehicles, what we are doing to it and why. Not only does that help you as the customer make better decisions for your vehicle, it helps build a relationship between you and your shop.
So while this is not an extensive list of what I'm sure is everything that every technician anywhere wants you to know, it's a little bit of a behind the scenes look into what we as automotive repair shops in general feel could be great ways to better improve our relationships with our customers.