I overheard an interesting conversation about a dash light the other day. A shop owner had a customer with a dash light on. The customer had come in for something else, brake noise, I believe, and as the customer was picking up the car and paying his bill, he asked the shop owner, “Hey, did you guys notice that light on my dash?”
“Yes,” said the shop owner. “We saw it. We ran the code, and it came up a camshaft sensor. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
The customer, relieved, paid for his brake service and left. This left me wondering though. Was this a good deed from this shop owner? Was it a generous act, or was it something else, maybe a missed opportunity or even a mistake?
The more I mulled it over, the more curious it became. On one hand, the shop owner clearly had no intention of selling that customer anything he didn’t feel was necessary. In the shop owner’s opinion, and based upon his experience, that sensor was a minor issue, at least in the specific case of this customer and vehicle.
On the other hand, I thought, it seemed like that could be a minor but reckless business move. If the purpose of an automotive repair facility is to keep cars and trucks running like they did when they were new, then this was a lost opportunity.
Now I admit, I do not have the authority (or the desire) to dictate or define what “the purpose” of an auto repair facility is, at least not in any kind of big-picture way. And I do know that it ultimately comes down to individuals and personalities—my twenty-five years in this industry has proven that to be the case. However, in this instance, this example with the cam sensor, couldn’t it be said that he would have been perfectly honest in recommending that repair be done?
The shop owner could have said, “Well, sir, that light is because of your camshaft sensor. Your vehicle appears to be running properly, but a problem could be beginning, or the sensor itself may be malfunctioning.” From there he could have quoted a more detailed diagnostic, the price of replacement, or whatever course is best (I am not a technician, so I won’t try to guess). But my point is, I couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t recommend it, even though I know he did what he believed was right.
So what is right? Is there even such a thing as “right” in that instance? Certainly, recommending a service you don’t feel the customer needs is wrong. But isn’t there some value in giving the customer the option to have his vehicle working exactly as it was when it was new? When the man bought it brand-new, there were no dash lights on, so to suggest fixing the problem that triggered the light could not be considered wrong or aggressive sales, could it?
I don’t have the answer. I do know that we work with lots of shops who do battle with competition on every corner. For some shops, letting any single dollar of revenue escape can mean the difference between paying themselves that month or not. For some of them, perhaps for people like the owner of this particular shop, the difference between “over-selling” and providing good service is simply a matter of attitude. But then, where do you draw the line. Where do YOU draw the line? How do you know? What advice would you give?
The reason I ask is simple. One of the services we provide is the ability to send reminders to customers who had additional work they could have had done during a particular visit but didn’t get done at the time (technician recommended services), so clearly this relates. So, what do you think about the choice to let that go?
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