Help me out here. There’s something I just don’t get. How do some people leave their pride and joy — the family truckster, the old jalopy, or whatever they want to call it — at a repair shop for an extended amount of time?
Every day while driving to work, I’ll pass numerous shops that seem to have the same cars sitting in front of their bays day after day. They move them around a bit, you know, kind of like shuffling chess pieces or something, but they never seem to leave. What’s going on at these places? Every once in a while, I’ll get someone that comes into my shop with this same old story: “I had my car over at this other shop for the past month and they still haven’t found out what’s wrong with it. So, I got tired of waiting and had it dragged over to you.”
This happens a lot more than most people realize. The thing that really surprises me is how somebody could be without their car for such a long time. I mean seriously, what did you buy the car for? Was your goal just to make the payments while it sat in front of this obscure repair shop rusting away? I just don’t get it. Does this shop have some sort of charismatic charm that convinces someone to leave their car there for months on end without ever getting it repaired?
I’m in the business of repairing cars. I’ll make the time or I’ll hire more help to get a car fixed in a timely manner — whatever way it takes to keep the customer happy. At my shop, the norm is that everyone is in a hurry and can’t wait even a few hours for me to get to their repairs. This seems to be the complete opposite mentality of those at these Main Street rest stops that masquerade as “repair shops.”
If all these shops are doing is providing a free space for an extended stay at the “Shady Rust Hotel,” well, that’s not what I’d call a really smart business decision. Maybe keeping the parking lot full is just their way of showing off how many cars they have to work on, or should I say, that they’re trying to work on?
I’ve often wondered about the true status of those lonely cars. I’m pretty convinced they are not all sitting because they have some sort of exotic part that needs shipped in by row boat. I really think the reason these cars spend their days taking up valuable space in front of these shops is because the mechanics at these places don’t have a clue how to fix them. Let’s face it, if they’re in the business to repair problems on customers’ cars (just like I am), then by all rights, fix them and make room for the next one!
As luck would have it, one of these mechanics/ caretakers recently paid me a visit to help diagnose one of these problem vehicles that had been sitting around his shop.
“We’re always busy,” he said, “I just keep trying different parts until I get it running, and if I run out of ideas, I let it sit until I think of something else to do.”
“I’m only bringing you this car because the owner was getting a bit riled up over it taking so long” seems like a poor way of diagnosing problems, and it’s an even poorer way of taking care of a customer. Vehicle repair isn’t some kind of kid’s game that should be left to chance. It’s a highly skilled trade with highly skilled individuals who dedicate their lives to performing intricate diagnostics and repairs. Doing it right requires sophisticated equipment and continual education on the latest systems being developed.
When I think of these cars that time forgot, I’m ultimately reminded of a maxim I learned a long time ago: “If you don’t have time to do a job right, when will you have time to do it over?”