Viewpoint: Cleaning Up Other Shops’ Messes – UnderhoodService
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Viewpoint: Cleaning Up Other Shops’ Messes

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The other day I was talking with advisory board member Dave Christopher of Christopher’s Car Care in Tallmadge, OH. Dave, his wife and son run a great shop and he has a very loyal customer base. His appointment schedule is often booked weeks in advance.

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Dave takes a great deal of pride in his shop and the automotive repair industry. He regularly attends industry events and he makes sure his technicians stay sharp with training. Also, he has been part of the BRAKE & FRONT END editorial advisory board since 1995.

Dave told me a story of one of his long time customers had to take their 1996 Chevy Cavalier to another repair shop because of time constraints on both sides. The customer took the car to a nearby franchise shop. The diagnosis was a bad right front wheel bearing.

The repair shop told the customer that wheel bearings should be replaced in sets because if one side fails, the other is not far behind. This is true for brake pads, but not wheel bearings.

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Either this is an extreme case of ignorance, or an extreme case of greed. Also, the parts prices were grossly inflated.

The franchise the shop is a part of is a member of the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) and they make sure that their members have the MAP guidelines at every franchise. Obviously, the person behind the counter has never looked at the materials.

I am not trying to beat up on the big franchises. In this case, it could have easily happened at an independent shop or even a dealership. The majority of franchise chain stores do a good job for the consumer. They provide shop operators with a credible national name and training for technicians and business operations. A lot for technicians, service writers and shop managers get their start at franchises.

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Eventually, the customer called Dave and asked for his opinion. The customer refused the repair at the other shop. The shop refused to release the vehicle unless it was towed off the lot.

I know this can be a good practice to avoid a lawsuit, but in this case it was vindictive and petty. Dave’s shop accommodated the customer and did the repair.

What makes Dave great is that he has a conscious that is active on a customer and industry level. He can see the big picture of what is influencing our industry and consumers. Reflecting on the incident, he surmised that his shop may have sold the customer a new wheel bearing, but they had to clean up after another shop’s greed and incompetence. This is not a position any shop wants to be in when making a sale. Why? Because along with repairing the vehicle, you have to repair the trust of the customer.

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It could be said that the other shop’s bad practices benefit Dave’s shop’s bottom line. But, Dave is not looking at gains like this as a positive for his shop or the industry as a whole.

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