Diagnostics: It Starts at the Top

Rob Ingram is the owner/operator of Eldon Ingram Ltd. NAPA AUTOPRO in Stratford, Ont. He can be reached at autoingram@gmail.com.

Charging for your time should be a priority.

We open CarCare Business every month and frequently flip through the magazine, skimming over various articles. We will eventually read the magazine front to back, but we all stop to read articles on new technology.

We’re often excited to read up on the car with the newest technology and what we need to learn and the tools we will need to diagnose and repair those cars. Does anyone ask the question, “How are we going to get paid for diagnosing and repairing high tech vehicles driving into our shop today?”

Price versus value

We could talk about the newest tool, or a new website to gain access to the best information the industry has to offer. But does that help diagnostic technicians who take training at night because they take pride in being the best at what they do, and are still underpaid?

Does that help shop owners when the margins on parts are getting tighter and the perceived value of their repair shops are based on getting the customer the cheapest price possible? Just to be clear: No it does not!

IT STARTS AT THE TOP! As a shop owner myself, I understand the costs associated with running a repair facility, the training, the tools and the subscriptions to OEM information to service and repair today’s vehicles.

How can the average shop afford to stay current if the technician’s time and knowledge is discounted daily because the manager or shop owner under-values the technician’s knowledge and ability?

It is the technician’s responsibility to repair the vehicle right the first time, on time! It is the owner’s responsibility to charge accordingly so his/her technicians are paid well and have the tools, equipment and information they need to do the job right the first time. IT STARTS AT THE TOP!

Customers will suffer

As a shop owner, you need to take care of your technicians, service advisors and support staff first so they can take care of your customers. Without the proper staff earning the proper wages, your customers will ultimately suffer. Without charging for your highly qualified technicians to diagnose complex problems on customers’ vehicles, the latest and greatest diagnostic tool does you no good.

Discounting the knowledge and the abilities of your staff by discounting diagnostic time can only lead to misdiagnosis, comebacks and unhappy customers. I have made all the same mistakes that shop owners across Canada have. I have blamed the weather, the industry, my customers, my parts suppliers and even my technicians. Who is steering the ship?

Who is the commander-in-chief? That person is the shop manager or the owner. The problem with all those excuses is they suggest that “I” (the shop owner) was never the problem, when in fact I was the biggest problem.

It is very simple: Just charge for your diagnostic time. Not charging for the time your high-skilled and highly intelligent technicians spend diagnosing complex problems on customers’ vehicles falls solely on the shoulders of the manager and owner. Charge for diagnostics like your livelihood depends on it, because it does!

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