Service vs. Fix

Most of us technicians and shop owners (or at least us older ones) have fond memories of working at a service station. Service stations were just that; places providing service.

I remember it was very seldom that we actually worked on a broken car as most of our time was spent on a vehicle that was in for service, not repair. Cars were usually dropped off with a note stating, “Winter is coming, please service the vehicle.”

Actual service consisted of checking out all the systems and adjusting or replacing all worn items (neat concept of replacing parts before they break). Brakes, belts, fluids, electrical and state of tuneup were verified and confirmed. As time went on we all know what happened to the old-time service stations: they just went away as cars became more electronic and dependable with the manufacturers promoting maintenance-free vehicles more and more each year.

In today's marketplace, if a filling station or service station existed it would be called a “fix” station because more and more repair shops are so busy fixing broken cars they don't really have the time to actually service the vehicle. They are too busy fixing cars with broken parts (due to the lack of service) to even consider looking at needed service items.

While looking at a 1988 Ford Taurus at a local shop recently I pointed out that the ignition coil had arced. It was burnt all the way through to the side of the metal mounting bracket. My friend, the shop owner, looked at me and said, “The car needs many other repairs worse than that!”

With that said, they wrote up a repair order for a water pump R&R and gave the keys to the customer without even suggesting the ignition coil problem. I questioned this decision in a later conversation and was told, “I really don't have the time to service cars anymore.”

Wow! This same shop was just telling me the other day that business had been a little slow! Now my take on this is that there are 480 minutes in an eight-hour day and YOU are in charge of those minutes. If in fact you don't have the time, then it really is YOUR fault. Fix it!

Start your service programs today by asking yourself this question: Do we as a business service or fix vehicles? The answer of “both” is unacceptable!

You can increase your profits every time you service a car using the manufacturer's recommended service intervals required to properly maintain a vehicle. Many customers will simply get a tuneup and lube job or they will bring their car in when they “think” it is time, while others wait until the vehicle is not operating properly before having it serviced.

Very few customers have their car serviced according to the manufacturer's recommendations and I blame this on today's service technicians and shop owners for not informing their customers by verbal communication or actual service marketing programs.

You can really do your customers a favor by pointing out the factory-suggested services needed per vehicle. For the customer, it is better service. For you, it is better profit and somewhat easier work.

Everywhere I travel today, I hear: “I wish I didn't need to work on all this junk!”

In many cases, you fight a poorly maintained car while, at the same time, you just let a new one out the door without suggesting a past-due service!

Think this out: If you serviced every car in your shop today, there would be very little need to fix junk tomorrow.

You are in control of your business, aren't you?


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