Archive for the ‘About the Biz’ Category

The July 2012 issue of Consumer Reports hit the stands recently. In it, a very titillating article summarizing the top reasons people get bent with their repair shop. Our Napa distributor rep Gary was eager to get me a copy because the top items on this list of gripes were the exact items we had discussed in a recent brainstorming discussion surrounding the most prevalent customer concerns and the best business practices to minimize and address them. Thanks Gary, it is a perfect segue to this blog entry.

In the article poll…

38% Said that the price was too high

-Finn Mototech was established with efficiency and innovation as core values used to accomplish lower overhead and corresponding labor rates than the competition. On average, our labor rate is $12/hr less than the local competition.

28% Said that the initial repair did not fix the problem

-As a standard operating procedure, we test drive vehicles before and after repairs both to verify the initial complaint and to validate the repair. Additionally, we place high value on continued-current education so that our techs stay fresh and relevant as technology evolves. We constantly research and read about case studies, recalls, and manufacturer technical service bulletins to be readilly informed about whatever may come through the door.

21% Said that the repair took longer than expected

-Manage the customer’s expectations. Of the many things from Chris and my shared past experience one practice stuck with us. Namely the AAR (which stands for after action report/review). Found in many military-like command structures, the AAR is a brainstorming session in which all participants in an event get together to brainstorm what worked well, or didn’t work at all in the incident. We used to use them when fighting fire to analyze the ergonomics of our product designs after the intensity of the fire had passed and there was time to calmly and carefully reflect. If we are ever disappointed with our own performance, or disappoint a customer by being late with their vehicle we do spend quite a bit of time in discussion and reflection to ensure our normal practices keep the customer informed and updated on the status of their repairs. If a unique set of circumstances surprises us we build in a procedural trap to catch/or prevent it from reoccurring. Additionally, if experience has demonstrated any potential pitfalls that we may encounter on a particular job, we try to convey those risks in the form of additional costs and delays to the customer in advance.

18% Said that they had to take the car back because the repair did not “hold up”

-Many of you have suffered through my rantings about part quality and the need to align your reputation with a brand with quality that bolsters it. Finn Mototech is a Napa Autocare Center installing original equipment quality parts wherever possible. We don’t choose the company with the cheapest part or highest profit margin, instead we choose the part we can feel proud of installing and most importantly confident of its quality and durability. Our constant yearning for techy-knowledge keeps our guys in classes and seminars to ensure proper diagnosis and installation of the right part to begin with.

11% Said that the price was more than originally estimated

-Absolutely not! This is what I tell my customers and my crew. Customer will absolutely not be surprised by price at Finn Mototech period. As a company SOP every repair job is estimated and discussed to the exact dollar amount with the customer before work begins. Prices estimated to customers include taxes, disposal charges, and shop supply incidentals so that any number communicated to a customer is an out-the-door price they can expect to pay. This is especially tough when a customer puts you on the spot and says “give me a rough idea” but our crew has been trained to try to restrain from any loose suggestion of price and we always offer to take the time to work up a specific estimate that we are ready to commit to. Even our customer’s mere curiosity is worth the time to work up an estimate that will be linked and saved in our system so that regardless of who you talk to, price is not a moving target.

8% Said that the car was not clean when it was picked up

-Perhaps my biggest pet peeve! My crew knows well about my training emphasis on knowing if and where you are dirty and being ultimately aware of every painted or interior surface of the car that you touch. Disposable floor mats and seat covers (made from recyclable materials) are always on hand and automatically used on most vehicles.

7% Said that they were sold unnecessary parts

-Training, training, training… We love training and learning about new technology. We’re practically obsessed with getting it right the first time and utilizing advanced diagnostic techniques that are beyond even the techniques taught in factory training. Like oscilloscopes… I was amazed to meet and work with a GM-trained master technician who had accomplished the prestigeous “World-class” factory certification that didn’t even have the slightest idea how to operate an oscilloscope. He owned one, and it sat still in the plastic wrap in his tool box. When I told him to get it out so we could test a circuit, he was confused at how we would watch something as simple as a transient voltage spike. Needless to say, I was no longer impressed by his “world-class” stature. Many automakers want to keep the repairman’s technical acumen as low as possible, you will not find a diagnostic strategy in a factory service manual that involves an oscilloscope. After all “If we expect them to be smart, we’ll probably have to pay them more. Now back to that recall”, is what I imagine the auotmaker-engineering manager saying. For the rest of us, oscilloscopes give us a wealth of information and improved strategy at effectively finding the exact gremlins in your ride.

Beyond our commitment to staying current with technology, we take pride in what we do and value honesty and integrity.

6% Said they were treated poorly by staff

-Not at Finn Mototech. We are all courteous and respectful by nature (thanks to our mothers). We have no ‘bad eggs’ that need to be kept in the corner or avoided when in a bad mood.

4% Said that they had to wait more than 30 minutes to pick up their car

-Actually, we identified this as a common problem amongst auto shops a while ago and decided to establish our own unique approach to tackle the efficiency busting situation in which everything is done but the paperwork. We developed a networked system in which input is collected from every employee involved from any of several terminals located throughout the shop and we implemented standard procedures where distinct data entry opportunities are capitalized on so that we’re always ahead of the game with regard to any after-repair delays.

4% Said that the shop they went to did not honor the warranty

-Well this is simply a non-issue at Finn. Not only do we stand with pride behind our work but with our alliance with Napa as a Napa Autocare Center repairs that we make are covered by a nationwide ‘peace of mind’ warranty that is honored at thousands of locations.

3% Said that they felt taken advantage of because of their gender

-Just ask our wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers… Not at Finn, period. Everyone gets the same high standard of professional treatment.

2% Did not honor a coupon or advertised special

-Thankfully, our advertisements have never written checks that our tools cant cash. We do heavily promote our business with coupons and advertised specials and we also implement unpublished/unadvertised grace periods for every expiration date. On top of that, we honor the purchase price value of and pre-purchased service indefinitely beyond expiration.

Of those who fired their shop

  • 1/2 fired a dealership
  • 1/3rd said it was an independent shop
  • 1/5th said it was a franchise chain (Such as Midas or Big-O)

[Article: 2012, July Issue Consumer Reports]

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Did you know?

Land Rover owners were among the least satisfied with dealer repairs in a Consumer Reports Survey which covered 32 brands

[Article: 2012, July Consumer Reports]

Ever wonder what separates the pros from the not-so’s in auto repair?

A technician is a mechanic who understands intimately the fundamental theory behind the operation and design of the system or part he is servicing. He spends countless hours researching, attending seminars, participating in special training, and searching out knowledge to remain current with rapidly developing automotive technology. He is a diagnostician, capable of methodically troubleshooting complex system malfunctions

A parts-hanger is a handy guy and often, an automotive enthusiast who may have memorized the steps to take when replacing a specific component. His troubleshooting capacity is limited to his experience of, “the last time it did that, this fixed it”.

While one is a legitimate trained professional, the other is merely and assistant. Unfortunately, motivated by money and difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent many shop owners and managers masquerade Parts-Hangers as Technicians. Eventually, perhaps one incident in fifteen visits goes awry as inability to properly diagnose or interpret early signs of an impending failure leads to a customer’s inconvenience, inflated repair costs, and overall bad experience.

When choosing a repair shop, consider that you should be choosing an individual or set of individuals who you deem qualified to provide you competent service. Scrutinize their credentials, qualified professionals love to show off their accolades. Make sure that the shop is a legitimate, insured, tax-paying business that has been accredited by related organizations such as the BBB, ASE, local Chamber, AAA, etc.