Happy Customers Tell You a Good Plaece!
Host: Robert, in your experience, when consumers are looking for a shop, they’re looking for an auto repair shop, car repair, what should they be looking for in the shop itself? If you were to go, you know, if you’re driving somewhere, you find yourself in another town and you had a car repair need, what would you do? How would you find a shop? How would you investigate it?
Robert: First off, I would look them up online, see, how well are they treating their customers. And the review sites are a perfect way to see that. Next, once you’ve narrowed that down, give them a call. How do they talk to you? Do they treat you with respect and kindness, and are they helpful?
Host: So you’re saying, call before you even go there to check them out?
Robert: I would. Call them. Schedule an appointment. See how that feels. How’s the vibe? After that, you’re then gonna go in, and you’re gonna see, you know, how’s the cleanliness of the shop? Are they busy? If a shop is not busy, there’s a reason why. Yeah, it can be something…
Host: So you think most shops should…you should see cars there most of the time, that they’re turning those cars around?
Robert: It’s kind of like a hamburger place. Let’s say, In-N-Out, In-N-Out is always busy, right?
Host: A fine hamburger place.
Robert: In-N-Out is always busy.
Host: They are.
Robert: And you notice, they use the best quality ingredients. They do a good job.
Host: They make a great burger.
Robert: They make a great burger.
Host: No question.
Robert: So if you imagine… Yeah, that’s what I would do. I would first check review sites, see how well they treat other people, because no one’s perfect. Not everyone is always gonna like you. Not everyone is gonna… No shops are gonna be five-stars all the time.
Host: I’ve never seen a five-star shop, actually.
Robert: No, not with more than 10 reviews, right?
Host: Right, right.
Robert: There’s a couple, you know, but I mean, it’s hard to please everyone. I know I do my darnedest, but not everyone is gonna like me, and that’s just a fact of life. But we do our best. We treat people with kindness and respect. And communication is such an important thing in a repair shop because everyone needs their car yesterday, and there are a ton of problems.
Things come up and the mechanic needs to be quick on his feet to handle those issues. The guy behind the counter that you talk to, who’s organizing everything, he needs to be on his toes, talking to vendors and talking to the client, and saying, “You know what? I’m expecting ‘this time’, your car to be done.” But if he over-promises and under-delivers, that’s a problem.
Host: The customer is going to notice that.
Robert: The customer is gonna notice that, and they’re gonna say, “Hey, I have to have dinner done by 5:00. I need to pick up the kids. I need to get to work tomorrow.” And if he hasn’t called you and you don’t know, that’s a problem. So staying in communication is a key component to a good repair shop.
Host: Do you have any sense, over the years, perhaps you’ve heard stories from other shops or experiences that other people have had, things that really irk them or bother them about auto repair shops?
Robert: Yes. One of the main things that I hear a lot is, “I was told one price, and I came in to pick it up, and it was way more.”
Host: Totally different price.
Robert: Totally different price. Nobody likes that.
Host: How does that happen?
Robert: Well, it’s not supposed to happen. I don’t know how it does, but apparently, it’s happening in some places.
Host: But at Doctor of Motors, you give people a written estimate, have them understand it, sign off on that, correct?
Host: And that should be the number.
Robert: Legally, we’re not allowed to go beyond the limit of what you approve. So if you come in and say, “Hey, I need my oil changed,” I write the information down, saying, “We’re gonna replace your oil, and top off your fluids, and inspect your vehicle to make sure it’s fine.” And I’d say, “It costs $37.” If you come in and I say, “You owe $500,” you don’t have to pay that.
Host: You’re right. I probably won’t.
Robert: Right. So that’s how it goes. You get your written estimate in the beginning. You approve a certain amount. So when you say, “Yes, I understand that $37 is gonna get my oil changed,” then you’re done and good. When the shop calls back and says, “Hey, we see your brakes are metal-to-metal. That grinding noise that you were asking about, your brakes are metal-to-metal, so you need brakes.” You approve the brake job. Let’s say it’s $200, $300, you approve that. It should be no more than the $200 or $300 that you approved. That’s it.
Host: But at some shops, that has happened.
Robert: At some shops, it has happened, and that’s the reason why there’s the rules.
Host: Sure, sure.
Host: Is there anything else that you hear from customers about how they ended up at Doctor or Motors, beyond price?
Robert: You know, one of the main things that I hear right away is, when you call a shop, you can tell right away, how they treat you, how they talk to you, is it gonna be a good experience. And if you get a bad vibe from that phone call, or they didn’t answer all your questions correctly, if you just felt like it wasn’t a good fit for you, trust me, it’s not going to be a good fit for you. That’s a great indication. Call them up and see how it is.
Why Auto Repair Shop’s Parts Are Pricier Than Online Store?
Host: I have a question about parts. Getting the parts for the vehicle, sometimes it seems like more difficult to get a hold of or there’s some kind of delay with parts. Are all shops buying from the same sources, essentially, or do some shops have a fast-track way to get parts?
Robert: There’s so many places to get parts. One of the things that the shops will do is try to buy from the local vendors who are gonna stand behind their parts because…
Host: In terms of the warranty on the parts?
Robert: In terms of the warranty, because, remember, a lot of these parts, they’re… Not many places in America make things these days, so we’re getting our parts from different countries. That’s just how it is. It’s where they’re available. That’s where they make them. So, sometimes, they have high failure rates. Power-sharing pumps are one of these things that just have high failure rates because you can’t necessarily buy them new. They’re rebuilt, but there’s plenty of companies that make them rebuilt. Some don’t do very good of a job, and some do a better job, but again, the product, in the beginning, isn’t very high-quality. So if you… Let’s say you buy that part from eBay, okay? You got a great deal on it, but as soon as you buy it or as soon as you pay that money, they could care less. You’re never gonna be able to return it to them again.
Host: It’s over.
Robert: It’s over. Yeah, that’s one of the things I don’t like about using eBay. But the local vendors here will stand behind the shop, then the shop is able to stand behind their parts, and everyone’s happier.
Robert: So yeah, you’re gonna pay a little bit more than if you would have gone to go buy it yourself, but the thing is, is that repair shop, if they have to replace that part again, they’re not gonna charge you.
Host: Under the warranty period.
Robert: Under the warranty period.
Host: Well, that’s an important thing to know.
Host: So what do you do, Robert, at Doctor of Motors, if there’s a car comes in, it needs a certain part, but the part is not readily available? How do you handle that and leave someone without a car for a few days? Is there any…
Robert: There’s a few things we can do. If the car is drivable, or if the vehicle’s drivable, then we’ll say…we’ll try to button it up so that you’re driving your car. And then, I receive the part later on, and then call you when it’s ready. If not, if it’s one of those things where the car isn’t able to move, then our hands are tied, as well.
Host: From a safety perspective, or just as in function?
Robert: Just as a functional aspect.