Our first customer complaint. Did I screw up?

Ws6

Messages
3,906
Location
South Central US
Yes, you did this wrong. If you allow it, people will use you to death. Literally. You should have a mechanic's lean, stuck to fair values, etc. Your time and resources are valuable. You were honest. You deserve the pay. This customer will now leave negative reviews of how you came in over budget and behind schedule, anyway. You should have firmly required fair compensation.
 

JC1

Messages
6,110
Location
Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Lesson learned. You did great work, next time increase the prices of these jobs.

As for the oil change, save some of the used oil and use it for top offs for guys like this. They don't deserve freebies.

1616632354528.png
 

Ws6

Messages
3,906
Location
South Central US
In cases like this, always ask yourself....is this customer a better human than I am? Do they deserve my money and time and effort more than I do? Should I consider it a privilege to serve them to my own detriment?

Maybe this customer fought a stray dog off your boy. Maybe the answer is "Yes, I owe this person." But if its not? Stop being a willing participant in your own degradation.


Let's say I'll DM 50 people here and tell them you're a bad person if you dont paypal me $20. Does that thought make you want to pay me $20? Or does it make you bristle. Apply the concept to this dirtbag who took you on this job.
 
Messages
5,680
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
We charge $80 an hour because we do this on the side. We both have "real jobs." His job can be unpredictable, and can best be described as an 'on call' status even while on duty. Due to that, we tend to take longer on some jobs than usual. This is always disclosed beforehand. This is also the answer to clinebarger's question...we sometimes take less than book hours to allow us to take our time and do a good job. We'd rather short ourselves a bit & take more time than rush and run into problems. Basically, we'd rather spend 2 hours on a 1 hour book job and charge the customer only 45 minutes for the inconvenience. It's that old saying: good, cheap, fast...choose two. We are not fast. He takes satisfaction in the flexible time schedule. I take satisfaction in knowing we're the cheapest.

You're already undercharging on your "door rate", $100 an hour is about minimum....Even in the rural South!!!! By giving away parts & labor on top of that....You're burning the candle at both ends.

People can wait, I make it a point not to promise anything the same day even when I can easily do it......If one want's instant gratification, They're at the wrong shop.

We need to take in consideration how flawed "Book Time" IS.......Toyota pays really good, FCA/Chrysler usually pays less than actual time. I adjust these to maintain a 125% efficiency rate. Honda, Ford & GM labor times generally hit that spot on. I'm not going to hit a Toyota owner for 8 hours when it takes 4, And I'm not taking a bath on a FCA/Chrysler vehicle because they like to screw their dealer techs.

I want you to succeed, Not just scrap by. There's a balance/symmetry to be found here but it's unique to every situation/location/customer base.
I did side work when I was working my regular job, But never tried to run a shop after hours. I simply decided to spend my life savings & most of my retirement fund on building & opening my own garage full time. Best decision I ever made as I paid myself back in 18 months.
 
Messages
1,651
Location
MN
You're already undercharging on your "door rate", $100 an hour is about minimum....Even in the rural South!!!! By giving away parts & labor on top of that....You're burning the candle at both ends.

People can wait, I make it a point not to promise anything the same day even when I can easily do it......If one want's instant gratification, They're at the wrong shop.

We need to take in consideration how flawed "Book Time" IS.......Toyota pays really good, FCA/Chrysler usually pays less than actual time. I adjust these to maintain a 125% efficiency rate. Honda, Ford & GM labor times generally hit that spot on. I'm not going to hit a Toyota owner for 8 hours when it takes 4, And I'm not taking a bath on a FCA/Chrysler vehicle because they like to screw their dealer techs.

I want you to succeed, Not just scrap by. There's a balance/symmetry to be found here but it's unique to every situation/location/customer base.
I did side work when I was working my regular job, But never tried to run a shop after hours. I simply decided to spend my life savings & most of my retirement fund on building & opening my own garage full time. Best decision I ever made as I paid myself back in 18 months.
This is so true. My shop rate is $115 an hour, $150 an hour if you supply your own parts (or it's an insurance deal, or an extended warranty). When I do the rare side job, I charge $50 an hour. I only take on small jobs, but I still have to supply my own tools and labor. Yes, I'm under-charging, but it's all profit anyways. At work, my commission off that $115 is 30%. So a little less than $40. Take out taxes, insurance, uniform cleaning, etc. an I'm at $20 an hour easy.

Side work is good money if you can make it;
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
394
Location
Oklahoma
I would have updated yesterday, but it's allergy season here and I've been in bad shape for the past 48 hours.

Long story short, the vehicle was completed. They called me the next morning to ask if they could come get it. Then I received an apology for the "outburst" the other day, and they explained I just caught them at a bad time (which I immediately said in my head "then why did you fix it NOW"). They told me to please adjust the ticket back to the original amount, because it wouldn't be fair to us. I told them I gave my word on providing the fan, and that won't change. They tried to be assertive on changing the ticket. Due to the relief I felt washing my hands of the profit previously, I decided the most fair thing to do was to take the original ticket amount, then take the reduced ticket amount, and meet in the middle. I still made something, they still should be happy receiving a discounted ticket, and I can still sleep at night. They did seem to be grateful. They also claimed they'd be back to do some other things, which we all decided was alright, but obviously we'll be more cautious. Bid higher, quote all variables, and hope it finishes cheaper.

We decided to operate on a "two strikes, you're out" policy, unless the first is just so bad that there's no need for a second chance. With the apology and the genuine attempt to pay the original amount, we felt they were worthy of a second chance. Time will tell...
 
Messages
8,104
Location
MI
Oilmagnate, I can empathize with you because my business sense is similar to yours. If I am reading this right, your nature is to get enjoyment pleasing others doing something that you enjoy. It makes you feel good providing a service that provides value and helps people, almost to a fault. I often spend extra time and materials and don't charge enough. It makes me feel good. Even after all of this, you decided that you would work with this person again. It's being too compassionate. I work with others that don't even blink an eye charging the proper amount for time and materials. I hope you develop a balance that is fair to both you and your customers.

By the way, I compliment you for your sense of doing things right and being a genuine good person.
 
Messages
414
Location
Central NY
Last time someone came talking about a trans swap on a old BMW. They supplied parts(first mistake) and 2nd they didn’t understand the costs of changing a trans. Seems like everybody wants DIY prices with professional labor. Long story short things went downhill when the customer was told they needed another $300 for ATF/program(would’ve been $1200 OTD for the customer). Cops called and had to threaten a mechanics lien.

policy now is to charge for ALL of the work, and if some isn’t required the we can deal with the bill later. No point in accepting a customer that wants it done cheap. Rarely ever turns out good.
 
Last edited:
Messages
362
Location
BC Canada
I know that you are in the USA, and the dollar is stronger there. But still don't know how you do it for just 80/hr.
I now work Sundays at a shop, we charge $140 plus taxes, and the shop rate is going up soon my boss told me. We aren't the cheapest, or most expensive, but my boss is obsessed with doing it right the first time.
 
Messages
322
@OilMagnate

Wow you are an upstanding person. So much respect, and it's nice to see that the customer was at least willing to
concede they were out of line with their behavior and expectations on the bill.

I wish we had some like you out here in the Southeast. A good competent, honest mechanic is impossible to find here. I've looked hard too.
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
394
Location
Oklahoma
Oilmagnate, I can empathize with you because my business sense is similar to yours. If I am reading this right, your nature is to get enjoyment pleasing others doing something that you enjoy. It makes you feel good providing a service that provides value and helps people, almost to a fault. I often spend extra time and materials and don't charge enough. It makes me feel good. Even after all of this, you decided that you would work with this person again. It's being too compassionate. I work with others that don't even blink an eye charging the proper amount for time and materials. I hope you develop a balance that is fair to both you and your customers.

By the way, I compliment you for your sense of doing things right and being a genuine good person.
Nailed it. Reading this was actually quite chilling. I believe we've found that balance. We're not making millions, but aren't stupid either. If we wanted to make a ton of money we'd go above board, but that isn't in the cards for now. This is also a major reason we can get away with only charging $80/hr...no overhead.
 
Messages
8,104
Location
MI
If you can manage to maintain passion and enjoyment through the bumps and bruises it will generate personal satisfaction and rewards far greater than the pursuit of only wealth and material possessions - the unconventional opinion of someone who took "a road less traveled" in life. That has been my modus operandi since my teen years and 46 years later I have very few regrets.

Realize that I am a bit cracked in the head. I.E., I don't mind owning the first vehicle in this picture vs. my son-in-law's behind it, LOL:
IMG_2698.JPG
 
Last edited:
Messages
3,856
Location
Chicagoland
Handled perfectly and professionally! As for them waiting to apologize for their outburst, and this is coming from an introvert… they probably felt they were on thin ice with you guys (and rightfully so) and didn’t want to bother you after embarrassing themselves.
 
Top