Tag Archive for: customer service

Teaching about cars

Today’s show comes on the heals of a comment on Instagram. I posted about the DIY Oil Change video I had done. Someone asked me the following question.

“I get that being famous is cool, but why would you teach people to do what makes you money? Are they paying for the knowledge?”

Let me first say, what I do here has nothing to do with fame. I don’t care about that. I care about helping the folks that are looking to gain insight in to the automotive world.

Join me today as we chat:

  • Teaching something for free, you would normally get paid for
  • The DIY Oil Change video in question.
  • It is about reaching people outside of your dealer
  • Showing how most mechanics and technicians care about your car
  • Inspiring people to learn
  • Not everyone will use a DIY to to the repair.
  • It is about understanding a job
  • How DIY videos HELP dealerships
  • Building trust
  • and more

Trouble viewing? Watch “Why I Teach People About Cars ~ Podcast Episode 91” on Y0uTube.

As always I love to hear your thoughts. Please post them in the comments section below. If you have an idea for a show you can email me, or use the contact me form! Don’t forget to follow me at:

The 5 BEST Ways to Stand Out as a Technician

Hey everyone. Today we are going to look at 5 things a technician can do to stand out to a customer. These are ways to stand out in a positive way. How to bring a little extra valve to what you do. The end goal is to earn a customer for life. With these little tweaks, you and set yourself on a great path to a huge customer base. Funny story about today’s show. You may remember that I have done a few videos with Rusty. Well today was going to be an “in the car” video. But it seems that the GoPro did like the audio setup, and the audio got lost. So today you get me, talking about ways a tech can stand out from the crowd.

Join me today as we break down:

  1. Never be afraid or unwilling to talk to a customer
  2. Be their hero
  3. Leave a personalized note and business card.
  4. Tell them the things they DO NOT need on their car
  5. Show them the value you bring to the relationship.

Trouble viewing? Watch “5 Ways to Stand Out as a Tech ~ Podcast Episode 69” on YouTube.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome. Please post them below. If you would like to suggest a topic for a show like this, email me Charles(at)HumbleMechanic(dot)com, or use the contact me form.

Don’t forget to follow me at:

Why Flat Rate is Good ~ Podcast Episode 64

Hey everyone. Today on the automotive podcast, we are talking about something that I am sure will ruffle a few feathers. That is flat rate. For those of you not familiar with how flat rate works, you can watch a podcast I did called “Getting Paid on Flat Rate” or read a blog post I wrote called “Pros and Cons of Flat Rate“. Wow, remember when I wrote blog posts? Now I highly recommend you watch the entire show before blasting me in the comments section. I understand that many have a very negative view of that system. Try and open your mind a little, and look at it from both sides.

Join me today as we discuss:

  • Flat rate is not ALL bad
  • What is flat rate (see links above)
  • This is NOT pro flat rate propaganda
  • How flat rate is good for techs
  • How flat rate is good for customers
  • How flat rate is good for the shop/dealership
  • Think about the high efficiency jobs
  • QOTD “Is performance based pay, the best pay plan?”
  • and more

Trouble viewing? Watch “Why Flat Rate is Good ~ Podcast Episode 64” on YouTube.

As always I love to hear your thoughts. Please post them in the comments section below. Again, if you have a question for a show like this, email me Charles(at)humblemechanic(dot)com with Question for Charles in the subject. Also if you have an idea for a show you can email me, or use the contact me form!

Don’t forget to follow me at:

Auto Mechanic

Happy Monday everyone. Something happened this weekend, that totally blew me away. The blog had it’s 3rd birthday. Oh how time flies when you are having fun. So today I want to talk about how I got started, and maybe the future of the site.

I had been thinking about starting a blog for while. I got the final push after being frustrated with the way my dealer handled our internet presence. It all worked out of the best. You can read the entire story here. With the help of some You Tube videos and some very talented friends of mine, Humble Mechanic was born.

When I first started the blog I wanted to share a little mk1 VR6 Cabbyabout what an auto mechanic does day to day. Some of the crazy things we see. I also wanted to help folks learn about their cars to avoid getting ripped off. From early on I also wanted to add a project car to the mix. The amount of cool stuff I could share with a project car is almost endless. I have a separate section at the top just click on “Luv A Dub” and you can see the project from day one.

There have been some pretty cool successes(even though I am far from retiring and doing this blog full time 😉 ). I have been able to meet some ultra awesome people. I have had the pleasure of doing a lot of really fun product reviews and giveaways. Those are some of my favorite things to do. I also have a really cool announcement coming at the end of the week. I think you guys are going to be really excited about.

So where do we go from here? There is no way we can not stop all crook mechanics in the world. So we will have to take a different approach. That means keep teaching folks about their cars. Walking folks through the diagnostic process to find the cause of their car’s issues. I am also working on a really cool program that will help you become a permanent part of this community. But more on that later.

So as I finish up, I just want to say a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you. If it was not for you guys there would be no Humble Mechanic. We have come a long was from that crappy first blog post I wrote 3 years ago. There are big things that are going to be happening in the second half of 2014. I am thankful to have you all along for the ride!


One last thing, if you want  a good laugh, check out some of my first posts. YIKES! 🙂


Totaled Volkswagen Passat

Hey everyone, happy Wednesday, it is time for this week’s behind the scenes pictures. Don’t worry, you are not a day behind. It is Thursday, I am just pulling your leg 😉 Shop Shots is just running a day behind this week. Some times things happen and we have to adjust our schedules. All right, now that we know tomorrow is Friday, let’s get in to the insider pictures.

Volkswagen Fuel FilterI really do like when folks do their own thing on their cars. there is nothing wrong, it is just odd. This customer added an inline fuel filter to their car. This filter, in theory, will keep contaminants in the fuel out of the engine. The Passat does not have a serviceable fuel filter. So it actually may work. I wish that I could have talked to the customer about it.

  • Is there a reason that you installed the filter? Was there a failure of some sort that caused you to install it?
  • Have you had to replace it?
  • Have you inspected the filter for debris?

When I see things like this, I have so many questions.

Loose Suspension on VWIf you ever listened to Car talk, you may have heard of Lucinda Bolts(get it, loosen da bolts LOL). The master of guaranteed repeat business. That is not her exact title, but you get the idea. This is a car that came in for a noise while driving. I took it on a test drive, and the noises were more than clear. The sound of loose suspension bolt is some what distinct. This is one of 4 bolts that a technician left loose on this car. Seeing things like this makes me made. A simple post repair test drive, and the tech would have known something was not right. All the more reason to give your mechanic the time to fix your car. Rushing jobs, no matter what the reason, leads to mistakes.

Totaled Volkswagen PassatI posted this on Facebook when it happened. Since many folks are not on FB, I wanted to be sure to share it here as well. This is a pictures of my sister’s Passat. A week or so ago, someone hit her while she was stopped at a red light. She was a bit sore, but not injured. Sadly the damage to the car was severe enough to total it.

Based on the pictures, the damage does not look that bad. But I am not surprised that the car was deemed a total loss.

  1. The car is 14 years old. It didn’t have a ton of value to begin with.
  2. There is a lot of flat surface metal to rework. That may have involved cutting and welding new metal.
  3. Odds are the rear axle beam was shifted. There is very little adjustment to the rear axle. It would have most likely needed to be replaced.
  4. There will be hidden damage.

When you total up just the parts needed, I would be you get close to $1000. The labor to repair the rear quarter panels would be pretty high too. Plus there is always hidden damage. I hate to see this happen to my sister’s car. But it did, and totaling it was the best possible outcome. And most important, I am glad she is okay.(Other than being really mad about her car)

That does it for another volume of Shop Shots. If you missed it yesterday, I did a post about the Eurowise kit I picked up for Project Luv-A-Dub. I also shot a little video review Mk1 Vr6 conversion review. If you are thinking about doing a VR6 swap, check out the video.

Humble Mechanic Logo

It has been so long since we did a Behind The Wrench interview. So I am excited to introduce the first women featured on the blog. If you, or anyone you know in the auto industry, want to be featured in an interview like this just contact me. So without any further delay, take it away Denise


Denise Cook

How long have you been in the Industry?

eighteen years

What is your current job title?

Service writer/tech

What were you doing for your first automotive job?

I was helping restore motorcycles, and cars, cleaning parts.

Do you currently work at a Dealer, or in an aftermarket shop?

Aftermarket` we own our our business, have for 18 years.

Do you prefer one over the other?

Never worked at a dealership, but my husband had before we opened our own business. I think there are pros and cons for both.

Walk us through what you do on a daily basis.

I wear a lot of different hats through out the day, it all depends on what is needed for me to do. Usually I come to the office around 7:00-7:30 a.m. I prepare for the day by checking messages for appointments or cancellations..I check the inventory and order what is needed. Once we are opened I talk to the customers about what is going on with there vehicle if they are dropping it off, or go through the repair if they are picking it up. I show them pictures and/or videos of their car repair, or what we found. If we are checking out a vehicle,I tell them I will give them a call with an estimate if it is not known at the time as to cost. After checking the vehicle over, I will estimate cost of repairs and give the customer a call with different options if there are any available. As far as repair work goes, I do mainly services ( coolant flushes, transmission service, belts, brakes etc) and I help the tech.’s by what is needed done ( help bleeding the systems, getting tools, cleaning parts,stripping cylinder heads for pressure testing etc) I search TSB . I also talk to the customers when they call and set up appointments. If a customer is waiting, I will sometimes bring them into the shop and show them what is going on with their vehicle When needed I will pick up parts, make a bank run, pick up customers. then after work, I do the book work. We get home usually, when were busy, around 7.00 at night.


When you are not working on or with cars, what do you like to do?

Lots! I love cooking, riding bikes, hiking, gardening and being with my kids and grand kids.

What kind of car do you drive?

A 2002 Toyota Camry.

What was your first car?

Spitfire TR3

What made you want to work on cars?

My first car was a sports car, and my dad wanted me to know how to work on it. So he taught me a few things. Then after I was married, my husband had motorcycles that he spent time on so, I decided if I wanted to spend time with him,I would learn about them. It went from there to cars and when he opened his own shop I quit my job to help him.


What is the weirdest thing that you have found in a car, that should not have been there?

A dead cat in the back seat, extremely smelling up the whole car.

Do you have much customer interaction?

Yes I do.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Talking with the customers. we have made a lot of good friends from our customers

If giving the chance, what would you never do again at work?

Being in a car while it is UP on the lift while its being worked on ( or for any other reason ). Luckily that doesn’t happen much. but I hate when it does!

The auto industry has a really bad rap, what do you say to someone who thinks you are trying to take advantage of them?

Well it depends on WHY they think we are trying to take advantage of them. If they think because we are charging more then some one else had quoted them, I let them know WHAT we are going to do that is different. Factory parts, full maintenance, proper fluids. That they need to compare apples to apples, not oranges. Not all repair is the same. If they want the cheapest price, then we are not the place. But if they want quality work, and the best parts for the job, an 18 month unlimited mileage warranty and someone who cares about their work, then we are here for them.

Of all the maintenance that cars need, what is the ONE that will keep my car healthy the longest?

Most people neglect their cooling systems. A vehicle might be able to GO a hundred miles without flushing the cooling system, but what harm has it done to the system. If they want to keep their vehicle long term, regular maintenance of the system needs to happen.

How important is reading your vehicles owners manual?

Very important. You should know the systems of your car and how they work and what needs to be done and when.

Have you read the owners manual to your car?

Yes I have.


What tool in your tool box do you use the most?

It depends on the job, but air ratchet and wrench

Is there a brand of tool that you prefer?

No. But like quality made tools

If you could only use 3 tools from now on, what would they be (and why)?

They would have to be the very basic tools. Screw drivers, wrenches and pry bar.


If you were building a “James Bond” car, what is the one thing you would add it?

I don’t watch James Bond so no idea.

You are sending your kid off to college, what car would you buy for them?

Our youngest son went off to college in his dream car, a Camero! he still has it too.

What is the one thing that you want folks to know about your job that they might not know?

I think that media has it played out that most technicians are dirty, stupid, fowl mouthed, dishonest, and if your a women in the industry, your even more so that way.. They don’t expect you to be a lady with any intelligence on mechanical things.Where that might hold true once in awhile, it is most diffidently not true for the most part. I am proud of what I know and do. I find it quite humorous that when people first meet me they don’t expect me to not know anything, especially men.

Well folks, there you have it. Great look in to the industry from Denise.

Humble Mechanic Logo

Just like many other jobs, being an auto mechanic is a pretty dynamic job. It is a far cry from the “punch the clock, do the same task, then go home” type job. Because of that I want to talk about what an average day looks like.

At my dealer we are all general service mechanics. That means we all do every job in the shop. Some shops will have a transmission guy, the one that rebuilds all the trans missions. Or the diagnostic guy. They will figure out the problems with cars, then send it to another tech to make the repair. I prefer the setup that we have. It keeps the day interesting. It is common to do an oil change on a car, then diagnose a check engine light, them do some tire work.

An average work day may go something like this:

  • Perform a 10,000 miles service on a newer car
  • Oil change, rotate tire on a 2008 VW
  • Diagnose a check engine light
  • Perform a 20,000 mile service on a newer car
  • Oil change
  • Oil change, rotate tires
  • Oil change, state inspection,
  • 40,000 mile service
  • Replace a headlight bulb
  • Replace a tail light bulb

This number of cars in a day would actually be fairly busy. That does not account for things that we find wrong with cars when they come in the shop. Things like worn out wiper blades, brakes and light bulbs are the most common things we find when cars come into the shop.

As I go back and read that, it would be a pretty good and easy day. On the not so typical days, anything can happen. Last week I spent almost the entire day diagnosing a 2013 Jetta hybrid that would randomly shut off. The next day I wrote up 2 estimates that totaled almost $18,000. That is not something I a bragging about. I do not like writing those type of estimates. One of those cars was a 99 Passat that had been neglected. The other was an 09 EOS. It had an issue with the top not opening properly. It was actually the first time I have seen an EOS top fail mechanically.

That is pretty much want a standard day as a VW tech looks like. Of course if I had to pick a perfect day, it would involve doing jobs that pay really well. Some might say that would get boring and they may be right. But as much as I love doing what I do, I go to work everyday to earn a paycheck. 😉

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