How honest mechanics get paid

Hey everyone. Today I want to tell you a story, then ask the question “If you were a mechanic, how would you handle it”. Like so many things, there is somewhat of a grey area when recommending services to customers. Here is the story

A customer came in for a 50,000 mile service. It is a pretty basic service. We normally change the engine oil, and filter. We perform a wheel balance and rotation, and do a full visual inspection.

When the service advisor checks a car in, the also check the tread depth on the tires. These tires are right at the wear bars. That means they need to be replaced.

Balancing the tires will do nothing for the car. It will not prolong the life of the tires or improve the ride quality. The tires are just plain worn out. The customer does not want to buy new tires at this time.

As a service department, we have a few different options that we can do with this car. We can

  1. Perform the service as the customer needed, or was told he needed
  2. Say we performed the service, but do not rotate and balance the tires.
  3. Off the customer a (very) slight discount to perform the service minus the rotate and balance
  4. Tell the customer to just do and oil change. We do a 27 point inspection on all the cars we look at.

Now that you know the story, and have the options listed out, I will ask the question “What would you want your mechanic to do?”. I personally would prefer the customer perform an oil change only. In my mind there is no point in paying for an unneeded service. That includes the rotate and balance of those tires.

Please let me know what you would do. Am I nuts for un-selling work? Remember that most mechanics get paid on Flat rate. If you are not sure how flat rate works see “How Auto Mechanics get paid“. I really want to know what you guys think.

So what really makes an honest mechanic? Being honest of course. 🙂 I just want to tell you how this subject came about. I will tie it together, just hang with me, it will all make sense.~Promise~

When I first started this blog, I started listening to a really great business podcast called “Five Minutes with Jack”. He gives great motivation to keep blogging and building an awesome brand. Jack is one of the main reasons that you guys get a post every day. 😉 On top of using social media like, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and G+ to my blog out there, the show talks about using SEO(search engine optimization) to get your brand out there. One of the main things is finding a few keywords you want associated with your brand.

That got me thinking, what do I want my brand to be known as. Of course if someone searches for the term “Humble Mechanic” odds are they are not looking for me. So the word that kept coming up is HONEST. Maybe I should have called the site Honest Mechanic. Well, all that talk about honest got me thinking, what really makes and honest mechanic..

It all starts here. Communication is a skill that is so important, and very underrated. The ability to talk to customers in a way that helps them understand is where a lot of guys fall short. I have talked about mechanics not wanting to talk to customers before, and I firmly believe they are wrong. Talking to customers is one of my favorite parts of my job. I love teaching people about there car. I don’t care if it’s as simple as programming presets on their radio, or talking about advanced computer diagnostics. I do my best to explain things in a way that anyone can understand, even if they know nothing about cars. If your mechanic will not take the time to explain what they are doing, then I would question how honest they really are.

I guess it goes with out saying that you can’t be an honest mechanic if you have no integrity. This one might be a little tricky to find out right away. I can tell you that there are countless ways for a mechanic to “cheat”. Charging customers to replace parts then not replace them, selling services that are not really needed, charging too much in labor hours for a job are all things that I have seen happen. So how do you know if your mechanic has points in the integrity department? I find that asking is a great technique.

  • Do I REALLY need this?
  • Do I need to do this repair today?
  • What will happen if I don’t repair it now
  • Can you show me what you are talking about?

These are some questions that I would ask every time, unless you are talking about an oil change or something really simple like that.

Good communication and a high level of integrity do not mean a whole lot if a mechanic has no skill. You are bringing your car to get serviced, they better know how to do the work. From all of my years working on cars, I have found that the mechanics with the least amount of skill tend to not be so honest. Earning money as a mechanic is not easy, even if you are good, it’s a tough job. Now take a mechanic that is not very good, they almost have to lie cheat and steal to make money.

Be sure to swing by the forum. Remember, if you do not get approved right away contact me and let me know. I try to keep it free of spam, and I don’t want to miss anyone.

Also, swing by Jack’s site, and post a comment to let him know I sent ya 😉 I really do owe a lot to him, and it would be a great way to say thanks.