Folks, we all know there are shops out there with an unfavorable reputation, sometimes due to mechanics that may take consequential short cuts, or just lack of customer relations from support staff. On the flip side, there are many good shops...even GREAT shops, ones with technicians that take pride in their work and understand true service excellence. However, mistakes happen! Even the most well respected and experienced technician can make a mistake. We are all human! We, SoCal Auto, believe it is how these mistakes are dealt with, that divide the good service from great.
This picture was taken by us to assist a new client in getting her issue resolved after a local “good” shop performed a recent repair. The story goes: Less than four months ago she had oil change done at reputable local shop. Upon a routine inspection, they advised on fixing an axle leak. The repair was done that same day and all was well. At least, that’s what she hoped for. A little over three months later, she stopped into a quick lube station for a routine oil change and was advised she had a rear axle seal leak. Noticing it was on the same side as the previous repair, she took it back to the shop that performed the initial repair. After a quick inspection, the shop manager advised her it was not covered under their warrant due to "the seal that is leaking this time is not the same seal that failed last time, even though it is on the same side” and assured her the tech couldn't have done anything wrong on the first repair.
😳 Wait, what?!
The shop owner ended up giving her an estimate almost equal to the initial repair stating “it is a good price given there are more parts involved this time.” She declined the additional repair and contacted us a few days later after receiving a referral from a coworker. We soon had the vehicle in our shop where we found a damaged seal causing the issue. Yes, it was a new seal, but most likely damaged on installation. We quickly had it repaired and am happy to say, we added one more valued client to our team.
This told story is not to slam other shops. This is not a rant, nor is this just an attempt at writing an entertaining story. Furthermore, we do not seek unfortunate events for the opportunity to "steal" customers. We believe this could have been handled in different ways by the shop owner and staff. Playing defense right out the gate is not the best way. This shop had the golden opportunity to turn this situation into a positive one. The customer could have skipped going back and just hit them with some negative online reviews instead.
Stories like this are common though. Some of you may even have one similar. My friends, if it doesn't feel right, sound right, or look right, please say something. Don't ignore that GUT feeling! Situations like this can get ugly. Losing a temper on either side won’t help things. It is sad that the customer had to take the high road and just cut the loses. Many people avoid confrontation in these situations for a number of reasons. Maybe they don't want to insult someone's intelligence or second guess that person because there is some long standing history there. These are normal feelings. However, situations like this are what fuel our drive to make changes in the industry. This is why we push for transparency and promote educating the customer. We don't do it to "showboat" our experience or knowledge. We don't do it because we think we are superior to other shop. We do it because we actually care. We care about the customer, their vehicle, and what kind of treatment they are getting from people that represent this industry. You may not be one of our regular clients or have even stepped foot in our shop, but we are always available to answer questions and give our best advice. It's amazing how little things like a few minute phone conversation can make a huge difference for someone.
Every day, we work with other local repair facilities to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, whether for their customer or ours. No technician, manager, service writer, or shop owner can possibly know everything about everything. Digging the heels into the ground and instantly going into defense mode because pride is on the line, does not help any situation. Keeping an open mind, attentively listening to a customer, and being willing to take advice from colleagues are probably the most undervalued tools to have in a shop. As the owner of SoCal Auto, I can happily say, these are the tools I started with before I ever rolled a tool box in and they will continue to be my most valued ones.
So, is your mechanic good....or Great?