Tom Denton: Things I wish I knew then… Part 3

…that I know now!


The word quality should be applied in two ways – first  is that all work should be to a high standard, but secondly, the parts used should be good fit for purpose too. There are always variations but you will have much less trouble and far fewer comebacks if you fit OEM or OEM approved parts.

Figure 5 Quality job, quality parts (Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay)

We should never fit customer supplied parts. Not only does this reduce your profit, but it can still leave you responsible when something goes wrong. I know all the stories about customers buying them cheaper than we can, but that is their problem not ours – if they buy them, they can fit them. They are not the type of customer you want anyway, especially the ones who say they could do it themselves but they don’t have time. What they really mean is they don’t have the time, the equipment or the skills!

Sometimes we just need to say no!

Just say no!

How to say no: Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth at the front and make a ‘NNNN’ noise through your nose, after a second, take your tongue off the roof of your mouth and change the sound to ‘OOOO’ through your mouth, and after a second, stop. You see, physically, it is easy!

Why then is it sometimes so difficult to do?

Figure 6 Just say no! (Image by Tumisu from Pixabay)

Almost all the jobs I did where I bent over backwards to help a customer, were the ones that went wrong and caused problems. I did the job cheaper than I should have done. I knew it was not the sort of work I wanted. I should have had a strategy, but most of all I just needed to say no.

Here are a few things to practice saying:

  • No, we do not fit second hand parts
  • No, we do not fit parts you supply
  • No, we do not work on Sunday
  • No, our hourly rate does not reduce because you are hard up (or you are just about to go on an expensive Caribbean holiday – as one customer once told me!).

This leads me to a way of thinking that back then, I didn’t have, and that is to really understand that when a customer has a problem with their car, it is their problem not mine!

Now we have our pricing, quality and other ducks lined up, and we know how to say no, we need a business plan! More on this in the next article.

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