About Auto Service 101

     Having been in the automotive industry for 20 years I have seen some pretty questionable practices. Things that I did not agree with and still do not agree with. The first 9 years I was in this business I worked for a dealership that was very reputable. They had at the time been around for 50 years. Several of their employees at the time had worked for them for 20 plus years, three of which had been there for 30 years. That says a lot for a dealership or any business for that matter. The thing that was unique about this dealer though was that they NEVER advertised! You heard me right, they never advertised. All of their business was word of mouth. That simply does not happen in this day and age. Sad thing is they have changed to be just like all the others. They lost the family attitude and started acting like some corporation. Bad move!! Big corporations have ruined the automotive business but in many ways they had issues from the very beginning. In my opinion greed has a lot to do with it.

     Unfortunately for all the consumers out there, it makes it tough to know who to trust. There are so many choices and you hear all those horror stories. Most of these stories are true. I have seen them in action and I have heard many complaints from customers as to all of the BS that goes on out there in the automotive world. I am sure a lot of people reading this will agree. You probably have stories of your own. (I am sure there are also many people with good experiences to.) The dealerships (and all those independent shops) have figured out ways to fool you, the consumer. They are very good at it to. The ones that you have to worry about most are the ones that you think you can trust. The last dealership I worked with was considered by many to be a very reputable dealership. Little did they know! Some of the people that I worked with there where the biggest crooks that I have ever worked with. There were times where I could not believe my ears as to what they would tell people. Crazy thing was that these people believed every word!! You have to understand that some of these people would probably steal from their mom and have a smile on their face the whole time. Scary!

     You are probably thinking that I am anti-car dealership?? Actually I am all for the dealerships. I just think they need to change the way they do business. The reason I know they need to change is because as a whole the automotive dealerships have the lowest customer retention in the business world. For the 20 years I have worked in dealerships, this is all you heard about. The problem is that most of these dealers do not think outside the box. They are old school. They want to get as much out of you as possible in just one visit. It's as if they already know you are not coming back. We will get into all that later, it is pretty interesting stuff.

     I believe that car dealerships should be the only place you would ever want to bring your vehicle in for service work. Sounds pretty contradictory, doesn’t it? Just hear me out. To start with, you probably purchased your vehicle from a dealer (not so true anymore but go with it...). In most peoples eye's the dealer is as close to the manufacturer you can get. Maybe they did not make the car but they service them, and sell them, don't they? Are they not supposed to be the EXPERTS?? You should ultimately be able trust your dealer just like you trust your doctor (well you should be able to trust your doctor). Sad thing is that people will trust some little shop with their 2009 vehicle, even though the last time that guy had any training on your particular car was probably never!! I am sure I will piss some technicians off out there but it is true (please do not get me wrong because there are some good techs out there but none of them could ever know everything about every vehicle, especially in to days market). A technician who works on GM vehicles has no business working on a Honda, period! Most good technicians know this and do not want to work on vehicles that they do not work on a daily basis. When you go to these independent chain shops I am sorry to tell you but they are not experts with your vehicle (unless they specialize but even then only with certain model years and sure they can do some types of work but why would you want several places working on your vehicle – Do you typically go to several different doctors’ offices or do you have one primary doctor?).  I have seen it to many times where a customer comes in and has spent hundreds of dollars trying to fix a drive ability issue and have seen more than one other shop finally one of the places they had brought it to tells them they need to bring it to the dealer. You should have started there to begin with, you would have saved a lot of time and money. Remember the dealership works on these vehicles every day. They go to training through the factory (at least they are supposed to; we will talk about this later also)! 9 times out of 10 they know what’s wrong with your vehicle as soon as they see the complaint. Independent shops are at a disadvantage, yet people trust them above the dealership. The dealerships should be the experts but they gave themselves a bad name a long time ago. They dug the hole so deep they can't get out. Why can't they or the manufacturers see this???

    The problem with car dealerships today is trust. Trust is something you have to earn and most of them have not. My ultimate goal is to change the way the dealerships think. To change how they do business. I want to see their customer retention go from less the 30% up to 90%. It is possible, they just don't see it because their getting sold a bunch of BS from outside consulting companies that say they know how to increase the dealerships profits and increase their customer retention. It’s not working and has not worked for the 20 years I have been in the business! Most of these companies don't even have an employee that worked in the industry! So the problem is that the dealerships and manufacturers keep buying into these programs year after year and nothing changes. Open your eyes and smell the coffee guys!!

     This blog is hopefully just the beginning. I hope to eventually have a web site that will be a place for the consumer to go for real honest answers. A place that will help keep the dealerships in line. I have been working on this idea for 10 years and I know it can work. It will just take some time. I hope that this blog is a stepping stone for bigger and better things to come. I want to see this industry change for the better. My first goal is to educate the public. To teach people the ins and the outs of the business. With knowledge comes power and I want to empower as many people as I can. As people start to understand how things work the dealerships and the manufacturers will have to start to change. If they open their eyes they may see that this change will be to their advantage!

     If you need any advice or have questions once again feel free to contact me. Comments are always appreciated.

Thanks for your time and enjoy, there is more to come!!

The Automotive Wise Guy