When economic times are tough, people want the cheapest parts installed on their vehicles, right? You may be surprised to hear that in the many conversations I’ve had with both counter professionals and technicians over the past several months during this economic crisis, the overarching theme has been that motorists are requesting and inquiring about quality parts on their vehicles. The reason is simple: They want to make their vehicles last longer because they can’t afford to get new ones.
I trust my repair shop implicitly. Regardless, every time I talk to the service manager, we do a little dance on the telephone. It’s called the “he-doesn’t-want-to-give-me-the-bad-news-dance.” It’s the dance almost anyone in his position performs. After all, who wants to call a customer and tell them about a whopper of a bill? I can hardly blame him because he’s been conditioned to be fearful of making that call. For years, he’s dealt with customers who can’t or won’t fully appreciate the costs of properly repairing an automobile. He’s endured swearing, shouting and questions like, “Why does that cost so much?” and “Do I really need a master cylinder?” These days, the economy is forcing a change in that mentality.
For me, I’ve never been that customer. Why? Because I understand the true value of getting the job done correctly the first time. It’s about using parts from reputable manufacturers that people know by name. It’s because when I’m cruising down the highway at 65 mph with my daughter in her car seat and need to slam on the brakes, I’m confident that the name brand pads I had installed will stop the car when I need them to. I don’t want to be the guy who, while thrilled at getting a $99 brake job, ends up smashed like an accordion into the back of a tractor-trailer because his brake pedal went to the floor and nothing happened.
It’s probably one of the most often-stated and absolutely true old adages in the world you get what you pay for. And there’s another adage that applies here: Garbage in, garbage out. When a customer gets his or car repaired, at the lowest possible price and using the cheapest possible parts, somehow, somewhere, a reputation suffers. It might not be an immediate impact, but surely, slowly, problematic parts on vehicles tell little stories to their drivers. They don’t use words, of course. But problematic parts lets their drivers know through squeaks, grinding and sometimes, failure, that the fantastic $99 brake job will actually cost a lot more than $99 in the long run.
Well, in these challenging economic times, motorists are gearing more toward reliability over price more than ever. You have an opportunity to foster the story of how using quality parts is the way to go. It’s something you can talk about each and every time a shop calls or a customer comes into your store. You don’t have a give a big, grandiose speech. But reinforcing the message with every call will surely make an impact. Don’t make the assumption that motorists are still asking for the cheap, cheap, cheap parts.
The good thing about these tough economic times is that they won’t last forever.
And when we all come out of it, motorists are likely to stay latched on to the idea of buying quality.