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What I (WE) Wish Every Mechanic Shop Owner and Manager Understood

by

My motivation is first and foremost from my many personal experiences.  Paint is scratch sensitive and most people do not know and or do not care.  When I have a bad experience with someone my second thought is what could I have done to prevent or better discourage this from happening (even taking extreme measures).  Then my therapy is to teach others the same, which has led to my other motivation for writing this article.  Over the years as I searched for ways to vet auto repair and maintenance businesses, I have been hit with a depressing apathy from other enthusiasts, who are resigned to their belief that no matter what we do seldom will a shop NOT let us down.  That is I why I am reaching out to you.

Oil Change

I sincerely hope this information is shared.  I want those that get what I am trying to communicate take this message seriously.  I wish those that express antagonism towards my own and many other’s fear of others caring for our cars serve as a warning and reminder of how important it is to be proactive and selective.

If I am not being clear enough, a business lost a 5 Star Google and Facebook review from me.  I remember this being the second place I trusted with my cover after doing some research with a quality recommendation.  I had been so happy with my recent experiences, I spent 2 hours writing a thorough review of endorsement.  To be clear, this auto repair and maintenance shop is not a bad business, just not good for me an enthusiast who cares about his paint anymore.

“We didn’t do that, that was you driving hitting a curve”, I was told.  This is what was said to me, which two weeks prior I inspected the area of my car revealing no damage.  I would have nodded with naive approval if it was only a curb rash, that could have been my doing.  Only the picture below is one of several areas on my bumper with new scratches.

“I can barely see it!”  “He was leaning over here though”, she said.  This was one of the areas I noticed I watched an employee place wires resting on my bumper.  I walked over looking directly at this possibly newer employee while he was working, which encouraged him to TEMPORARILY take it off.

“I can’t think of anything that would have caused that.”

scratches

This sounds dismissive (or painful lack of knowledge) doesn’t it?  Which is how I interpreted this dialogue.   I always thoroughly clean my car (including engine bay) to help catch certain problems that arise.

“We don’t wear buttons.”

Not wearing buttons does not compensate for leaning over paint with jeans and wires.  it does not make putting tools and other objects over your car for storage.  What does lead to scratches; leaning over a car with any kind of cloth pants, rubbing wires on paint, placing objects on paint, and wiping oil off paint with cotton towels.

I am not a demonstrative or belligerent person who likes to tell employees how to do their job in the moment.  And for the record I was shockingly calm.  I even apologized for seeming difficult raising my concerns.  But you often will never get the same chance to make the same errors on my car, especially if you dismiss my concerns before, during, and after the fact.  Not speaking for all enthusiasts, but the service manager knows my car is cleaned right before arrival (including engine bay).  This person communicates that I take very good care of my car.  You lose a customer a loyal customer, who might have let the situation go, by being dismissive.

I want to share a conversation I had with a lady friend at a time which I was still openly venting about my experience.  I originally asked her to imagine getting her dream purse.  She does not like purses.  She loves books.  I asked her what it would feel like to own a rare copy of one of her favorite books.  If you could imagine someone lighting up with joy, this happened in that moment.  I asked her how she would feel if someone stepped on or damaged your book and responded with the words ‘it’s just a book’.  Her passionate words, “I would (figuratively) kill them!”  This is how we feel.

We know a lot of you probably privately say these words to yourself,  “It’s not a hundred thousand dollar car.  If you care that much about swirls and scratches, you shouldn’t have taken your car here.”  But it is our car!  And it is important to us.  Consumers have to do better staying on business owners about our needs.  But considering finding those willing and ensuring businesses have employees do the right things is not easy nor an exact science.  Enthusiasts NEVER ask for people to scratch up our cars.  It is nauseating exhausting ourselves hoping others show a percentage of the same care we do with our cars to still be disappointed.  This can be an opportunity to separate yourself from other auto repair shops whose ownership and staff do not care.

We often spend our time trying to avoid situations that could lead to our car being damaged, knowing the frustrating lack of empathy so many have.  We know they don’t care because to them, “it’s just a car.”  Then we run into a situation where we have limited choice.  We begrudgingly trust the cosmetic care of our cars to you.  I hope this article can be an opportunity for businesses to separate themselves by building trust or being transparent that your employees are not capable of being safe around our cars.

Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
MirrorReflectionsAutoSpa.com
YouTube | Facebook

4 comments on What I (WE) Wish Every Mechanic Shop Owner and Manager Understood

  1. John C Curtis says:

    Hat’s off to Rodney, a very well written article about a subject that is very real. I myself have created issues on my own cars. Just a couple of weeks ago I spent some time getting scratches off my door sill. I didn’t realize that I was dragging my foot over the sill on exit or the fine scratches behind the door handle, I don’t have long nails and I always thought I was careful. I treat my cars like they are wired to 440 volts and give them a wide berth, I’m maybe a bit too obsessive, but I guess in my mind it just pays to keep a distance when doing other things around the vehicle. Things like in a store parking lot, a person has a child in a basket, when their finishing up, where’s the priority, the child or the basket. So things happen. That’s it, I could go on for much longer. Good article.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      Thank you! Seeing avoidable/intentional ignorance that creates issues with my car, definitely elicits a kind of frustration that I imagine is relatable but can be difficult to describe.

  2. Sticky says:

    I’m in total agreement with the premise of this article on my vehicles as well as how I should treat customers vehicles. I don’t so much care or have such attachment to vehicles in general. I say keep jacking them up! Drop those gummy bears under your seat, keep using the new fangled “waterless wash”, keep going to the gas station car wash and letting those crusty high speed brushes beat the crap out of your ride for a fee. At the end of the day those poor souls are the detailers customers. Of course it’s different if your an enthusiast and it’s your ride, but most folks aren’t enthusiasts and would gladly shell out some coin to not have to be. That’s where we come in!

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      I admit I was concerned about how I would articulate my points in this article due to my motivation (venting) being so personal. It ofcourse has been something I have dealt with but my clients as well have had really bad experiences with businesses who claim to cater to people like us.

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