Friday, June 27, 2014

I'll take it as a compliment!

I've always known that I'm a nice guy. I just never knew what a nice guy I was until a phone call came in today.
I know I take in a lot of diagnostic work from other shops that, when they haven't succeeded, they farm out to me in hope I can take care of it while they do something that is profitable.
It's Friday and I'm here at my shop taking care of all the things that need to get done and go before the weekend. The call is from another shop owner.  He let's me know his service advisor is out for a two week vacation. And he just took a phone call about his father having fallen sick, possibly with grave consequences.
He asked me if I would take care of his business in the event that he needs to fly to his fathers location to help and support him.
For me the answer was fairly simple, there was only one answer, help your peer. His shop is in another city 10 miles away and I felt there wouldn't be any awkward situations where a client could make a mistake of one shop for another.
I don't know if the shop owner will have to go, but if he does, I'll be there to help.
Then it dawned on me. How many of us would open up our financial and business life like an open book for another person, let alone a competitor to see?
I think it took a lot of guts for my peer to make the call. Simply put, this underscores how much of a burden and stress a self employed person has on a day to day basis.
An employee can ask for time off and a spur of the moment, leaving the business owner to deal with the consequences. A business owner on the other hand... not as easy.
I can't recall how many times I've been told that as the business owner, I can take off anytime I want. It couldn't be farther from the truth!
I'll leave this one open, will come back to it once I do my duty or, once I'm not needed. It should be an interesting experience.  After all, how many of us get to be in someone's shoes even if it's only in their business life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May god yelp us all!

I often question my sanity. I don't know what I was thinking.
I've had a business account with Yelp for sometime now. But I often heard this rumor that if you closed your account, Yelp would retaliate.
And I didn't want to believe it!
Not until it happens to you, you realized how contentious a company can be, and how much strife they can cause in your life.
After measuring results from the Yelp campaign, I decided that I wasn't getting what I wanted from the exchange. When the contract was up, I called them and email them with termination notices.
A funny thing happened,,,,,
Every possible unflattering review I had, dating back to 2011 was now on position one page one. It didn't matter I had many other great reviews recently. The only ones Yelp wanted to show were those that didn't help my cause. Now! Yelp could fix that right away. All I had to do was pay them a monthly fee with a yearly contract and then, they could certainly make sure those pesky poor reviews never saw the light of page one. They would be relegated to a page so deep and profound  that no human being could ever find.

So here is where the business and moral dilemmas clash for me.
One one hand, paying them $75.00 or so per month it's not going to make a dent in my life.
One the other hand, paying them that fee is tantamount to protection money. it's a racket! It's wrong!
I know that in paying the monthly, poor reviews would be buried and thus I would be able to get more clients to come to our business. It does however feel dirty, tainted, bought. But hey!, all is fair in business right?
Truth is, I know I can pay Yelp for a near perfect rating that would allow my business to grow. But I would feel empty, I would feel sold for a few dollars.
I know the right thing to do is to stand firm against the tyranny of the Yelp oppression. It's just that I wonder how alone I'm going to be standing against them.
Make no mistake!  Yelp is not our friend. They ask for what amounts to protection money from business's while allowing postings that they shouldn't.
They claim to filter thru all the postings to catch the fake ones. But they only delete good reviews if they feel they are insincere. They do nothing about poor or bad reviews even if they think are bogus.
Ill post an epilog to this column, hopefully in about a month after I go through all the data from analytics.
I'll know by then the effect of the decision taken today and report it.

May god Yelp me!


Everybody wants to fix their car right. Right?
Well, not quite!
It all started with our client letting us know, in a somewhat loud voice, that he was tired of bringing the car once or twice a year to fix the same problem. The air condition system was acting up again!
He wanted it fixed right this time.
After looking at our records, we noticed we last looked at the air condition system slightly over three years ago. And prior to that repair, it had been six years since we last worked on the troubled system.
It was low on freon, a fairly common occurrence. We traced the leak to compressor body o rings and proceeded to put a quote together for the necessary repairs.
I'm sure you guessed by now, the ensuing repairs were all declined. "How come you didn't noticed the leak the last time I paid you to look at it?"
It takes a lot of courage and strenght to keep your mouth shut and not yell back at the perceived insult. It seems once I got over 50, I have less and less of that courage and strenght (and patience)
I wanted so much to say " But you said you wanted it fixed right, What has changed?"
I suppose we all set out to get something done right. But then, compromise on what we wanted and trade it for something we didn't want, but cheaper. But this is not about our client, it is about me!
Not long ago, I wanted to get a vest I've seen from Patagonia outfitters, I loved everything about it but the price. You see, Patagonia is a high end outfitter and as such, get a price that is higher than most.
When I balked at the price, I started looking for a more reasonably priced alternative. I found one from a reputable nationwide outfitter (they have a large website on the net)  I bought it and received it from Fedex.
Having compromised because of price, the first thing I noticed was that it really wasn't what I wanted. It was the price I wanted to pay but not the product I wanted.
I never send  the piece back since it wasn't their fault They had sent me what I had requested. By the way! I did get the vest I wanted. I paid the asking price and decided not to whine about it.
Lessons learned!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


A day after we worked on a vehicle, we got a phone call from the owner, and it went like this:

 Car owner (CO):       Why did you do that to my car?
Shop (S):                 I'm sorry! and what would that be?
CO                          Why did you put that message on my rear view mirror without my approval?
S                              And what message is that?
CO                           Someone in your shop put the message "objects in the mirror are closer than
                                 they appear" on my rear view mirror.  I did not asked for it!
What would make this funny, is the fact that she prefaced the conversation by saying that she was very aware of everything about her vehicle. That she had owned it for 13 years now and she washed it every Sunday, and waxed it frequently as well. She stated that the message was not there the last time she had washed it. (That message has been a federal mandate for over a decade now)
Move forward to the next car.
It's late in the day, 9:30 P.M. to be precise. I get a phone call on my cell phone from one of our clients.
The battery would go dead if she couldn't turn off the headlamps. "We'll?" Was my answer, " turn the headlight off!"
Unfortunately, she didn't know how.  She had owned the car for 22 years and never had to turn the lights on or off. You see!, they had always been set to come on automatically when dark.
Someone had somehow managed to turn the feature off and suddenly, she had been left to her own devices.
What's perplexing to me, is the fact so many people don't pay any attention to their vehicles. And that it only becomes evident when there is some kind of failure.
Okay,  have you guessed by now where I'm going with this?
If you said " I bet you got blamed for the headlight switch fiasco as we'll". Pat yourself in the back!
You are one for one!