Posted to Shop Management Forum on 7/12/2013
I may ruffle a few feathers with this one, but what else is
When reading SMF threads dealing with things like the
challenges of dealing with price shoppers, or those who want
to bring their own parts, or folks who question your
recommendations, or those who come to you for some things,
but not others… There are usually a few responses
along the lines of: 'If you're getting a lot of people
calling/showing up who want to: bring their own parts,
question your methods, talk you down in price, etc…
you need new customers.' Along with that there will
sometimes be comments like: 'Some people aren't worthy of
your services.' Or, 'You deserve better.' Sometimes I'll
read something like: 'You need to raise your rates to weed
out the cheapskates and undesirables.'
Some (for various reasons) may have the luxury of applying
these kinds of selective methodologies, but others simply do
not, and taking such an approach could make things worse.
Markets are not the same everywhere, AND the dynamics of the
market are always changing. Consumer attitudes, needs, and
wants have changed and are continuing to change.
John's post about the challenge of parts pricing as a result
of the Internet is an excellent example. Here's an excerpt
from John's post:
This all has the effect of shrinking the available base
of folks who wish to be our customer… Many will look
at what we have to do to stay alive as price gouging…
There is no more mystery about anything which can be
physically purchased and it's hurting us. Those who think
it's not are kidding themselves.
Johns is exactly right, there is no more mystery, and THAT
is affecting how consumers think and act. (Here's a link to
the entire post: http://members.iatn.net/forums/read/msg.aspx?f=forum15&m=375882&fv=0&ar=0)
The Internet affects more than parts pricing. There are
hundreds (perhaps thousands) of sites with all kinds of
automotive service information. Is all of it correct? Is all
of it good? No, but some of it is. And perhaps worse than
unmistakably wrong information is information that is both a
little right and a little wrong.
Perhaps some shops are blessed with a large and loyal
customer base that doesn't question them or challenge them
in any way, but others are not so blessed. Others have to
work very hard to attract, satisfy, and keep customers.
As a note to those who have it so good now, things may very
well change. Customers move away, pass away, quit driving as
they age, and buy new cars. How will you replace these
customers? Will they just show up and deal with you on your
The Internet is a presence that has and will continue to
influence consumers. Attracting, satisfying, and keeping
customers is a different game today than it once was. An
attitude of: 'This is how it is here, we've always done it
this way, if you don't like it we don't need or want you' is
likely to cause more and more businesses to shrink and fade
The savvy owner today, in my opinion, is one who is not
threatened or even annoyed by the questions and challenges
of consumers. Rather he (or she) sees these questions and
challenges as opportunities, and develops the skills to
communicate and connect with people.
Brian Gordon, in a reply to John's post about parts pricing
that I linked above, wrote this:
We are seeing a convergence of several things: tough
economic times which drive people to save wherever possible;
more wholesalers on the internet with very public prices;
and a poor understanding of the economics of business. Add
to that our industry's perception by the public at large and
we have a mess. Others industries have gone through this.
Some changed -- some disappeared.
(Here's the link to his post: http://members.iatn.net/forums/read/msg.aspx?f=forum15&m=375885&fv=0&ar=0)
I wonder, who will change and who will disappear?
MDH Automotive Services
Richville, Michigan, USA
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