Not My Monkey, Not My Circus

Almost every day I hear a story of a real world event called taking ownership.  Now although there are many different things spoken about when this is the subject line, they all center around one basic concept, that we somehow are or are not responsible for other people’s issues.  For the purposes of this article we are only going to cover why we (shop Owners/Managers) take responsibility or ownership for our customer’s vehicles issue.

Where is this coming from you ask?  How many of you have lost sleep and eventually money for sympathizing with your customer instead of empathizing with them?  What’s the difference you ask?  The Free Dictionary by Farlex states: sympathize with - share the suffering of, or feel sorry for someone. To feel sympathy for someone because they are in a difficult or unpleasant situation.  Whereas, empathize with - to have an understanding about the way someone feels; to feel emotional pain with someone elicits very different thoughts and results.  Starting to see the difference?  Broken down to its simplest form, Sympathize—share the suffering, Empathize- to have an understanding about the way someone feels; to feel emotional pain with someone.  So without seeming cold, hardened or cruel, do we want to share the pain of their vehicles issue, costing us money in most cases or be understanding about their vehicles issue and try to help them resolve their concern(s) as quickly as possible while still making the money you need to make??  Giving discounts, in what-ever form because we somehow feel responsible for the issue is only going to put you out of business eventually OR force you to charge others more to cover the discounts you gave others!

If you are charging a labor rate based on the “cost of doing business” (we should be but, that’s another article all together) discounts force us to make up that money elsewhere, or maybe the Owner simply “shouldn’t take a check” for the next payroll.  Everyone works hard for their money or they should be and in most cases not taking a check or not cashing a check is not an option for most people, owners included!  Maybe everyone employed by that facility should give a little of their check to make up for the discount?  Starting to sound a little unreasonable isn’t it?  It is!  And this is why we MUST charge what we do (again as long as the labor rate is based on the costs of doing business) and discounts shouldn’t enter into any transaction at a business level.  Now, if we are talking about family or best friends for life, there may be exceptions, but if there are those exceptions and they amount to any substantial amount of money, they should be figured into the cost of doing business and ultimately the labor rate so that the business survives.  And for those thinking, “well the other discounts (sympathy discounts) I give out of sympathy can be figured into the labor rate as well, remember this will always increase your labor rate, so others are paying more for those discounts than they should be.  This will eventually also put you out of business!

To sum this up a little, this is NOT being cruel or callous, this is business and unless your shop was started and set up to be a hobby, sympathy has no place in business.  Every time that we take responsibility for our customer’s vehicles issue through sympathy, we will lose money!  However if we stay on the side of empathy and do everything in our power to get the customers vehicle back to them as quickly and efficiently as possible at a fair price, everyone wins.  Is it still money that the customer wouldn’t want to pay?  Absolutely, approximately 90% of all people who own cars don’t budget for car repair and maintenance, so regardless of what we charged, they would, in most cases want it to be less!  Instead, give them the best service possible, charge a fair price for that service, and stand behind your work with the longest warranty you are comfortable with, but no less than 12 months / 12,000 miles!  As a matter of fact, most of our clients are now giving 36 month / 36,000 miles (long warranties are another article as well) to help put them ahead of their competition and make them better than any one else!

There is an old adage in our industry that goes something like this; “I/we didn’t build it, buy it or break it” and if we truly believe that, BUT are empathetic to our customers concerns, everyone wins, every time!

If you need help with your business and want to see and feel the successes you expected when you opened your doors, give us a call at: The ACT Group, 805-444-2598 or visit our website for more information