Does your auto repair shop charge for automotive inspections? If not, why not? Whether a customer needs a pre-trip check, a brake inspection, or a full vehicle inspection, your technician’s time and your service advisor’s time are worth charging for. Some shop owners have experienced customers taking advantage of them by getting a free inspection from your shop and getting the repair done at a rival shop! Others do not feel it is fair to charge for inspections. Still, others offer tiers of inspections, ranging from free to charging different amounts. This is a great discussion about the philosophy behind whether or not we should charge customers for inspections.
Automotive Inspections – Time Is Money
Jerry outlined the model featuring three levels of inspection: A basic inspection, which is free; a more thorough mid-level inspection for a nominal fee; and a thorough, complete inspection, costing more. His experience? Most people are willing to pay for the mid level vehicle inspection, rather than going for the free basic package. Bottom line: it is not fair to ask your technician to work for free, or for you to pay him or her when you are not being paid by the customer.
Pam joined the discussion, pointing this out from a Service Writer’s perspective. Customers understand there is value in our work. They come expecting to pay for it, or at least they should. If your Service Advisor explains the value of the inspection, customers will be happy to pay for it. If they are not receptive, the chances are that your front counter employee is not asking enough questions.
For example, if a customer says their Check Engine Light is on, your Service Writer should be asking if they have noticed any issues with the vehicle’s performance. If you don’t ask, there is a good chance your technicians may not know where to look for the problem. Then, when you fail to fix the issue, the customer will rightfully hold you accountable.
Scott makes the point that many of his older clients do not drive much, but will take a long trip once or twice a year to see family. They enter the shop, asking for a pre-trip inspection, and are happy to pay for it. That peace of mind is so valuable. Opening the hood for the inspection also creates opportunities to sell more work if necessary.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
Fred added that his Service Writer recently called around to other shops, asking how much they charged for automotive inspections. He was surprised to know how high their fees were to inspect customers’ vehicles. Since the market is bearing it, he found it necessary to raise his own inspection fees.
Jerry gave an example of the basic inspection in action. His shop offers a free 15-minute visual “no wrench” inspection. From just a few minutes of eyeballing the engine and wheels, his technicians can recommend premium services such as a full brake inspection. Again, customers who come in and let us inspect their vehicles should expect to pay for our services ultimately. Obviously, if a more thorough brake inspection is in order, Jerry’s shop rolls the cost of the inspection into the repair charge.
Bottom line? Don’t give away free full vehicle automotive inspections. Many times, customers will take advantage of your generosity and get the work done elsewhere.
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Your auto repair shop lacks direction. Maybe your business plan has stalled out, and you aren’t meeting your goals. You need an experienced automotive industry coach to help you. Then why not schedule a FREE business strategy session with You Net Results guide Brian Gillis? You’ve got nothing to lose, so sign up today!