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When Nothing Is Found

When Nothing Is Found

Postby Tim Martin » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:48 am

We do alot of diagnosis here at our shop. Most times we find a problem but in some cases we do not. A case in point is a 2001 Jeep Wrangler that the customer says the AC shuts off after awhile of operating. I have roughly 2 hours of time into it with pressure gauges and what not trying to locate something to tell the customer but and the AC works just fine in the testing I have done both here in the shop and on the road.. What is a fair way to charge for time but finding nothing and doing nothing? it gets frustrating at times.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby brianp87 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:15 am

I just document what was tested and charge for time involved
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby ricmorin » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:22 am

First of all, realize you didn't 'do nothing'. Your knowledge and equipment have value. You need to charge for this. It's how we eat. :shock:

I ran into similar situations when I first opened my shop. People were reluctant to tell me the whole story. Or at least the parts that were real important. Well, apparently they were important to me, but the customer didn't think so.

So now we question with real vigor. Getting the conditions where a system fails is paramount in recreating it. I ask, 'Can you show me?'. That's a good one. If they say no, ask why. Additionally, we have a policy of no more than .5 for 'no symptom'.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby Tim Martin » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:36 pm

ricmorin wrote:Additionally, we have a policy of no more than .5 for 'no symptom'.

So if I am understanding you correctly, in a situation like I was describing you would charge 1/2 hour of regular shop rate or do you have a special rate for diagnostics?
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby ricmorin » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:33 pm

That's correct. But only because we have that policy and only because that would be my actual time on it. My diag time is pre-determined and authorized by the customer before we open the hood.

We also have a diag rate.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby steven kiser » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:35 am

Just as Ric does i charge for my time. Not a full hit but a acceptable time charge. A tip here on jeeps is the drain plugs for the evap and the core frosts over. A key is the mold or dampness smell from the vents.

I may be fat and jolly but i'm no santa. I will work with the customer if in the future they return with the same issue and we do find the issue. If the customer pulled in during the fail period and i was able to discover the issue within a reasonable amount of time i would wave the diagnostic fee. I want to be fair to myself and mt customer.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby brianp87 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:24 am

I would get a min of an hour no matter what and let the customer knwo this up front then if it takes longer I usually let them knwo with a call with whats going on and the possibities and see where that takes us but I do charge for the time we take to find the issue. If its a sporatic problem then it may take longer but we shouldnt work for free.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby ricmorin » Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:58 am

Another thing I've learned is we charge for testing. Make sure the customer is aware. Results or no results, the fees are for the tests. Intermittent issues *used* to kick our butts financially. Not any more. :mrgreen:

In order to find problems like these, you don't need tools per se, you need information. The more information, the better. Many times I'll get customers in here looking for me to find a problem, only to have me sending them out on a fact gathering mission. They did not yet have the answers needed for me to start. When you do, come and see me, I say. That way, I rarely start something I can't finish.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby liljoe » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:05 am

ricmorin wrote: The more information, the better. Many times I'll get customers in here looking for me to find a problem, only to have me sending them out on a fact gathering mission. They did not yet have the answers needed for me to start. When you do, come and see me.


It amazes me at how little some people know about how there car acts up, and even more amazing to me how some people react when you need this kind of info to correctly and effeciently trace down the problems we deal with on todays cars. They been to trhee other shops and no one can fix it, but I am the dummy cause I ask stupid questions about the problem, it don't matter how long I had been in the car, or if it was rainning or cold or hot or whatever, we are supposed to be magic and just automaticly know the answers. Sometimes we don't even get the luxery of the car being on the lot.......
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby brianp87 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:12 am

Exactly if htey dont knwo the answers then they have to pay more for us find out that it only happens hot etc.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby tadams7445 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:23 pm

I think that generally people don't expect to pay much for diagnostics because they know we have this magical machine that will detail whatever is wrong with their car instantly. That is why it is so important to come to an understanding before starting. I also agree with questions, questions and then more questions. People don't feel they need to answer questions because of that machine again. It's magic.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby steven kiser » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:41 am

This is why a good line of communications is necessary. I question the heck out of customers. One told me it felt like the questionnaire at a doctors office. We've talked many times about finally getting the tip from the customer that leads you in the correct direction.

People may be under the misconception that the scanner is the tell all and when i get someone that tells me to just "hook up that special tool you guys use" to figure it out i tell them "the special tool will only tell me what's going on right now, not what someone did to cause the issue". I had a person come in with their car complaining it was shaking terribly on the highway and the a.b.s. light was on. When we put it on a lift we saw all sorts of dirt and grass in the wheels and suspension. The car went off roading and actually looked like it was tearing up lawns. I told the person what we found and what we thought. She looked at her son and told him she knew we could look into the computer and tell what was going on. I didn't get into it....................................
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby JBUTITTA » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:38 pm

Min half our here. Back to the issue of a/c quiting. Replaced many coils for this exact issue. When cooler outside its a pain to duplicate but can be done. When compressor disengages when hot and wants to re-engage the coil magnetic field is not strong enough to pull shoe, and with a lite tap on shoe it will engage until it cycles the next time. HTH Jerry
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby mulhernsauto » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:10 am

I usually ask the customer to commit to two hours of diagnostic time to research the complaint-even if it's not completely diagnosed. After an explanation of how and why, most will agree and accept that. I also tell them that of two hours are not needed then they will be billed accordingly for the lesser time spent. That helps them to understand my position a bit better I think.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby Rich » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:12 am

mulhernsauto wrote:I usually ask the customer to commit to two hours of diagnostic time to research the complaint-even if it's not completely diagnosed. After an explanation of how and why, most will agree and accept that. I also tell them that of two hours are not needed then they will be billed accordingly for the lesser time spent. That helps them to understand my position a bit better I think.



We do about the same thing. Kinda like broken manifold bolts. I explain it may take 4 hours, but if it goes good and only take 1.5 that is all we will charge for.

But write them a story. If i walk in your shop and got a $70.00 and it says "AC works as normal" i'd flip. But if i see that you checked and tested a bunch of stuff I would understand the charges. I love to document as much as possible.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby mulhernsauto » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:13 am

I agree completely, I try to write my invoices as if the reader has never spoken to me. It has to be clear, concise, and leave little question about what we performed and our resolvement or recommendation for action.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby Tim Martin » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:41 am

mulhernsauto wrote:I agree completely, I try to write my invoices as if the reader has never spoken to me. It has to be clear, concise, and leave little question about what we performed and our resolvement or recommendation for action.

Well, the description on my shop invoices to my customers also leaves no question as to what we did. I want my customers to know what we did and what they are paying for. Also, it serves as a record if we ever need to go back to that job or one similar. Even if nothing is found, I want my customer to know what we did and what we found or, as in some cases, what we didn't find. I also write down what I advised and whether the customer accepted my recommendations or not.
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Re: When Nothing Is Found

Postby steven kiser » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:49 am

I also write a report in great detail, especially since i know i'll probably be looking back to it. On this point about detailing on the order i also do it on jobs out of the ordinary that we repair. I got frustrated remembering an issue mirroring the one i'm banging my head on but not being able to remember what the fix was. Before i started writing everything down to impress the customer i would look back and see "diagnostic time and repair", this did me no good.
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