I definitely understand that calling your mechanic can be a stressful thing. It shouldn’t be…but it is. I have been in this awesome auto repair industry for 26 years now. I have taken countless phone calls and met a lot of great new people throughout the years. You can often hear the tension in someone’s voice when it is their first time calling your shop. People are afraid of the unknown. They don’t know if you are going to be friendly. They don’t know if you are going to talk down to them with technical words. They don’t know if you are going to trick them into something they don’t need. They don’t know if they can even afford to come in. I strongly believe that everyone just wants to know that everything is going to be ok. I am going to give you some advice and things you should look for when choosing your family mechanic that will hopefully make the process far less stressful. Follow this advice and everything is going to be ok!
- Research…. research…research. Check out their Google listing, read their good and bad reviews, read their responses to the reviews, check out their website and check out their social media. This should give you a good idea of the culture of the business and its team matches up with you. If it doesn’t…keep searching.
- Call the business to make sure their attitude, helpfulness, and friendliness matches up with what was portrayed online during your research. If it doesn’t…please proceed with caution.
- Ask the questions you are really wanting to know. Don’t beat around the bush. Ask, ask, ask! A lifetime customer is highly valued to me and most in our auto repair industry. Don’t be afraid to take up too much of our time. You are worth the time!
Here are some quick examples of questions that may give you great clues to the culture and knowledge of the staff:
- Talk specifically about the type of vehicle you have and what your current concerns are.
“The check engine light just came on in my Honda. My husband had someone quickly retrieve the trouble code as a PO303 and mentioned a misfire. Do you do this kind of work? What is the process for figuring out what is wrong? Do you have a specific charge for diagnosing this type of problem?”
What you are listening for is someone to speak with confidence about your specific vehicle, your specific problem and give you a great explanation of the process they will follow to properly diagnose your concern. You should always understand exactly what will be done to your car and the fair charges for what is done.
- Ask questions about availability and the scheduling process. Are they a couple of days out on the schedule? Are they a couple of weeks out on the schedule? I am not here to say one or the other is good or bad, you just need to know. The main things that you want to know are: Is there an obvious scheduling process they follow so that I get the attention I deserve? Is my car likely to be done in a timely manner?
- Ask about the parts used and the warranty on repairs.
If you are looking for a quality shop, they should explain how they decide what parts to source for your repair. Every part’s supplier has quality parts lines and substandard parts lines. With years of experience comes the knowledge of the best parts to use in different situations. Believe it or not, some product lines work great on different vehicle types. It takes a good mechanic to request the correct part to be used during the repair process.
- Ask how long the service adviser you are talking to has been at the current shop you are calling. Quality service advisers are extremely hard to find. I spent over 10 years to assemble the office team that I have. I have to treat them so well that they never leave me! This does not mean that if someone is new to the current shop that they are not good…but if someone has been at the current shop for several years…that should make you feel good.
- Ask how long the mechanic that knows your vehicle make has been at the shop. Great mechanics are almost impossible to find these days. Most good mechanics stay put once they find a manager that treats them with the respect they deserve. Once again.. just because a mechanic is new to the shop doesn’t mean they are bad. If a mechanic that specializes in your type of vehicle has been at a shop for several years though…that is a really good sign that they are a great mechanic and they have a shop owner and manager that treats people with respect.
I hope this insight helps you with your quest to find your next family mechanic. I love the people in this industry and I love the people on my team. There are great people and shops out there. Ask the right questions and find the ones that line up with what is most important to you.
Tom Lambert- Shadetree Automotive