How To Get Your Mechanic To Like You
Being A Good Customer
It is understood that if a person is walking through the door of a mechanic’s shop, it is because they need something fixed and that they are unable to do so on their own. While an informed customer makes the mechanic’s job easier, one that feels the need to assert their knowledge frequently through argumentative disagreement from diagnosis to completion serves only to make the mechanic’s job more difficult.
An informed customer is a person who understands the basics of how a machine works and may even know how to do the work but is unable to for one reason or another. It could be due to the lack of proper tools, lack of time or ability, or a lack of understanding of the actual repair process. This customer’s general knowledge helps the mechanic by being able to accurately describe the difference between a knocking and a pinging and slippage versus surging. This kind of information saves the mechanic precious time during the diagnosis process.
On the flip side is the customer who has talked to every friend, cousin, neighbor, and weekend backyard mechanic in the county before getting to the certified, qualified mechanic. Along the way he has picked up a wealth of information that likely contradicts itself and may or may not be anywhere close to the actual problem. The danger with this individual is that they are extraordinarily difficult to please. For whatever reason, they have chosen that mechanic over their other contacts yet they will aggressively assert everybody else’s opinions as gold-standard fact.
As a rule of thumb, if you should find yourself in need of mechanical repair, you should do your homework. Listen to what previous customers say about their work, pay attention to the amount of business you see them doing regularly, look at how their shop is maintained, ask around and trust your gut. If, after all of your research, you find a mechanic that you feel you can trust your vehicle with, it is not advisable to question his/her ability. Granted, even experienced mechanics get stumped every once in a while or make an apprentice’s mistake out of haste or weariness, usually because of being rushed. The best mechanics will immediately make amends and seek to ensure you do not leave them without satisfaction.
The exception to this rule is when every decision he/she makes is countered with statements undermining their qualifications. Nobody wants to work for somebody like that and mechanics have the unique ability to turn around and refuse to service you in the future. The question that becomes immediately present to the mechanic is why did you bother to come to him in the first place if you know so many other more capable and knowledgeable people? Word-of-mouth advertising can make or break a business, mechanics especially, and they are always suspicious of the patron who comes in to test them, whether out of genuine interest or to report back to a competitor.
Here are some tips on how to be a good customer:
-Do your homework. That means researching the mechanic as well as knowing the basics about the vehicle you are bringing him/her. For example, you should at least know the vehicle’s year, make, model, and engine size.
-Know what your vehicle is doing. You do not have to know the mechanical lingo, though it would help. Pay attention to how it sounds, what it feels like, and when. Is the noise high pitched or low? Is it constant or sporadic? Does the vehicle shake or jerk? Is the symptom present whenever the vehicle is in gear or only at certain times such as during acceleration, deceleration, or at idle? All of these things are important to the mechanic and go a long ways towards discerning the proper diagnosis the first time around. It is just as frustrating to the mechanic to have to go in to fix one problem then another and all because he/she was not aware of one symptom that would have told him everything he/she needed to know.
-Remember your manners. That old saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar is true. While it is sometimes necessary to be firm with a mechanic you may believe to be shady (in which case you should simply take your vehicle elsewhere if possible), it is more often a sign of disrespect to his/her training to talk down to them. A good mechanic will bend over backwards for a courteous customer but will do only the minimum required to perform the job correctly for an ill-tempered customer.
-Do not stand over their shoulder. First and foremost, this is for your safety. There is a reason that insurance companies state that customers are not allowed in the service area. Respect that. Additionally, it is often perceived as rude and disrespectful to insist on ‘helping’. It is best equated to being a back-seat driver. If you are going to supervise and give direction, do the both of you a favor and do the job yourself at home.
-Follow the mechanic’s recommendations. You brought the vehicle in for one purpose but that may not have been the only problem. The symptom that you came in for may have been caused by something else having been faulty or it may be the cause of something else failing if the job is not allowed to be performed to full completion. Sometimes you can get away with waiting a while before going back for the rest of the proper repairs but be mindful that you heed his/her warning regarding how long you have before incurring more damage. Equally important, do not complain about the vehicle still acting up if you refused to take the recommendations. If you brought your vehicle in for a new battery but the mechanic notices a problem with the charging system, take note. There is little more frustrating to a mechanic then getting word that he is being verbally criticized over work that they suggested but were not permitted to perform.
Follow these tips and you should have a pleasant experience that will hopefully lead to a long, happy professional relationship with a capable mechanic that will appreciate you as much you appreciate them.