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Automotive code readers cause problems in the wrong hands

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 07:00
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Being an automotive jobber store has sure changed throughout the years. Those jobbers that did not adapt with the changing times are gone. That’s not unique to our business. Independent jobbers today are faced with a very complex set of circumstances to deal with, and most of us are coping, adapting and changing.

Independent service and repair facilities also are faced with complexity that surpasses even the jobber stores’ tribulations, but for whatever reason, an alarming percentage of the independent service centers refuse to adopt new technology or take advantage of training. More importantly, they do not readily grasp the importance of informing themselves or their employees how the vast library of knowledge available via various forms, will impact their bottom line.

The rest of the automotive aftermarket is motor-boating along, only to be slowed by the anchor of seeming indifference exemplified by a large number of independent repair shops. Copy this article, and hand it out to your independent repair shops and service centers, because the stories and points I’m about to share might just shame them into getting some new technology or going to a few classes.

A simple query is in order: Why are many independent shops and their technicians not attending classes and training seminars? For my technicians and countermen it’s mandatory. Period, end of discussion. Federal-Mogul just held a regional seminar that we traveled 75 miles to attend. A recent Snap-On Tools Diagnostic seminar required travel of more than 100 miles, and guess how many of my customers that are dealers, repair centers, and garages attended? One. Us. I was not surprised, after all, they are my customers.

I asked one of my larger customers why they didn’t send one tech, just one? The answer was even more astounding, “We’ve got a hand held code reader and the Internet, so all the information we need is available to us for free. We didn’t feel like it would be worth our time, plus if we have a problem we can’t solve, we just ask you.”  

I almost snort-laughed, then I asked, “How much time do you spend or your techs waste before you get to the point of calling us? Do you get to bill for all of that time scratching your head? What if I’m too busy to help your techs diagnose the problem?” His retort, “Well we just send them to you or a dealership because you usually can’t make much money on goofy stuff anyhow.” I was speechless, and it takes a very dumbfounding experience for me to be left with nothing to say.

Oil and water don’t mix. Retail parts stores and code readers don’t mix well either. Even worse, the fact that they use code readers openly and freely for many customers furthers the public perception that code readers are magical tools. In fact, the only thing that’s astounding is because retail “code reading” is free, the average Joe will buy copious amounts of things to fix their vehicle that tend to fix nothing. Yet since the scan was free, and the reader said those parts could be the problem, the customer has no problem that the parts cannot be returned.

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