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Shopping for auto parts, service using the crazy vs. experience matrix

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 07:00
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As consumers, we make choices based on few facts and even less data. The truth is largely ignored, and our expectations of quality outweigh the logic of the whole process.

Due to this revelation that hyperbole seems to trump common sense, here is a simple chart to help you determine where you should buy your parts and get your service. I call this guide the crazy vs. experience matrix.

Basically it consists of a horizontal X axis called Crazy, and a vertical Y axis labeled Experience. The Crazy axis begins with a measurement of 4 and tops out at a 10 crazy, because let’s face it, to work in this industry you have to be at least a “4” crazy.

The Experience axis runs from 0 to 25 years. It stops at 25 years, because selecting anyone with over 25 years’ experience to handle your parts and service needs will result in you dealing with such a jaded old-timer you’d never distinguish them from a 10 crazy even if they were a 4 or below. However, this is not a static representation. It’s quite fluid.

So, for starters anyone who falls within less than 5 years of experience and between a 4-10 crazy we will call the “no go zone.” Unless you are not afraid of disappointment, return trips, long waits, or you thrive on misery, stay away from this zone. Life is just better that way.

Next, we have persons that rank between a 4-7 crazy and with 5-8 years of experience. This zone is the “reasonably accurate zone,” and they are not crazy, most of the time. You can call these guys and gals your friends. They are OK to hang out with, but don’t possess the “Bullwinkle” gene commonly needed for the “Mr. know it all” savant ability. One should strive to leave the “reasonably accurate zone” to find a more permanent location for parts and service. 

Above 5 years, yet under 8 years of experience, and above an 8 crazy, we call the “danger zone.”  These are people who tend to be gypsies, with too many tattoos to count, and really odd piercings. They possibly are ex-convicts, degenerates and unseemly sorts. The only reason they are still working in a parts store or a service center is because everyone is scared of them, or they are related to the owner. Taking advice from these folks could result in jail time or engine failure. Or both. Do not confuse crazy for “cool” regardless of how long this freak has been around.

Above 8 years’ experience and above a 6 crazy, yet below an 8 crazy is the “price matching zone.” They will make a sale regardless of the cost to the company. They are reasonably intelligent and can be referred to your friends and family. Just remember, they tend to be at least crazy 60 percent of the time or more, so caution should be exercised, especially if the deal sounds too good to be true, or they’d like to have your home phone number and want you to friend them on Facebook.

The next zone is the “loyalty zone.” Above 8 years of experience, between a 4.5-6.5 crazy are the folks you should consider establishing a long-term parts and service relationship with. Pretty smart, very reliable, consistently accurate, reasonably priced, and typically good looking with a reasonable amount of body art. Art that is not visible makes them even more intriguing, yet I’m sure it’s tasteful. Opening a credit account and signing a personal guarantee typically results in a bond of mutual commitment. Plus, their crazy fluctuation will only be viewed as a mood swing or just having a bad day. Most of the time, they will never hit “full-on-crazy,” unless they are going through a divorce or rehab, but it’s possible for them to show up anywhere within the matrix with little predictability.

Next, between a 4 to a 4.5 crazy, with 20 years’ experience or more is the “extinct zone.” These people are myths. I don’t believe they exist. However, if you find one of these ghosts, call in a psychic, capture it and keep it alive, as we’d like to look for ways to replicate it.

I was explaining this to a friend of mine, and he said, “My guy has 15 years of experience, and is like only a 2-3 crazy and he knows everything. No matter what I ask, he always has the solution. I like this guy a lot. He’s awesome.” I said, “Hey man, you need to be careful. That’s an ex-male exotic dancer blogging and trolling around the internet while sitting in his underwear eating Moon-Pies. The screen name “Magic Mike” on a blog site is not the answer you are looking for. Ever.

To be sure, you need to gather data, plot your findings on this chart to figure out information that could be considered reliable. It’s not a pie-chart, nor should be thought of as being representative of the number of these types out there. It’s just a suggestion. This is my 30th year working in this industry, my opinion is certainly jaded, yet accurate and true. And yes, I’m infinitely crazy. 10 by 10.

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