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The Customer Who Wants to Supply Their Own Parts

Shop Management

Bob Cooper

by Bob Cooper , President

By Bob Cooper

You don’t have to be in the auto repair business long before a customer asks you if they can supply their own parts. Although there is no one technique that will work in every case, here’s one approach you may want to consider.

First of all, you’ll need to bear in mind that a customer is making this request because they feel it’s a legitimate one. They are simply trying to save as much money as they can, which is perfectly normal. With rare exception, these customers are unaware that you need to make a profit on your parts to stay in business.

The reasoning for not installing a customer-supplied part is really pretty simple: It’s not in their best interest, because if that part fails, the responsibility will be on them. They’ll not only be responsible for the part that failed, but for all the ensuing labor costs, their loss of time when their vehicle is down for the second repair, etc. So rather than telling them something that makes them feel cheap or uncomfortable, the next time a customer asks if they can supply their own parts, you may want to say something like this…

“Well, Mr. Kost, I appreciate your interest in helping, because it’s very kind of you to offer. Unfortunately, here at Elite Auto we’re unable to install customer-supplied parts, and here’s why: The very moment we install any part on your vehicle we become responsible, not just for that part, but for a lot more. If that part were to fail while it’s under warranty, we’re responsible for removing it, paying a tech to determine why it failed so it doesn’t happen again, buying a replacement part and having it delivered to us, and then installing it. We’re also responsible for any towing that may be required, and for any other parts that would be damaged due to its failure. And when you think about it, Mr. Kost, this is the way it should be, and it’s why we have so many loyal customers that send their friends to us. It’s our job to solve problems, and then stand behind our solutions. On the other hand, if we were to install a part that wasn’t one of ours, then we wouldn’t be responsible for it, or anything that may occur if it were to fail. I have to tell you, I’d much rather tell a customer that we’re unable to install a part they’d like to provide, than tell them we just installed their part, it failed, and now it’s their problem, not ours.”

“Now here’s the good news for you: If we do the repair, I can have you back on the road by ___o’clock, and you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that you have safe, dependable transportation, and the entire repair, including all the parts and labor, will be backed up with our full ____ year _____mile written warranty. All that I need is your go ahead, and I can get Mike started on it right away.”

This technique won’t work with every customer, because there is no one technique that will. The good news is, it will work with the kind of people that you would like to have as your customers.

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