Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.Mark, who has been with the business for over 20 years, is an ASE Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).
(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP)
Yesterday, I spoke to a friend I see from time to time. He's the local sales rep. for a major automotive equipment manufacturer. (p.s. he earns 125k per year) He's sold us tire balancers, computerized 4-wheel alignment machines, alignment racks, ect. I mentioned how service work had slowed down last month. It was at that point we began an interesting conversation. A conservation about how I market our service business. I spoke of cars that were in our shop today for oil changes and tire rotations and how I told a customer that while we had the wheels off for rotation we inspected the brakes and found them to be 60% worn yet acceptable at this time. I spoke of tires that were half worn yet half good and did not require replacement yet. That stumped my friend. He said that we were letting sales, "walk out the door" and that we should have told those customers that the brakes and tires should be replaced now before they go to far to cause a "safety problem". He went on and on to explain how many other shops he had been to last month and were real busy and would not have let that service work slip away. What service work? Work that wasn't really necessary? Work that is sold by scare tactics? Work that constitutes fraud?
I'll admit, the automotive service industry can be a roller-coaster ride of busy to boring at times, but under no circumstances will I try to coax a customer into repair work that is unfounded. There is enough maintenance work and just plain neglect out their on cars today to worry about than having to swindle customers into fraudulent repairs. My rule of thumb is this: "Every part on a vehicle is innocent until proven guilty" Let me repeat that. Every part on a vehicle is innocent until proven guilty. Another words, if the tires are half worn and may provide another 20,000 miles of happy motoring then so be it. If the brakes still measure good, let the customer know and check them at their next tire rotation. Does my sales strategy need to change? Absolutely not! Sure I need service work, but I need my customers to come back too. The trust between the customer and a service facility is extremely important and must not be violated in any way.
Well, maybe I wasn't as busy as some shops last month but I'll bet I slept a lot sounder than they did at night. In a sense I feel like a hero. Well, an unsung hero.