Qualifying isn't everything, but it's critical

Service Engine Soon, Community Automotive Repair

In a continuation of our “Choosing the right professional” series, we’d like to discuss the importance of not only asking the right questions but being asked them as well.  For instance, when’s the last time you visited the dentist with a toothache and they didn’t ask additional questions, to better understand the exact nature of your pain?  Has this ever happened?  Chances are if it has you may not have received the best possible service, and ultimately you invested too much for too little a return.  Isn’t the point generally to receive quality service(s) at a complete value?  Now, we realize “value” is a term that some will choose to take liberties with but we’re not doing any such thing here.  To eliminate any confusion, value is being defined in this case as the proper level of service, time to completion, and cost.  While it’s not entirely impossible to achieve great (not good, but exceptional) results with all 3 components of value, usually you’re best to decide which is most important to you and understand that could mean less priority to one or both of those remaining.

OK, so now we’ve learned that it’s not exactly a good idea to entrust anything of value (term used generically here) to another without first knowing that they have a clear understanding of your expectations.  Furthermore, we visited a very concrete model of value.  Now, we have the pleasure of marrying these two concepts.

(actual scenario) – notated in theatrical form for entertainment purposes


*customer enters shop*

Service Advisor: Good morning, welcome to ________ (name omitted to protect the innocent), how may I help you?

Customer: I’m here to get my car tuned-up so it will run better.

Service Advisor: Well, no problem at all.  That service will cost _____ (insert “engine tune-up” cost here).

Customer: OK, that seems a little high but you were referred by a good friend I trust.  So… when will it be ready?

Service Advisor: We’ll have it all wrapped up for you by 2:00pm.

Customer: OK, I guess that’s fair.  Thank you, and I’ll see you later today.

*customer signs the necessary authorization and exits the shop*


How would you grade this experience, both from the perspective of the Customer and the Service Advisor?  Feel free to comment on this thread if you have any helpful suggestions.


Regardless of the score you might give this, we’re likely to agree at least on this much – it could have been a lot better, right?  Yes, in fact it in most cases can be used (and is here) as “what not to do” more than anything else.  For the record, a “tune-up” is quite commonly misunderstood since it can mean very different things depending to whom you might be speaking.  A traditional tune-up (AKA Engine Tune-Up) includes but may not be limited to replacing spark plugs, spark plug wires, and fuel filter on a vehicle.  Depending on what the customer is truly seeking, this may or may not be the answer for them.  Even though cost is left to the reader’s imagination above, there was enough information provided to suggest that the customer was initially taken back by it.  This was to call attention to how the Service Advisor rushed to judgment instead of asking additional questions.  In this specific example the Service Advisor did in fact assume the customer was asking for an engine tune-up, but if you had been around to witness the actual incident you’d have picked up quickly on their mistake.  The customer in this case actually wanted a Fuel Injection Cleaning Service, which is quite different than how their request was interpreted.  The service the customer legitimately wanted was precisely in the cost range they anticipated, and not at all relative to what one would spend on an Engine Tune-Up.

Now, to better illustrate this point we of course are asking you to accept that this customer chose what the Service Advisor recommended and walked out of the shop.  In reality, prior to this happening, a manager, who just happened to overhear the conversation, rose to the occasion and prevented this from becoming a major disaster.

This happened in real life.  This wasn’t our shop but it could very well have been if we either made a careless mistake or chose against what’s best for the customer in place of what’s most profitable for us.  Well, suffice it to say we’re not interested in either of those, as we’d rather take a loss in favor of the customer if we are legitimately found in error.  We’re not perfect but we’ve learned that taking our time and focusing on the questions behind the question is (as mentioned above) very critical.  Whether you know the right questions to ask, or not, we hope your experience is one that you not only find fair but also educational and professional.

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Written by cargrandrapids