Thursday, April 12, 2007

Walking in someone elses shoes

Having been a mechanic and owning my own auto repair facilities for so many years I have never had the worries that many have with respect to worrying about the what-if's of a car. I have never had to worry about a car breaking down or who will repair it or will it be done on time. That's not to say I don't have my customer's best interest at heart because I always have. On the other hand until something happens to make me walk in someone elses shoes it can be hard to fully appreciate those concerns. Well, I have finally walked in those shoes and I didn't enjoy it one damn bit!

Back in October I sat down with pen and paper and drew up a time-line for the build of this car. Every single item of the build was listed exactly as to when it needed to be done by including ordering parts, etc. Even before I picked up my car I had a meeting to discuss arrangements with a body shop owner and his manager. During that meeting I told them exactly what I needed and expected regarding payment, schedule, quality, etc. As soon as I picked up my car they both came to look it over and discuss exactly what was to be done and gave me an estimate and payment arrangements. During this entire discussion one of my main concerns discussed was that the car needed to be completed preferably within two months and no longer than four months.

But then I began to get excuses as to why the job was moving slowly and they seemed to be too busy to get my job done on time. I never once complained but instead took the high road and simply asked them to at least try harder. It has now been 7 months and the car is way behind schedule. In the mean time IMPACT ENGINEERING went ahead of schedule and not only completed their portion of the build ahead of schedule but in fact performed more that I ever expected. When I took my car back to the body shop on Monday to get them moving again they began to tell me how hard it was going to be to get it finished in a month and within a day the owner began showing his true colors. He had all kinds of excuses as to why he could not get the job finished on time and so on. Not once in this entire project has he proven to be an ethical or responsible businessman let alone remember our original meeting where all of the above was spelled out in great detail.

There are far too many reputable body shops around to force me to continue to tolerate any more such immature business practice as he has shown so today I made several calls to find someone else. As it turns out everyone I showed the car too asked me why it was taking them so long. I took the car to a shop to inspect the car and wrote an estimate and they told me the car will probably be completed in less than two weeks. One bit of good fortune about this experience was while I was at the body shop a manager walked out of a back office and to both our surprise it was a long lost friend of mine who had painted one of my other Shelbys and many of my customer's cars some years ago. Not only do I know I can trust this man but in fact I know his work to be awesome. We had a few laughs and as I was leaving he said, "Don't worry about your car. If we have a car over 30 days we lien sell it. LOL"

Boy am I glad I don't have to worry about who works on my cars.


George Sullivan said...

I have heard that same horror story many times before. It seem a tolal lack of urgency by the people you really need to depend on. That is the reason we chose to build our car ourselves plus our limited budget played into it .Somehow when all seems hopeless everything has a way of working out for the best as in your case. When it came to doing the final body work and paint we called in a friend who we could depend on. Remember schedules are made to be broken.

Gary Faules said...

I am a man who takes pleasure in doing business on a handshake and it pleases me to meet others that extend that same courtesy. As the law requires, I give every customer a written estimate and in most cases we are able to tell our customers when a job will be completed. Of course those are those times when we find the unexpected, i.e. a broken or hard to get part and but even then we do our very best to "communicate" with our customer so that everyone is on the same page. This also helps make every experience as painless as possible. However as it turns out the shop that had my car had very few communication skills and we were not on the same page. He was making it more like a novel!

Yes, you are correct. There are times when we believe things look pretty dark when and we can't see any way they could get any better and then something happens and all of a sudden everything takes a turn for the best. That is exactly what happened in this case and even reunited two old friends in the process.