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May/June 2002


Tech Tips     helpful hints

Ask the Doctor
   by Walt Gorman

Q: I get a lot of callbacks from customers a couple of months after I have done a repair.

The customer is concerned that the repair is failing. They tell me things like, "It looks like the break is coming back," or "You almost could not see it at first and now you can, will you come and take a look at it?"

Of course I have to go back and check it out. It is almost always fine and all I have to do is buff it up a little with pit polish. This is very time-consuming, but I really cannot refuse to go look at it. How would you handle this?

This comes under the heading of "setting the customer's expectations." It is important to let them know what they can expect before the job is started, not afterwards!

Most drivers do not know what to expect their repairs to look like. If they are under the impression that the repairs will be completely invisible then nothing less than this will satisfy them.

I tell them that this is a repair, not a cosmetic treatment. It will save them the cost of replacing the windshield. I add that they will be able to detect it, although it will be much less visible.

If they are very fussy and tell me they assumed that it would completely disappear, I would say they will probably not be happy with a repair and that they should probably buy a new windshield and hope it doesn't get a ding in it. After considering the cost factor, they will almost always tell you to go ahead with the repair. And best of all, you have satisfied customers simply because they knew what to expect beforehand.

The same explanation after the work is completed sounds like an attempt to justify a poor job.

The call-backs you are experiencing are, no doubt, due to the pit polish weathering (which it always does). This gives you two choices:

• Continue using pit polish and explain it will eventually weather and look a little different.

• Do not use pit polish, so that what customers see is the same as what they will see in a few months. They will have no reason to be alarmed at a change in appearance. Incidentally, some techs only polish dealers’ vehicles.

Q: A customer recently accused me of scratching the paint on his fender while I was stretching across it to do his repair. I am sure that I did not scratch it; it had to have been done either before or after my job. I cannot prove it, but neither can he. He is not a happy camper, to say the least. Do you have any suggestions?

Here is another case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure. The best way to win an argument with a customer is to avoid it in the first place. As long as he believes that he is right you are the loser.

Make a habit of looking the vehicle over before you begin and bring any damage to the attention of the owner. Very often he will not have been aware of the damage and would have assumed that you did it during the repair process. I doubt that many drivers would intentionally take advantage of you. There is always the possibility that another member of the family or a parking attendant had neglected to mention a little scrape or scratch, though. Many companies actually have places on their invoices where their technicians must list preexisting damage and require the owner to acknowledge and sign it before any work is begun. I have never found this to be necessary.

Please feel free to e-mail any questions you would like discussed in this column and include your telephone number so that I can clarify the question and get you an answer before the next issue is published.  

Walt Gorman is the owner and founder of A-1 Windshield Repair in Seekonk, Mass. He also runs a training school for auto glass technicians.


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