|10-16-2012 11:32 AM|
|10-16-2012 11:29 AM|
I met with a guy last night at a local shop that does body, paint and mechanical and specializes in classics and hot rods. About 40 years old and what a nice guy. He took two hours of his time last night to walk me through his shop, show me his portfolio and give me some rough estimates and plans. Night and day compared to the other jerk. He's a perfectionist and is willing to work with me. LOVES classics and seemed eager to work on my car. If I had my own space and the money, I'd try to do a lot of this myself, and I do what I can. Tomorrow I'm painting all the accessory engine parts.
|10-15-2012 09:56 PM|
|1971BB427||Sounds like it's time to look for a place with a garage, not another shop! Considering what you're paying in repairs, you could probably find a place with a garage and do the work yourself.|
|10-15-2012 09:45 PM|
Good on you for listening to the guys on this board. I'm sure when you're driving your car about this time next year and he's closing his doors due to word of mouth, he'll know what's up.
|10-15-2012 09:40 PM|
LOL, my brother had a guy ok everything over the phone and he didn't record it on the work order. The guy came in to pick up the car and looked at the work order seeing that there was no record of his call and refused to pay. He got the job for free.
The consumer is ALWAYS right in California.
But there is also the old rule when in war, and I live by it, "Is this the hill you want to die on?" Paying the jerk a few extra bucks and getting the hell out of there to enjoy your life makes more sense to me than fighting over $50.
|10-15-2012 03:40 PM|
question for the more experienced business owners:
at what point should the District Attorney get involved? I know California and New York have some pretty hefty penalties for taking advantage of consumers. i should think screwing with the books, billing for mechanics tools, doing work thats not on the work order, and essentially holding the vehicle hostage...not to mention at least one comment that could be construed as a threat....
|10-15-2012 03:24 PM|
I forgot to comment on that! What an asinine idea to make him pay for a tool you broke? HUH?
|10-15-2012 02:12 PM|
Joe; you realize the owner has been sidestepping people a long time when he seems this adept.
Perhaps you can post a big city near you, and some of us can tap some people on the shoulder and see if we can find you something suitable. By the way, when the fellas here say 'tow truck' they mean get a 'rollback' or flatbed.
Document all this; in case it becomes a legal matter. I'd also like to point out, unless I need a special tool for a special job- like specific helical guides for cutting gears - (we do a lot of custom work and prototyping here) thats NOT factored into your cost as a consumer. So what? every schlub who breaks a 3/8" ratchet gets to bill the customer for Snap-On and go buy Harbor Freight. Run; don't walk my friend.
|10-15-2012 12:21 PM|
|10-15-2012 12:15 PM|
1)It's true, it was Friday and he could've been behind, but he's consistently pushed me off over and over again telling me it would be worked on this day and that day only to have it pushed again...Or the time he told me to come down, then when I got there, says "I'm going to get my haircut. Be back in a little." letting me wait 45 minutes. I made sure to ask "Are you sure Friday is safe?" He said "Yes, just show up in the morning," which I did, got told to come back 3 hours later, I do that and then he tells me to come back Monday. I lost money from taking the day off, still tried to be understanding and told him I'll come back on Monday. That didn't stop him from being a jerk.
2) People have bad days, but disrespecting my time on several occasions sounds like many bad days to me.
3 & 4) If someone won't let me document a restoration, I'm not going to take my business there. That was one of the things I was upfront about. Besides, it's free publicity for them when I post the photos on the restoration website. I don't think they do shotty work. They do a good job. Dealing with the attitude and lack of respect is another thing. The mechanic working on my car is A-class, but the owner thinks he's hot stuff. Maybe he is in the locality.
They're not charging me storage, but they are also not waiting on me either. I've been ready to go, but they have been the ones stalling or working on other stuff, waiting on the engine to come back from the machine shop THEY recommended. I don't feel like they're doing me any favors keeping my car in their lot.
There have been other occasions where he was rude, including when they were dismantling the engine to see it's condition. They told me they'd fit in at some point during the week and I told him to please call me when they start working on it so I can come in since the time was rather vague. No, instead he calls me at the week's end, mad on the phone and says "Where were you? You should've been here today. I could've used an extra set of hands. You were supposed to be here." I replied "I didn't know what day you were going to work on my car. You never told me." He then said "Anyways...." and continued.
As for today's events...I wanted to pull my car out, but there a few circumstances that made that tough. For one, I live in an apartment complex and they don't allow unregistered vehicles or projects on the property due to limited space. The garage I had thought about towing it to told me they won't touch something that some other shop has had their hands in and try to finish it off because they don't want the liability. In essence, I need time to find a place to have it towed to and at 8am this morning when I was supposed to be at this garage, I wasn't going to have such luck.
When I got there my car was already on the lift and the owner came out and started working on it promptly at 8am. I figured well, I'll let them get this done because it was scheduled then that will be it. He was using a blow torch to loosen the bolts holding the gas tank on with gas still in the tank, which threw a few thoughts across my mind as I stood WAAAAY back. He turns to me and says "Won't find too many people crazy enough to do that will you?"
The other mechanic came in and started working on removing the power brake booster and master cylinder and had a darned time getting the nut off which was behind the steering column and required a special wrench they didn't have.
About 2 hours into the job, the owner comes over to me and asks if I'd do him a favor and follow his son across town to the shop that does alignments (for another customer's truck) so that I could give him a ride back to the garage and they could keep working on my car. I agreed.
When I got back, it was 11am and they were pretty much done with the removal and the owner said "I'm going to bill you for 3 hours. By the way, I broke a $40 tool trying to pry that thing off." Meanwhile, the mechanic was still toying around with removing the brake vacuum reserve tank, which I didn't need done at that time, nor had I requested. When I get into the office, the owner says "Well, now it's more like 3 1/2 hours." He took ten dollars off the hourly rate but still charged me tax and insisted I pay in cash, which rings a few bells. No concessions for the fact that I told him I lost work Friday when he told me to come in and then pushed me off, nor for doing him a favor driving his son. Not that I expected it, but still.
We stepped outside and rolled the car back into place and the owner says "You're bringing her back to life. Might not be much now, but you'll be proud when you're done. Like I said, you took what I said the other day to heart." I replied "Well, what offended me more was the phone call where you told me to 'man-up' and accused me of throwing a baby-fit." He says to me "Well, I don't pull any punches. I tell it the way it is." All that did was fuel me back up. I said "I tell it the way it is too." He interrupts me and says "Sometimes that can be a good thing and sometimes not." Before I had a chance to go on further, he said he had to get back to work, shook my hand and walked away.
For a few moments I began to think maybe we could make this work and I tried to keep an open mind. The last ten minutes I was there changed all that. I'm now looking for a shop that would be willing to take it in. I'll gladly pay a storage fee to any place, so long as they are respectable, but I can't have it towed with no place to go. I feel like the older generation seems to be a little more on top of proper business etiquette than the younger generation, including my own, who seem to have big egos and a lot of attitude. It's disappointing. I'm not looking to get into a p__sing match with him because nothing I say is going to change his attitude. He's right. I'm wrong. Doesn't matter if I'm the customer or not. Overall, the quality of their work is good - but at what cost?
|10-15-2012 11:56 AM|
On the hourly labor, unfortunately we have to honor the hourly rate we give one particular insurance company to their insured even when it's a cash deal. That rate is $13 less per hour than our "gate rate". So we do it between the insurance company and cash jobs probably 35-50% of our jobs! It's a killer but that is the sort of thing you need to do in business. We are talking about 3.5 million$ a year so we are working in big volume.
|10-15-2012 11:21 AM|
When an AVERAGE (not all) body shop tells you they will lower the hourly rate by $10.00 per hour,that is B--- S---,they can just add (and a LOT of them do) a couple of hours to make up that $10.00 discount.i like to use the local 1 or 2 man shops that have a good reputation,ask around,there are many of them,i would take 3 or 4 of my buddies,and a wrecker and go pick up my car,that guy is an A-- H---,
|10-15-2012 08:46 AM|
Here's an article I wrote on the subject years ago.
Confessions of a body shop owner.
By Brian Martin
“Anybody know of a good body shop in (enter your city name here)?”, “How do I get my body shop to work on my car?”, “My car is being held for ransom!”, or just simply “Body shop Blues”. I’m sure you have all seen topics similar to these posted. Gentlemen, my name is MARTINSR and I was one of those dirty rotten bastards that would keep your car ten times longer than I promised.
For the guy not doing his own body work or at least not all of it, he is at the mercy of the body shop. It is not a nice position to be in. In fact, it can go down as one of the low points in your life. I have seen horror stories that would make your hair stand on end. A long time customer of mine (he owned about 60 cars and usually had a few in shops around the area at all times) had a car that was held as evidence in a murder. Yep, it had blood splattered on it when one of the shops owners killed the other with a baseball bat!
The following is my generalization of restoration shops that I have owned, seen or worked at. There are exceptions to the rule. Please don’t beat me up if I have rolled your shop into the mix when you are an exception. But, if you do see yourself, I suggest you get down to your neighborhood junior college and take a course or two in business. One of the great myths is that we each think our business is so unique, we can’t learn from a “regular” business class. Well after much instruction and exposure to the business side of things I can tell you, business is BUSINESS. Whether you are running a liqueur store, a cat house, or a body shop, they are all exactly the same. Sales are SALES, period.
So, we can agree a body shop is a business, being a good body man does not make you a good businessman. Restoration shops are usually owned by good body men, not good businessmen. It is very hard to make money doing restoration work, it is very easy to make money doing regular collision work. The business man makes his money doing collision work and tells all the customers with restoration work to go to Joe’s Body shop down the street, he does the restorations. Joe loves doing what he is doing, but seldom makes much money. He is an artist, a true master at his craft. Joe sees things at what they can “become”, not what they “are”. When Joe sees a car he doesn’t see the time it will take to make it the show winner he knows it will be, he only sees it as the show winner. I really don’t believe he means to lie to you when he says it will be done in a month, he is looking at through rose colored glasses, his vision is altered. Like a woman forgets the pain of giving birth, so does Joe when he gazes upon the beautiful car he has carried for nine months (or longer). And when the next rust bucket rolls in, he has forgotten about the hundreds of hours needed, he only sees a luscious rose garden.
Like I said few make a living at restoration or hot rod work. The biggies that you have heard of like Roy Brizio or Boyd Codington all make money with other ventures, not the rod shop. The first time I visited Brizios shop this was very apparent. The rod shop is about 5000 square feet sitting in the middle of a 50,000 square foot building. The rest of the building is Brizios manufacturing business. It is all non auto related by the way. The rod shop is a hobby, I don’t doubt for a second he makes money, but it is a hobby none the less.
So when you go looking for a shop to do your car you have to remember this, you are most likely going to be dealing with an artist. If you think the business end of it is going to go smooth, think again. If you build yourself up and believe everything, you are in for a BIG let down. If you set yourself up for less than that you will be much better off. I suggest getting ready for MUCH, MUCH less and then you will be happy when it only takes five months instead of the ten you got ready for. If he said one month and that is what you are planning, by the time five months rolls around you are ready to kill someone.
These are HUGE generalizations but I have found a few signs that may help you in picking out a shop. If nothing else they will help you understand who you are dealing with.
1. If there is more than one car sitting in the shop covered with dust, this may be a bad sign. If you have been around body shops much you know that dust build up is like the rings in a tree, you can tell by the layers and colors how many YEARS it has been sitting. If there is a car that is being used for storage of misc. boxes and things, bad sign. My brother used to joke that I should bolt a vice on the fender of the car, at least I could get some use out of it! Coyly ask “Cool car, is that yours?” if he says “Naw, it’s a customers”, BAD SIGN. If there are ten stalls in the shop and six have dust covered cars in them, RUN. I shouldn’t have to tell you this one, but if there are guys hanging around with beers in their hands, RUN.
2. How many stalls does he have? I have found that the real restoration/rod shops seem to have only room to have three or four cars at a time. If you only had room to work on three cars, you are going to be damn certain they get out so you can have room for the next. One of the most successful custom shops I have ever seen was a little four stall shop in Pittsburgh California. It is the famous (well at least on the west coast) DeRosa and son Customs. Frank has been around since the fifties making show winning cars. He and his son Frank Jr. do the same today and do it FAST. They a neat, little and clean shop. If you have seen the 2001 DuPont calendar they did the “Cadster”. It was only in the shop for a few weeks. By the way, it doesn’t have DuPont primers on it like the calendar says, Martin Senour primer was used.
3. Does he look at your car like they do at the McPaint shops, you know, all jobs all colors the same price? If he doesn’t take a good long look at the car taking notes, he has no clue what he is doing. He is looking at the car with those rose colored glasses. Every single panel should be examined and noted for the amount of hours needed. If he just looks over the car without doing this he is surely going to be WAY off. If he is way off on how much he is charging you, what incentive does he have to work on it?
So let’s say you have a shop you would like to bring it to, you really need to case the joint. Turn into a stalker and keep an eye on the shop. You know for months that you are going to need a body shop. Watch the shops for months. Drive by during business hours and see if they are actually open. Many of these guys (remember they are not good businessmen) take their open sign as sort of a guide line. If it says 8:00 to 5:00 it is more like 9:15 to 2:00 then 4:25 to 7:00, they can’t get your car done like that. See if any cars leave. If you go by there and see the same cars sitting there and many little jobs going in and out, BAD SIGN. I have to tell you, those little money making collision jobs are dang hard to turn away. If I had a million hour job sitting there and it was the 28th of the month I am going to set it aside for the $800.00 job I can do in two days to pay the rent.
If they don’t allow you to walk around and check the place out, be wary. Look at the paint dept, does he have a booth? Is there junk and open cans all over? Is there many different brands of paint? This is usually not a good sign, he buys anything he can get his hands on. This is many times the sign of a “junior chemist”, they guy that mixes products and doesn’t follow tech sheets.
If you have decided that this is the shop you want to go to, help the poor guy. You “suggest” to him how you want to go about the money part. This is the ONLY way you should do it believe me. Don’t give him a deposit and leave the car. This is darn near a guarantee that your car will be sitting for weeks while he uses that money to buy parts for a high profit collision job or simply pay a long standing bill. Which then leaves your car sitting there with no incentive to work on it.
Here is what you need to do. Tell him that you want to do only ONE of the things on your car, at a time. You want to get a price for all of them maybe so you know what it is headed, but do only one at a time. You will pay him for one step at a time. Not because you don’t trust him, but because YOU are bad with money and that YOU don’t want to leave him hanging after the car is done with no money to pick it up.
This way it is more like he is in control and made the decision. Then you negotiate the time it will take for each step. Let’s say you have patch panels to do on the front fenders. You agree that he will have them done at the end of the week, and that they will cost $200.00. He has something to work for, he knows he will get the money and he actually does it. You go see him on Friday see the work done and give him the $200.00. Then you pick another thing to do. Just as if you were doing these things at home, break them down into bite sized pieces so he can swallow them. If you go in there and find that he hasn’t done it or he has done poor work, you can then say “I am sorry to yank your chain, I don’t have any more money, I just lost my job” and take the car, no body owes a thing. If he does not want to do this, you really need to start rethinking your choice of a shop. Either this or variation of this should be fine with him. If it is not, something is wrong.
If he really wanted to make money he would be doing this. The first restoration job I ever did where I really felt I made money was done just this way. It was a little ’58 Bug eye Sprite. I had decided that something had to be done or I would fall into the same trap as before with a car sitting forever. One of the first shops I ever worked at was a full on restoration shop. It broke the rule and was pretty big, with four full time employees. Every car had a time card assigned to it. When you worked on the car, you punched in. Then each month (these were HUGE frame off restorations on 30’s and 40’s vintage Fords) the owner would receive a bill with the times worked. If they couldn’t pay, the car left, period. The guy made money and I finally got smart (after about 12 years in business) and followed his lead. I put a sign on this Bug Eye and would post the hours I spent on it. I told the guy to come by each week. Now, when the guy came in and saw only two hours were spent, he was not very happy. That was a heck of an incentive for me right there I will tell you that! It worked great, I actually got paid for every minute I worked, unlike most restoration projects. And he actually got the car back in close to what I said. It was still late, but not ten times as late as I had done before.
Another thing I highly recommend is to take plenty of photos of the car, really detailed photos. When you drop the car off leave him a copy of them. Letting him know you have a copy. Not threatening like “I am doing this so I can prove you lied to me” more like “I can’t wait to see how different it is and you can have these before shots to show future customers”. Which is true, it is just not the only reason you are doing it. If he is doing a full on restoration for you, I HIGHLY recommend parts like chrome and interior be taken home after he removes them so they don’t get stolen or damaged. You need to have a very close relationship with the shop, if these visits make the guy edgy, you really need to find another shop.
If you have the attitude that you are genuinely interested in how this work is done, not how he will do YOUR car, but just in general. You will find that he will be much more likely to “show off” his talents than if you go in there like an untrusting customer.
Along with these photos you want a VERY detailed work order. Run like the wind if he has no work order. Still run if he has a work order that says “fix dents and rust” as the repairs being done. RUN, I say. You need to have a fully detailed work order, not for legal reasons (wink, wink) but for your own records to show the wife where all the money went. The “wife” is a great way to get things done. You need to come look to see what is done because the wife wants to see. Bring her in there, she has an excuse, she knows nothing right? So you bring her in to see what magic this guy is doing to your car so she can understand why it costs so much. Bring a friend when you drop the car off, be sure he hears everything that is said. Let him or her help you make the decision on leaving it there. Sometimes YOU too can be looking through rose colored glasses. If someone else says they have a bad feeling, LISTEN to them.
There are few things that can compare with returning to a shop to find the place is locked tight and the mail is piling up on the floor where the carrier has dropped it through the slot. I have seen it, it really happens. The good news is it is rare, just take your time and find a shop where you feel comfortable.
|10-15-2012 08:09 AM|
I have been doing this a long time and I have seen both sides. I have a customer who has some mental problems and is VERY annoying. He comes by and calls over and over while the car is at the shop, weeks before and weeks after. He calls over and over with very stupid questions. But you know what, HE IS PAYING MY HOUSE PAYMENT and putting food on my families table, so I treat him with respect and SUCK IT UP. He is a wonderful guy who has some issues, I will take the time in my life to deal with those issues.
Businessmen who are "too busy" on a friday don't know how to schedule and are thus bad businessmen. I have been there, I have been a bad businessman, I know the routine. But every circumstance is a little different and we don't know a lot and we have given advice when we should get answers to the questions you have asked. But on the same note, red flags are red flags, how long do you wait?
Would I let someone document the work, GOD YES! First off, it's their right, there is NOTHING I could say other than YES, come on in! Do I encourage it, YES.
|10-15-2012 06:28 AM|
|GMCTRUCKS||Bottome line is some people just don't care my brother got messed around the same way kinda but he lost his 74 Pontiac Formula reason being to owner ofthe shop went to prison so when my brother found out about it they moved and his car was nowhere to be found he lost all sorts of new parts he quarter panels, doors, fenders, bumpers, and so on the only thing he kept was the motor and that's because he picked it up to work on it oh the car was a 4 speed with a rear dics brake set up.|
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