VIEWPOINT: Going For The Gravy Can you sell diagnostic time?

VIEWPOINT: Going For The Gravy Can you sell diagnostic time?

The gravy in the future will be diagnostic time and procedures performed with scan tools. You can see it with steering angle sensors, TPMS and re-calibration of sensors. In the future, it is only going to get better.

There is a term technicians and shops throw around, the word is “gravy.” This term refers to a job that is easy to perform or pays extremely well. It could be a brake job, control arm ­replacement or  transmission replacement. 
 
But, the gravy is changing with the vehicles. Call it better-made vehicles or more complexity, the gravy game is changing. 
 
The gravy in the future will be diagnostic time and procedures performed with scan tools. You can see it with steering angle sensors, TPMS and re-calibration of sensors. In the future, it is only going to get better.  
 
I predict in the next 10 years, a profitable shop’s revenue for diagnostic services will equal or surpass the revenue for normal labor.
Shops that are not able to make the shift will eventually go out of business. Why? because the business model of free inspections to find the gravy will change due to vehicle complexity. Also, the gravy will require information and special tools to eat. 
 
People have been complaining since the 1920s that new ­vehicles are getting too ­complex. Cars have always been changing. Services like valve lash adjustments, brake drum adjustments and ­­tune-ups were lost decades ago. These items were replaced with ­oxygen sensor replacement, ABS components and CV joints. In the next 10 years, diagnostics will be essential for selling the new batch of opportunities. 
 
 The era of “could you look at my car” is over. Your shop is also not a charity for diagnostic time. If a shop is not able to sell diagnostic time, it will be a slow death of your shop. Why? Because every time you send a vehicle to the dealership, swap parts instead of performing proper diagnostics or an older car is retired, a little bit of your business dies, never to return. 
 
So why don’t undercar shops adopt the policy of charging a diagnostic fee similar to what most shops have for checking out driveability problems? There are three myths that prevent this in the industry. First, the leading myth is that undercar repairs are not as complex as underhood service. Second, since brake, suspension and exhaust parts are not that expensive, you can afford to throw parts at a car until the problem is solved. Third, the belief that: “If I charge a diagnostic fee, the customer might go elsewhere.” All three myths are preventing some shops from being profitable. The current approach of finding the problem, writing an estimate and waiting for approval does not work in all cases. Charging for undercar diagnostic time is essential to not only becoming profitable, but to increase customer satisfaction. 

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