Viewpoint: Excuses and Tomorrows

Viewpoint: Excuses and Tomorrows

UntitledThere is an empty lot on West Market Street in Fairlawn, OH. From the street, you can see an old in-ground lift sticking up about a foot. From the ruins of the foundation, you can see two bays, an office and the tile floor for two bathrooms. Next to the foundation, you can see the footprint of a gas pump island. To me, the lift serves as a monument to where our industry was a reminder of and where it might go if we are not careful.

The building was torn down in 2009, and I can’t ever remember the gas station being open in the past 15 years. What happened? It is tough to say. The city records indicate that it was a Gulf and then a Sunoco gas station. The owner filed a building plan in 1991 to expand to five bays, but the planning commission postponed the plan until the fire department could do an inspection. At that meeting, a board member brought up that there were a lot of vehicles on the property without plates. In 1992, the owner asked for a variance for a larger Sunoco sign. Commission members stated that the owner had to clean up the property before they would even consider the new sign.

Abandoned in ground jackI am willing to bet if you asked the owner why he was closing back then, he would say cars are getting too complicated. Chances are the customers left when they could no longer count on the facility to reliably fix their vehicle. Now, the only witness that really knows is the lift that was left behind.

Looking at the past issues of Brake & Front End, there is always a major challenge facing the industry. In the 1930s, it was hydraulic brakes. In the late 1960s, it was disc brakes. In the 1990s, it was ABS and emissions controls. Every year there is a new technology bogeyman.

Bathroom floor tile from abandoned shopSome shops look at the advancement of technology and create excuses. The excuses and conspiracy theories blind them to the need for investing in training and tools. They take the gravy jobs and send the customer back to the dealer if things get too complicated. But, chances are, the customer will not come back.

Other shops look at the advancement of technology and see the opportunities. In the 1950s, some shops denounced self-adjusting drum brakes by saying they were too complicated, and loathed the fact that brake adjustments were not necessary every 2,000 miles. Other shops saw this as an opportunity to sell additional parts and a chance to charge more for labor for replacing self-adjusting hardware.

It can be said that TPMS is the self-adjusting brakes of the modern era. While some shops curse the TPMS, other shops are reaping the benefits of an additional service to sell their customers.

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