About 10 years ago, I learned a great lesson about finding a service shop you can trust. The anti-lock brake light was illuminated in my old Dodge Dakota, so I did what any naïve car owner would do: I took it to the closest shop, a national chain that promised impeccable brake service. Hours later, the store manager called with the news: I needed my brakes replaced. I was bemoaning the $800 quote over lunch with a buddy, and he recommended I take my car to “his guy,” who he promised would be trustworthy.
I made the effort, driving about 20 miles out of my way to see him on the hope that I could save myself a hundred dollars or so. Then he called with a simple question: “Do you tow a trailer?”
“Is it a boat trailer?”
“Do you unplug the lights before you back the trailer into the water?”
“Well, you blew a fuse. I went ahead and replaced it, and the ABS light isn’t on any longer. And your brakes look fine.”
My total cost for the repair was $14, so I saved quite a bit more than the $100 I was hoping for. I did business with him for the life of the vehicle and the life of my next truck.
Recently, I’ve become fond of a service shop within a couple of miles of my home. It isn’t the cheapest shop by any stretch of the imagination, but I can trust them. And I know this because of my most recent experience.
I’ve had an oil leak in my Chrysler Sebring. I took it in about six months ago to have it fixed, and even after they changed a faulty gasket, the problem didn’t go away. A couple months later when I noticed a new puddle of oil on the garage floor, I took it back in. They replaced another part. But the cool thing was they didn’t charge me for the part because they hadn’t solved the problem the first time I was in.
Even with the new part, however, the leak still didn’t go away. So, a month later when I needed an oil change, I took it back to them and asked them to check the leak again. By this time, most people would have lost patience, but the discount the last time I was in gave me a little more understanding. And at this visit, they did what they probably should have done from the start: they placed a die in the oil so they could track where the leak was coming from. Low and behold, the gasket they had replaced at the outset of this problem was still the culprit. They replaced it again — once again at no charge to me — and I haven’t had a problem since.
The experience could have been horrific. The way the company handled the issue and ultimately solved the problem without nickel and diming me to death was greatly appreciated. It demonstrates to me that I can trust them. And frankly, whether it’s during times like these where we’re all pinching pennies or during the good times where our spending is much less scrutinized, that trust is the principle factor in how we choose who we’re going to do business with.