• March 25, 2017 at 11:38 am#65093

    The Customer That Wants to Supply Their Own Parts

    You don’t have to be in the auto repair business long before a customer asks you if they can supply their own parts. Although there is no one technique that will work in every case, here’s one approach you may want to consider.

    First of all, you’ll need to bear in mind that a customer is making this request because they feel it’s a legitimate one. They are simply trying to save as much money as they can, which is perfectly normal. With rare exception, these customers are unaware that you need to make a profit on your parts to stay in business.

    The reasoning for not installing a customer-supplied part is really pretty simple: It’s not in their best interest, because if that part fails, the responsibility will be on them. They’ll not only be responsible for the part that failed, but for all the ensuing labor costs, their loss of time when their vehicle is down for the second repair, etc. So rather than telling them something that makes them feel cheap or uncomfortable, the next time a customer asks if they can supply their own parts, you may want to say something like this…

    “Well, Mr. Kost, I appreciate your interest in helping, because it’s very kind of you to offer. Unfortunately, here at Elite Auto we’re unable to install customer-supplied parts, and here’s why: The very moment we install any part on your vehicle we become responsible, not just for that part, but for a lot more. If that part were to fail while it’s under warranty, we’re responsible for removing it, paying a tech to determine why it failed so it doesn’t happen again, buying a replacement part and having it delivered to us, and then installing it. We’re also responsible for any towing that may be required, and for any other parts that would be damaged due to its failure. And when you think about it, Mr. Kost, this is the way it should be, and it’s why we have so many loyal customers that send their friends to us. It’s our job to solve problems, and then stand behind our solutions.”

    “On the other hand, if we were to install a part that wasn’t one of ours, then we wouldn’t be responsible for it, or anything that may occur if it were to fail. I have to tell you, I’d much rather tell a customer that we’re unable to install a part they’d like to provide, than tell them we just installed their part, it failed, and now it’s their problem, not ours. Now here’s the good news for you: If we do the repair, I can have you back on the road by ___o’clock, and you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that you have safe, dependable transportation, and the entire repair, including all the parts and labor, will be backed up with our full ____ year _____mile written warranty. All that I need is your go ahead, and I can get Mike started on it right away.”

    This technique won’t work with every customer, because there is no one technique that will. The good news is, it will work with the kind of people that you would like to have as your customers.

    Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (http://www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Bob at [email protected], or at 800-204-3548.


    [email protected]

    March 29, 2017 at 9:32 am#74690

    The customer in not only unaware but does not care that you need to make a profit on your parts to stay in business. The customer who wants to supply their own parts only cares about “The CHEAP!” As in they want the repair and they want to try and cut costs anyway they can because, in their mind, you are too expensive. That is all. I sometimes use the term “consumer.” I define the consumer as: They don’t trust you, they don’t want to pay what it costs to fix their broken automobile, they don’t value you, they don’t even really care if their car is reliable, if it breaks down right after you fixed something else it will be your fault , they will complain and expect you to fix the new failure free or at a discount because, “Since you fixed my fuel pump my radiator is leaking, you must have done something to it.” The consumer consumes. They consume your time, your money, your good will, your faith in humanity and worst of all, your profit.

    To try and explain to the consumer that you want to supply the parts because that enables you to accept total responsibility for the repair gets lost when all they care about it the price. They don’t understand that IF the repair fails due to the part they want to buy because it is cheap they will be on the hook for more costs than if they had just allowed you to do it in the first place with YOUR parts. The consumer only sees, in their minds, that you are overcharging them for the part.

    There have been many articles written about court cases deciding that the shop was responsible for installing the customer’s inferior part because the shop agreed to accept the part from the supplier, in this case the customer. The shop accepted the part and in doing so agreed that the part was acceptable, proper and correct for the repair. The shop was the expert and therefore had the greater responsibility for acknowledging and determining the fitness of a said part for the needed repair. And by accepting the customer supplied part the shop accepted responsibility and liability for the repair involving said customer supplied part. No amount of disclaimers, waivers of liability or agreements, recorded, signed, notarized are going to save a shop from, “But you just fixed it!”

    Once upon a time we could take solace in the idea that if we did this for a customer and the repair went south and the customer bad mouthed us to others those others were one of two types of people, People who knew what kind of person Bad-Mouth Customer was and didn’t really pay attention and might actually give us their business out of pity or People just like Bad-Mouth Customer and we didn’t really want more of them anyway. But now with online reviews anyone can read the review, they don’t know Bad-Mouth Customer and will believe that we are an evil, dishonest shop because we refused to stand behind the repair we didn’t do right (when it was really their CHEAP inferior part that failed, not our work). And you tried to cheat Bad-Mouth Customer by charging them again to fix it right when you couldn’t fix it right the first time.

    No, there are too many pitfalls to accepting and installing customer supplied parts, even something as simple as wiper blades. Too many reasons not to and most of the customers who want to buy their own parts do so fully knowing that you need to make money on your parts, that you increase the value of said part as it is just one component of a complete repair that they can have confidence in and that you will stand behind. These consumers know all of this already, they simply are trying to get you do let them cheat you. And no amount of explaining anything will change their minds. I know, I have tried it.

    I get at least two calls a month, “Yeah, I need (insert repair job here). How much will it cost for you to replace the (insert part name here), I already have the part.”

    Often times they admit they bought the part online, typically like RockAuto or eBay or CarID. Cheap sites, sketchy parts brands but they were CHEAP! I have tried all manners of handling the call, accept the customer part, charge a higher labor rate, make them sign a waiver acknowledging they supplied the part and there is NO WARRANTY, to explaining the liability and warranty provided if my shop obtains and supplies the part. I have even answered objections like, “But I bought it right from Thirlby (a local independent chain of parts stores) , the same parts store you would be buying it from.” I explain that yes, I do buy parts from Thirlby but they carry cheap, low quality economy grade parts with short lifespans for cheap repairs and used cars and they carry top quality professional grade parts that repair shops use in order to provide a longer life higher value repair. That doesn’t matter. I explain that even it if is the exact same part, brand and supplier, if there is anything wrong with the part the store has no responsibility to my shop to help replace the part, the obligation is to the customer who bought the part only. I explain that there is no coverage for labor if the part fails and has to be replaced under warranty. I run the whole spiel in the OP, it simply does not matter to the customer who wants to supply their own parts. They have already decided that the repair is too expensive, you are too expensive and all the “Added value” you can offer isn’t of value to them. All they value is the CHEAP! It doesn’t matter that if they allow you to supply the part and do the job that the repair will last twice as long as the cheap part they bought and would install if,
    “it weren’t too cold outside,”
    “they had the right tools, “
    “they weren’t’ too busy and had the time.

    It doesn’t matter that the $300 repair today is cheaper than the two $200 repairs they will need over the lifetime of YOUR part. To the consumer who wants to supply their own part all that matters is THE CHEAP!

    The only proper way to handle the caller or person at your counter who wants to supply their own parts is, “I am sorry, but we do not install customer supplied parts under any circumstances. There are too many problems that arise from doing so.” The only time it is even remotely acceptable is if it is a very personal taste item like the customer bought a steering wheel cover with swoopy hearts all over it or they were given a gift like a back-up monitor that is a universal fit item. It’s hard to decline a gift and harder still for many recipients to install. Still then, it’s a tough situation. You install that back-up camera/new stereo/steering wheel cover and anything happens to it in the next forever and you are the expert who should know exactly why it stopped working or the hearts started peeling off after 6 months.

    I am sorry to disagree with the OP, but you shouldn’t even waste your time with the explanation of why you don’t installed customer supplied parts. The consumer doesn’t care, all they care about is finding someone willing to let the consumer cheat and consume them.

    “I am sorry, but we do not install customer supplied parts under any circumstances. There are too many problems that have arisen from doing so.”

    March 29, 2017 at 4:22 pm#74693

    I wish I could edit. I should have led in with the OP has a valid point that we shouldn’t be argumentative or confrontational with the customer/consumer. I fear I could be interpreted that way regarding my response to the OP.

    I agree we need to understand the customer, we need to deal with the consumer and we need to treat them as if they aren’t trying to cheat us. But I fully believe that the customer who wants to supply their own parts are, and that’s the reason for my very long post.

    But I apologize if anyone interprets my previous comment as being mean, dismissive or rude. I really didn’t mean it that way. I wish I could edit it and add my support for the OP but I still don’t think that we can change the part supplying consumer regardless of how we explain it. It’s just not possible with that type of customer. At least not in my experience.

    March 29, 2017 at 5:55 pm#74694
    Joseph Van syoc

    I generally just say “sorry, I don’t do that”. Most times, that’s all it takes. If they want an explanation, I explain it. I once worked at a shop that agreed to install a customers thermostat. It proved defective, overheating and damaging the engine. That shop ended up in a three way fight with both the customer and the parts supplier insisting the part was incorrectly installed. Thanks, but no thanks!

    April 5, 2017 at 5:07 pm#74698

    Owner supplied parts, and the warranty issues they can cause, are a great source of reputation destroying negative reviews. Just like doing sub-standard “patch-up” repairs. You do the person a favor but if something goes wrong you are going to be held responsible regardless of the warnings… one of my clients calls them “snake bite” customers. Give them a chance and these customers will bite you!

    After years of me telling this shop it was better to pass on people who don’t want to do business your way. The reputation damage these jobs caused has taken years to overcome. Zero income is better than spending on warranty work. That money is better spent on marketing for quality customers…

    June 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm#74761

    In Houston potential customers call multiple shops asking what the cost of labor is for installing their parts. It’s difficult to even get them into the shop because they will call another shop or hang up the phone abruptly if a price is not given post haste. (especially with transmissions).

    This is what we do… Try to find out what they think is wrong with their vehicle. Since they may be misinformed about what’s wrong in the first place. So we offer a no cost initial check out to verify the nature of the problem. Once the customer is in promptly check out the vehicle and lift check it. So in order to see if there are leaks or any thing disconnected or broken under the vehicle. Once done offer the repair and even if their diagnosis is right decline to use their parts. Beside the “no warranty” and “extra labor” argument we explain that our parts suppliers will make good on most questionable warranty disputes since we spend more money with them.

    The key for us is to keep a cool head and make that person your customer.


    August 25, 2017 at 1:19 pm#74821

    I agree with TheTrustedMechanic.  I have tried all of the different angles to try to educate and convert.

    Best answer:
    “I am sorry, but we do not install customer supplied parts under any circumstances. There are too many problems that have arisen from doing so.”

    Move on to people who want their car taken care of instead of people who want to devote 3 days to calling around and getting the cheapest phone quote.

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