Auto Shop Management Forums

Find answers, ask questions, and connect with our community around the world.

  • Shop Customers vs. Techs Customers

    Posted by SSF on March 1, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Hello everyone,

    I’m just willing to share my recent experience on Shop vs. Techs Customers topic. Currently I changed my Shop policy and no longer allowing to use customer supplied parts because I started noticing that some specific techs aren’t generating revenue from parts. To my surprise after a month of implementing this policy one of my best Techs which highest interest rate handed me his leave notice.

    After a short discussion I discovered that some of my Techs already have their own customers (neighbors, sisters, brothers, lovers and and by the way my Shop customers as their own…) who are fixing cars at my shop and not realizing that they are paying same amount of money to my Tech directly instead of paying to the cash register. And they are getting non existing discounts from the Techs.

    After further investigation I found out that couple of my techs and reception guys are working together and using their personal phones to call back customers and parts suppliers to keep this scheme running.

    So in conclusion a simple thing like restricting customers from supplying their own parts revealed ongoing reception + techs symbiosis which was hidden behind phrases like “…well you know these days customers can find information on the internet…” or “…parts suppliers are giving huge discounts to our customer directly and we cannot compete with them…”. Oh yes and best one “…customers with their own parts? Well it’s better than nothing right? Techs will at least earn some money.”

    What I’m saying is just take a closer look to your Techs and guys working at the reception because from time to time your shop customers might become your techs customers without even knowing.

    And yes I agree that this was my fault that I didn’t pay attention to drop in parts revenue and believed these silly stories about customers buying their own parts 😉

    Bob Ward replied 4 years, 3 months ago 8 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
Advertiser / Sponsor
  • Bob Ward

    March 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Are you aware this is actually theft? All involved parties should be made aware you are onto this scheme. I do not think it is a result of your policy change. It sound like this has been going on for a while. Your lead tech obviously doesn’t want to be a part of this. You have said this has been going on for a while because your staff knew you were not paying attention to the numbers. Have you considered legal, criminal action and  termination? Perhaps your employee who just handed you his resignation would stay on if the participants in this scheme lost their jobs. You and he could start to rebuild your business and by watching the numbers closely you could spot any potential problem long before it becomes a major issue.

  • SSF

    March 6, 2018 at 4:37 am

    You’re totally right – it is a theft but it’s hard to prove because you have to catch them red handed. Customers are not willing to participate in this and no one is willing to give out any information as a witness. About the lead tech who handed the resignation papers – he’s 100% ok with this scheme because he could earn more money from the parts plus the labor rate we agreed on. And the worst thing is he doesn’t see anything illegal here. Well as far as I know he even directed some of his customers to a near by shop and got some interest there. I know it sounds crazy but this is what I got for not paying attention and avoiding confrontation with some of the best employees event I was noticing strange behaviors.

    As for the service adviser I’ll ask him to leave because I don’t believe he will stop doing similar schemes.

    For me the moral of the story is:
    – if you have any suspicion don’t hesitate or postpone. Have a chat with your employees
    – if it’s a fact let these people go as soon as possible so they won’t give any examples to newcomers
    – don’t believe stories about customers buying their own parts and so on… trust numbers
    – catch them red handed if possible and take legal actions


  • chcinc

    March 7, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Not only is it theft, but depending upon the state your in, and if its over $500, its a serious crime. You can easily peel back the onion on these types of schemes and prosecute. You have to go about finding enough evidence. Talk to your parts suppliers owners or district managers to get info on deliveries to your address, look at the vehicle info, dates, times, chart it out. Note the vehicle types. You can easily build a case and you may not need an attorney. You bring the facts to a detective or DA office. They will then investigate. Most likely the parties will start by lying to the DA, also a crime. Soon they will dig a hole. We prosecuted a guy and in the end he was very sneaky, but he lied about something and he destroyed copies of work orders and did you know in many states that is a crime? Destroying company documents for personal gain was a class D felony with a 2 year conviction.

    Send a message or else they will steal again.

  • eric davis

    March 7, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    My only advice here is if they’ll do it once it will happen again. Prosecuting would be nice, but it would also be an effective waste of your time. You have to fire everyone and start over with new people. It’s unfortunate but necessary. Good Luck


  • dieseldean

    March 7, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Good evening,

    Just to share with you some experience. I have had being in business for 30 years.

    I understand the feeling of frustration, treason, and just plain lying to you has brought you to this point. Its cheaper  emotionally  and financially to clean house earlier vs. latter.  I have done it both ways multiple times.  Put out adds for new mechanics and fire everyone at the same time same day.  Get your ducks in a row by having car count down, big projects finished, final pay checks ready, and lots of prayer. Good Luck


  • jbrenn77

    March 10, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I agree with Dieseldan and ericdavis.

  • Brian Maillet

    March 10, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    On the flip side of the discussion, I worked with a manager for 10 years as a tech then he became an owner . I was a lead / forman for 3 years for him, when I was called into his office for a ” review”  and was told “anybody could do my job”. At that point I started sending out resumes and doing interviews. I left 1 year later after he hired someone I said he should not hire. The hire ended up hurting himself on the job, and still have not replaced me ( full licenced tech with 20 plus years experience) . I DID NOT LEAVE FOR MONEY.

  • SSF

    March 13, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Thank you for your insights and support. I really appreciate it. I joined your discussion board from over seas. I’m based in eastern Europe so some rules are a bit different here but after I reviewed multiple topics on your site I realized that we share same views and we have similar issues.

    My further actions are to change my employees and start over again from scratch. It will be very hard for me because this business is running since 1992 and I took over it 5 years ago from my father. I hope I won’t destroy it by taking these actions.

    I think I did my best in those 5 years to rebuild our customer base and take care of our employees but what I didn’t realize that some of the employees didn’t like it too much because whey couldn’t work on their own and earn extra money on a side.

    Well wish me luck 😀


  • Chris Cotton

    March 20, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Did you have any signed paperwork(NDA) protecting your client lists and or a non-compete clause document? I realize these are hard to enforce but if you never got one signed  then you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

  • SSF

    March 22, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Hi Chris,

    I never thought about that. I understand it’s hard to implement but it’s easy to get these papers signed by my employees. Then I’ll have some additional leverage in case of previously mentioned situation.

    Thanks a lot I’ll definitely get these papers signed by everyone in my workshop.

  • Bob Ward

    March 24, 2018 at 10:26 am

    If you are watching your numbers closely, especially your declined/invoice back out numbers this would never happen. You service adviser should be selling the work not the techs.