How Much Is Education On Pricing Issues?

How less becomes the more you don't want!

It's the most common question asked of folks like us. But it's the wrong question. If you keep calling long enough you will always find a cheaper price. But the truth is, that's the worst way to pick a shop that you'll be happy with in the long run. It almost always guarantees an unhappy outcome.

Think about it...

Times have changed...dramatically!

Saabs have become very complex, high performance machines. Simple answers have become rare. It takes a great deal of skill and equipment to repair modern cars and just as much skill to run a long lasting shop. Over the years ScandiaTek has outlasted sixteen other local independent car shops and five dealerships since it began in 1980 for three reasons...level of skills, quality of workmanship, and customer satisfaction...and that takes a substantial amount of unique professionalism.

You cannot afford nor should you tolorate low quality, low value service. Nor should you accept being treated like a number. You bought an import to be different...not to be one of the crowd. You want the service to match the car as well as the car matches your personality. However, spending the most is no quality guarantee either, and can be just as wasteful.

Your Import is a great machine. It's safe, it's fun, and it's's not just simple, boring, low cost transportation. You're not simple either. You want value for your money and a good feeling about where you spend it. You want to understand the reasons for your expense and the value of your descision. So the questions should be...How valuable is...?" It's not a matter of paying too much or too little, as much as the value of what you got for what you did pay.

ScandiaTek has a really tough sell these days. Apples to apples. We have found that all too often the difference in the price of a job between two shops is from what is or isn't done with that job...NOT just a price difference. Other shops may leave important items off of the repair list of things they do or use. That difference will often show up later in additional repair needs or as a shorter life of the original repair. Since most customers do not know this, they fall victim of such unprofessional practices every day...especially if they only use pricing as the decision factor.

An example is a head gasket replacement. It's an expensive engine repair. In our survey, ScandiaTek was the only local shop that replaced headbolts with the job. (They hold the head to the block) The reason?... they are a one use bolt. Once set they will no longer again retain the important charactoristic of stretching to allow proper movement and torque. Reusing them will guarentee a repeated failure.

ScandiaTek's thoroughness is more valuable long term savings over any difference in the original quote savings you may recieve elsewhere. Quality properly done work is always less expensive in the long run.

So the trick is, how do you find a great shop at the RIGHT price? A price where the value matches your rightful expectation of work done correctly the first time, on time, at the agreed amount, and with clearly understood communications. So the trick is, how do you find a great shop at the RIGHT price? A price where the value matches your rightful expectation of work done correctly the first time, on time, at the agreed amount, and with clearly understood communications. So the trick is, how do you find a great shop at the RIGHT price? A price where the value matches your rightful expectation of work done correctly the first time, on time, at the agreed amount, and with clearly understood communications.
Our Services

The Truth About Labor Charges

This Section deals with general repair shops and not discount chains like muffler or oil change shops. Chains sell price first and have a supporting structure of low costs to do so. Specializing in a very narrow line of products requires lower installation talent and the costs savings of both allows price to be the true product they offer.

Shops can use some very confusing (even to themselves sometimes) systems to figure the price of a repair. It may even include guessing! Usually it includes a charge for labor and parts with some minor others sprinkled in. Where these numbers come from is sometimes a mystery. Suppliers have "suggested" retail prices, (which vary amongst suppliers) shops use various "markup" formulas, some just guess or price by comparing to what other shops charge. Few use sound business practices. Thus, the often confusing array of estimates you get when asking "how much?"

The following are some definitions of basic pricing concepts used in the industry and where the public can often get confused.

Labor Charges

Many service shoppers know that most repair shops have a "per hour" labor charge for working on the car. Therefore, it makes sense to them to ask what that rate is when looking for a shop. What the consumer rarely knows, is that the "actual time" it takes to do the job is often different than what the shop uses to compute charges for the job.

Makes no sense?.... right!

Many shops open up a book that various companies supply them and use the hours that the book indicates as a "time to do the job" and charge that time, multiplied by their hourly charge, to come up with the "labor charge" for the job. (Note also that the books many times disagree as to the amount of time per job)

Example: 2.5 hours (book time) X $60.00 per hour (shop rate) = $150.00 labor charge.
If doesn't matter how long the job actually takes... you get charged $150.00 for labor.
Now as long as you know ahead of time the cost of the job, this method of pricing doesn't really matter.... EXCEPT for one issue, people tend to compare the shops more by their "hourly" or "flat rate" charge, then their end price.

So...guess what some shops do...charge LESS per hourly charge and MORE hours for the job…There is NO law against it as long as the estimate for the WHOLE job is met. There are shops in the Denver area that charge as little as 1/2 of what other shops charges per hour yet the total job is still within 10%. Go figure?

They know some consumers call ahead and tend to go to the shops with lower hourly charges, even though in the end, it may mean virtually the same end cost as any higher charging shop.

So where is all this headed?

Once again I conclude that one must measure the quality of work first and the value of that work second. Comparing hourly flat rates is generally useless.

Parts Charges

This one is just as confusing. Not only are there many pricing schemes but many different parts sources and manufacturers. One can even buy the same part that SAAB uses, from the manufacturer that sells it to SAAB. This means a whole level of markup is bypassed. Larger shops get bigger discounts from suppliers, SAAB dealers get discounts from SAAB but independents must by from those Dealers paying a markup from them. Dealers are restricted from buying parts like independents do from manufacturers that in turn supply SAAB, missing out on those discounts... Well... get the picture?

Some shops sell at the manufacturer’s suggested list price, some markup all parts as a percentage of either their cost or off of list, some shops pick arbitrary numbers…here we go again…see how useless comparing prices is?

What You Need to Ask Is...

  • What quality of parts will be used?
  • What comes with the job?
  • How much is the completed job?
  • And most importantly...ask yourself were you happy with the whole event?
  • Ask yourself this... would you do your job better if your Boss paid you less or more?
What sets the value of the job is your concept of its relationship to your wallet. If you shopped price, and got the lowest, then be happy with that. Even if the car isn't fixed (and that's highly probable). If you shopped quality, and got the best, then be happy with that. What sets the price of the job is up to the skill of the shop owner. What sets the value of it is you.

If I had "the dime" for every time I heard the phrase "I want it fixed right but I don't want to spend a lot of money", I'd be rich.... NOT that quality is more expensive, for now days it’s usually "cheap" that becomes more expensive than "quality", in the end.

Never spend too much but spending too little will almost always cost you more in the long run.

Choosing A Good Shop!

ay you were looking for dog collar. One made by THE DOGGONE GOOD CO. A red one size 6. Knowing all of the details you could be very assured as to getting exactly what you wanted. You'd be a fool to buy it anywhere less then the cheapest wholesaler right?... It's the same collar no matter where you bought it. It just makes since that because you can verify it, why spend anything more for the same thing.

That may be true for hard goods but for service it couldn't be further off. Would you expect fast food service at an expensive French restaurant?

Warehouse shopping has some how crept into American thinking for service too. Quick change oil or muffler shops are one thing but general repair and maintenance is very much another.

The usual criteria that a customer uses for picking a new repair shop, is to ask for the cost of a repair or service, and then pick the lowest bid. The conversation goes something like this . . . . "How much for such and such repair?" My response is, "Why are you looking for a new shop?" Their answer is almost always the same, "Because I'm unhappy with the last repair shop, and the one before that, and the one before that" and so on and so on . .

Because people have so much trouble finding a good shop, I have devised this method to help them. This formula is simple and works a majority of the time, on most makes; don't skip any of the parts though.
  1. Pick a very definable repair, like a water pump, and be specific that you only want a NEW ONE. Compare "apples to apples" on what is included.
  2. Call shops that specialize in the fewest makes of cars as possible, preferably only your make.
  3. Find the shops whose estimates are the highest for the repair AND have been in business the longest. (remember, flat rate -charge per hour- is useless for comparing)
  4. Go to those shops and inspect them, looking for all of the following:
  5. Cleanliness of the shop and the employees.
  6. Special tools and current manuals for your vehicle make.
  7. A comfortable feeling when conversing with their service writer and technical people. Do they look you in the eye? Smile? Take time?
  8. Look for recent recommendations from repeat customers.
The reasons are simple; shops that knowingly charge more, usually provide quality service, using better parts, more complete methods, have more experienced "tech's" and can afford to take the time to do it right.

A clean shop usually represents the pride of the owner and his commitment to run an orderly repair shop, and it usually reflects the type of work done too.

If they have also been in business for five or more years, someone else thinks they're good too. It's no secret, "cheap" is easy to provide, (for a short time) and in high demand. On the other hand, "quality" is very seldom properly sought after and therefore more rare. Quality service can not be cheaply produced in a foreign country and imported in mass quantities. With "cheap" you're only happy with the price. You are seldom satisfied with the "quality" of the work, or the long term negative effect on your wallet and good nature. Many "cheap" trips cost more than fewer "quality" ones

Things NOT to base your opinion on.
  • A full lot.
  • Snappy uniformed "Service Writers."
  • Claims of "Factory Trained Technicians."
  • Number of years in business ALONE.
A full lot doesn't always mean the shop is good. All it means is, there are a lot of cars waiting for something to be done, such as parts, comebacks, service to be paid for, some that they own, and usually several abandoned cars. Full lots sometimes represent poor organizational skills. Another consideration is... do you really want to be among those long lines waiting? I have seen many a shop close with full lots, for lack of profit, good business sense, and happy customers. Cheap shops are always busy, right up to the end.

A sharp looking Service Writer is no guarantee either. Clean yes, but it's what they know about business, cars, and people that counts. How do they make you feel? Do they promote trust? Good will? Do they spend time with you? Do they show you parts, illustrations, etc.? It's a lot of money you're going to spend on "whatchamacallit's." Your gut is the best defender you have, TRUST IT!

"Factory Trained" can mean little. It might be, it was a long time ago and not the "tech" working on you car. Training is like practicing law or medicine - it's ongoing and a matter of pride, resources, and basic skills. The difference between "parts replacers" and "tech's" that diagnose the cause of your cars ills will mean more. Good manuals, special tools, reward by the shop owner for doing work right, and personal care, are what really counts in technicians. Many years at repair for a technician do not necessarily mean he's good. Attitude and professionalism far out weigh the damage that an "aged" technician with a "hacker" mentality can do.

In a big city, a shop can go through lots of unhappy customers before finally going out of business, so years alone are no guarantee.

Specializing in a narrow range or exact make is important. It is virtually impossible now days to "know them all." There are just too many parts, methods, and changes to keep up on. There is an enormous value in your favor when they specialize in few or your make only.

So, while the methods for picking a good shop are still 90% certain, using "price only" is usually 99% certain to put you back on the phone, looking again, and again.......
Schedule Service

Share by: