Invest your time
Time is one of those things that you cannot get back once it is gone. This is the same for you as a mechanic as it is for your customers. Many times, customers come in and we want to get them out as quickly as possible. This means that mistakes can happen and you need to be aware of this. Many times we end up wasting time by cutting corners and unintentionally missing a problem.
Cutting corners to save time
Time is perhaps the most valuable commodity we have. For some reason we don’t always use it wisely. Most quality work involves investing some additional time before any payback can be realized. Many technicians know this yet they come up with excuses like “That sounds great, BUT I don’t have the time”. It is true that the stresses of the shop environment can lead technicians to cut corners. This is a problem because when too many corners get cut the cost of accomplishment can quickly rise. It is important to be careful and try to recognize which things are top priority. It then becomes a simple matter of taking the time to focus on those things first.
Meeting Demands in a Constructive Way
Balancing the demands of high volume and quality work is not an easy task. When considering this, it is important to remember the saying “Nothing good in life is ever easy”. It is no different in this scenario. Accomplishing both goals in a consistent manner is what truly sets the TOP shops apart from the rest of the pack.
The brake inspection process is a perfect example. It can be easy to skip the pretest drive, forget to do an under-hood check, or pull only 2 or 3 wheels without pulling the calipers. Many mechanics do this because they think that by taking these and other shortcuts it will help the shop’s busy volume. While id does help reduce “dead” bay time the comebacks caused by these shortcuts end up costing the technician both in credibility and financial success.The few extra minutes it takes to turn an incomplete inspection into a complete one pays big dividends. By taking the time to do this, you gain more legitimate profit per job and less unproductive bay time. Here are some real life examples of how shortcuts cost money:
The image on the right shows what a shop found when they went to bleed a system out. After selling $600 worth of wheel based brake work they found this. The problem? They never opened the hood until after the work was completed. The system had been contaminated with power steering fluid and required an additional $800! Imagine being in the manager’s shoes telling the customer what happened, it would be embarrassing. It is important to ask yourself wether or not the time saved on any given “corner cut” is worth it? The answer to that question will almost alway be “no.”
The two seized wheel cylinders on the left were found on a customers third visit. The customer stopped by each time for the same issue, warranty of the loaded calipers. The front brake pads on the vehicle only lasted only 2,000 miles. On the third set of calipers, the shop finally took the time to do it right. After checking if the wheel cylinder pistons were actually moving, they quickly found the problem. This vehicle should be braking with a 60/40 front to rear split but because of the seized wheel cylinders it had zero rear braking. The braking balance on this vehicle was 100/0!
Premature pad wear
Premature pad wear, over heating, drag and brake noise can all be related to proper caliper function. Even with this correlation, many shops don’t check the function of the caliper during the inspection. Very few shops ever take time to pull a caliper during the inspection. Not doing so can lead to missing both pad and caliper related conditions. The image below shows some of what can be missed by NOT pulling the caliper.
Failure to pull calipers will cost the shop the brake job in many cases. The friction and caliper will look good on the outside but have hidden problems. Either the shop will give them a clean bill of health and miss the sale or it could raise costs after the job is sold. If the shop sells based on the outside inspection and then finds other needs after the job is started it can get pretty ugly going back to the customer with additional costs.
A good technician should be able to perform a complete 4-wheel inspection on a typical vehicle in 15 to 25 minutes without missing anything. This is about 10 minutes more than what is being spent currently in most shops. That extra 10 minutes will work for you or against you depending on how you use it. The additional time spent to do a thorough inspection, should yield happier and safer customers because you are going to find things you may not have found otherwise.