Hotrod & Restoration

January/February '13

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n n n n INTERIOR INSIGHTS Fixing Someone Else's Work By Harry Weimann A s a trim shop owner for many years, fixing someone else's work was not always an easy task. I had many customers come to me unhappy with the upholstery work they had received from another shop. Being understanding of their situation was important to gaining their confidence in my ability to help them. Let me give you a few helpful hints on what needs to transpire between you and the customer prior to doing any work. First thing, again, is to hear the customer out; find out their concern and what they are asking of you. Once this is determined, you need to evaluate the job and explain to the customer what you suggest to repair the work with which they are dissatisfied. This explanation can either be a very easy fix or very difficult. Many times you will not be able to evaluate what you need to do until the work is taken apart and you see what the problem is and how to repair it. So many times, you will not be able to tell the customer the cost until you already start the job. You must build rapport to enable the customer to trust you enough to start the job so you can see the scope of the work in order to accurately bid the job. One thing is for sure: you don't want the customer putting the blame for a poor job on you. A few tips to help you with this: • Document what you find, and if possible, take pictures so you can show the customer. • If the customer can come and see the problem first hand, that is the best solution in helping them understand what you need to do to repair the problem. • Don't paint yourself into a corner by throwing out a price before you know what needs to be done. This is a mistake I have made in the past and I ended up not getting paid for all the work I did. Estimating how much it will cost can be very difficult when fixing someone else's mistakes. • It is very important that you disclose to the customer your billing procedures. Remember, they are already unhappy with the previous work before they came to you. When I had to fix someone else's work I made it a point to never give the customer an estimate, but charged the customer for time and materials. • Every job, regardless of what it was, had a work order generated. I would go over the work to be performed with the customer, write it on the work order, have the customer sign it, and give them a copy. One very important reason I developed this work order procedure was so the customer understood completely the work that was required to complete the job. On the bottom of the work order it also had our shop's policy on billing and material charges. • I also included a warranty disclaimer explaining the shop's warranty terms. I warrantied all labor for 30 days but I did not war54 ranty materials unless a warranty was given by the manufacturer of the material such as in the case of convertible tops. • Another thing that must be addressed is what happens if you get into the job and you just cannot repair the problem without purchasing additional parts. An example of this could be a broken seat frame or convertible top frame that needs to be replaced. My suggestion is that, as part of the work order, you also include in the disclaimer that the customer is responsible for any additional cost for broken parts not known before the work was performed. With that said, never do additional work or purchase additional parts other than what was discussed on the work order without the customer's consent. Contact the customer and let them know what the additional cost will be and get the customer's consent to do the additional work or buy the additional parts. Make sure that you document the customer's approval on the work order. Mark the time and day on the work order, documenting that the customer gave their approval. • Make sure that all timelines and deadlines for project completion are discussed and communicated with the customer and that you documented them on the work order. Some of the problems that the customer might have had with the previous shop might have been not only with the shop's craftsmanship but also with taking too long to complete the job. It is your job to make the customer happy, so if you promise a time or date it is important to meet that deadline. Remember in a previous article I wrote that I'm always trying to make a customer for life. Never over-charge the customer because you are repairing someone else's mistake. I'm not suggesting that you don't charge what the job is worth, but be fair. Remember, the best advertising you have is from a happy customer. If the customer feels that they were over charged, they will be the first to tell their friends. That's why I feel that it so important that you take the time to sit down with the customer and make them feel comfortable. Don't be in a hurry. Go over the work order with the customer, make sure they understand what you are doing to fix their problem and that they understand your policies. When the job is complete, go over the work that was performed with the customer and make sure that it meets their expectation. The goal again is a happy customer, and for good measure, send them a "thank you" note for their business. It will surely make an impact! Harry Weimann is the director of education at WyoTech Blairsville in Blairsville, Pa. He has been in he trim industry since 1980 and has owned Weimann's Interiors in Delmont, Pa., with his wife since 1986. He can be reached at HRR Hotrod & Restoration January/February 2013 HRR_Jan/Feb13_Pages1-63.indd 54 1/24/13 2:27 PM

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