For years, I went to the local Jiffy Lube for oil changes. When the shop changed hands under a lesser-known brand, I was greeted by the new owner. He told me that he was an expert in automotive glass. After a courtesy inspection of my car, he came back with bad news.
Those microscopic chips in my windshield (I had never noticed them) were a sure sign of future trouble. Let me fix them for a bargain price of $25, he said, and you'll be spared a big bill down the road when those little defects turn into dangerous, long cracks.
I said no, thanks.
I bring this up in light of a lament I heard from a veteran fixed ops director a few months ago. He said there's a lot of (corporate) pressure out there to hit numbers. And customers are helping to reach those targets by paying for unnecessary repairs.
"It's just nice to sell people what they need from time to time," he said.
Dave Wright would echo that. He's the fixed ops director at Shaheen Chevrolet, a few miles south of Michigan's Capitol in Lansing. He has spent nearly two decades at Shaheen, with more than 10 years in Florida with some AutoNation stores sandwiched in between.
He jokes about his PHD ("papa had dealership") pedigree. Now, at 59, his thesis on pleasing customers, shaped by a lifetime in and around dealerships, is being put to its biggest test.
It's in the form of a new, $2.2 million, eight-bay fast lube and tire center across the parking lot from Shaheen's traditional service department, the one that used to struggle to do an oil change in less than two hours.
Two million dollars is a lot of money for an operation that isn't seen as a moneymaker.