PART One: Think about what kind of a mechanic you want
Good auto repair mechanics expend large amounts of effort, time, and money so they are able to repair your car. They spend thousands for tool and their tool box which can be an indicator of their commitment to the industry of automotive repair. What is real important is the professionalism and respect for you as their customer. The first step is for you to develop a short list of what it is that you are looking for in an automotive repair mechanic and to be proactive. Do not wait until your car is broken down to find a car mechanic you can trust. Identify those shops closest to your home or where you work. Pull up their web sites and ask others about them. Eventually someone may actually offer you a recommendation of whom they trust.
Automotive mechanics generally started their career by attending a vocational type of school to get their career started. Upon graduation from the vocational school their first job often is at the large national chain stores, where you generally get charged the highest rates. How does that work; the newest mechanics and the highest charge? The family and independently owned neighborhood type repair shop will generally hire car mechanics after they have gained experience on the job. Why you might ask? Generally their clients are long term customers and friends, whom the shops want to treat fairly and professionally.
PART Two: The Good Car Mechanic Referral
The car mechanic for you is the technician referred to you by a satisfied automotive repair customer that you happen to know at home, work, school, or church. This technician will explain why and what they are recommending be repaired on your car, without scare tactics. This referral issue is called, “word of mouth” by many. In today’s hectic world, word of mouth has become less attractive and viewed as too slow. The internet searches have become more the norm done at the last minute. I believe that we do not need to invent something new; “Word of Mouth”, does work; but requires effort on you part before your car fails. Others have experimented and found a good car mechanic already for you. You just need to ask and listen. But what can you do, if you don’t have a mechanic referral available to you?
PART Three: Get an honest second opinion
If you have another repair shop recommending repairs, find a second opinion regarding your first repair recommendations regarding price, procedure and timing of that recommendation. Most people wouldn’t remodel their kitchen without getting competitive bids from multiple contractors, so it should be the same with major automotive repairs. Most shops and technicians are honest, but sometimes company policies get in the way of presenting or communicating to you about the most reasonable repair possible.
PART Four: You are having car trouble and looking for a car mechanic or repair shop to call.
Be ready to articulate what trouble you are having. Example; “the car turns over, but will not fire at all; it ran when I parked it last night”. I have received calls from stranded potential customers asking how much to replace their battery or starter when having the above problem. I explain that the chances of the car needing a battery or starter are slim. That the car needs to be towed in and that the diagnostic charge will be between zero and $60.00 dollars. I then give them a price for starter replacement anyway, so they have a comparison to the other shops they are calling. I also explain what some of the possible causes might be that are causing their car trouble. I further offer that if they don’t have towing insurance, I will make arrangements with a towing company, offer a significant discount, and will put the tow bill on the their repair order here at Clark automotive Clinic.
Find a shop that does not charge a diagnostic charge for opinions offered on the drive way and provide free estimates for recommended repairs. Once the car is in the shop the recommended repair is confirmed, before the repair is affected. If the parking lot diagnostics proves to be incorrect and further diagnostics or it is obvious that a different repair is required you are called to confirm what is happening, why, and the review of any cost changes. You need to resist the temptation to ask for a specific repair procedure, unless you’re absolutely sure that is what is required. The reason is that an incompetent or dishonest shop will affect the requested repair and then call you with what really needs to be fixed.
PART Five: Why not to get free safety inspections or cheap oil changes:
These are tools used by repair shops to get your car in the shop and sell you repairs you may or may not need. You need to be prepared to say no, and review what your actions should be. You are still in your car and in charge. It is a more honest and efficient way to address your observations about what you see, hear, and feel may be wrong with your car. The questions you may have about your car will be answered honestly and with a high level of professionalism. We have observed times when the shop doing the free inspection cannot be trusted to reassemble your car, if you don’t do the recommended repairs.
Why choose Clark Automotive Clinic?
We at Clark Automotive Clinic strive to take care of our loyal repeat customers. The mechanic at the large national chain won’t ever see you or your car again, but the local small repair shop will see you as a repeat customer often, and wants you pleased.
If you don’t have that car mechanic referral from an acquaintance, then the google bar on your phone or computer can be your friend. That is why I, Chuck Clark, am taking the time to write this blog today. I’m that honest car mechanic you need in the Blaine, Minnesota area. My shop has been around for over 17 years, with an established return customer clientele. I have never upsold a customer and will always offer you a well-considered opinion about your car’s state of repair. I do have a short term problem though. Recently many customers have purchased new cars, thus I will not see them for some time. So; I have time available and have identified a need to use google myself. My name is Chuck Clark and I have time to meet you and take care of your car!
As stated earlier I have owned this shop for 17 years, purchasing it from a friend, Mr. Al Watts. He operated it as high performance Chrysler repair shop for many years. I was at that time a U.S. Army Officer working with the Minnesota Army National Guard. I retired with 34 years of service in 2002. I’ve had many other careers; College student, Union Iron worker, Semi-professional drag car owner, Collector of 1960’s high performance Dodge muscle cars, A High School and Vocational Automotive instructor, Industrial Sales Management for diesel engine companies, and finally an automotive wholesaler and dealer. You may note I never said I was a car mechanic. That is because I have always been one. In all of my careers I have worked with mechanics, trained mechanics, and or supervised mechanics. If you call Clark Automotive clinic, you will be talking to me about what is ailing your car.
I am a retired military veteran. I offer military discounts as well as new customer discounts. Once you know me you won’t need to be concerned about what is really going on with your car, I will have explained it. I will be your honest and fair mechanic. Again, this is my first endeavor into advertising, as I’m now in a position to add some new customers. The temporary loss of old customers and friends due to new car purchases has been dramatic, causing me to build this new Web Site and start blogging.
Well as I sit here working on this blog my office looks like heck. I have not had time to clean it for months, but what the heck the shop is clean and ready for the next job. This is no show place, just a good old fashioned local car repair shop. My goal is to offer great service, quality repairs, at a reasonable cost. Our shop has been at the same location for over 24 years. It is not a great location and is hard to find, but has never been a problem, because of our regular customers. This has kept our overhead low and allowed us to be a very competitively priced yet a quality car repair shop. Clark Automotive Clinic does not have a fancy waiting room. I don’t have a waiting room, because frankly I do most things by appointment, so that I can personally serve you best. We do have a stool for you by the front door, but frankly would rather borrow you a free loaner car or give you a ride home, or to work. We do offer free loaner cars if it helps organize our day, yours and mine.
Our listed labor rate is very competitive. Clark Automotive Clinic does not advertise lost leaders, $20.00 oil changes, to get you into the shop, and upsell you on car repairs. We do not offer free inspection to get your car in the shop and sell you repairs. We are not on a high traffic corner with a tow truck, looking for cars that need to be towed in. We have only had one letter of complaint sent to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in 17 years, which was satisfactorily resolved. We have never been called into small claims court; we have resolved any issue together with our customers. We take good care of your car; we have only had to paint one fender in 17 years. We are generally too busy for customers just to drive in, but will make arrangements for a later arrival that day and stay late to get all the diagnostics, estimates and loaner cars arranged. We do not push maintenance items, but rather review the car manufacturer’s recommendations, highlighting upcoming procedures that you might need to consider. We research specific factory service bulletins relative to the issues the customer is asking us to resolve. We have the factory specifications, maintenance and repair procedures, and troubleshooting graphs and electrical schematics available. We appreciate when customers ask questions, if our explanation is not getting enough information clearly communicated to you the customer. We will always prioritize repairs, and categorize them regarding safety, causing further damage or as deferrable so that the customer can decide which repairs to authorize.
Once you are my customer and I’m your mechanic, I will work very hard to maintain your trust. I will have test driven your car weeks ago and went over needed repairs and prioritized them by safety and or costs. Because we have been honest with each other, your car most likely will not break down, leaving you stranded somewhere. So what I offer is fair and professional information regarding repairs that you are considering for your car. My goal is to fix your car correctly the first visit. I aim to have great customer service at Clark Automotive; that is reasonably priced and extended to you in such a manner that you will become a repeat customer. I understand that many car repairs end up being unplanned events, so I will work closely with you, getting pending car repairs into your budget, the goal being, “No Surprises”.
I have equipped the shop to service your Domestic and Asian vehicles effectively and as reasonable as possible. I have also decided not to make the same claim about the repair of European cars due to lack of reference material, low levels of experience, and parts availability. When it makes fiscal or procedural sense to use other companies to affect the repair of your vehicle, I will coordinate that for and with you. I coordinate with numerous outside diagnostic companies to assist in the effectively repair of your car. These companies allow me to increase the efficiency of how my shop repairs your car, and keeps the bill reasonable. To the degree possible I strive to offer you one stop shopping, whether it’s a new windshield, a new front bumper, or new tires.
I did type into the google search block, “An honest car mechanic”. Found an article written by an attorney about how to coordinate your car repairs with an honest car mechanic. The strongest point of his article was to get everything in writing. I don’t disagree, when you are dealing with a new mechanic, or car repair shop you know nothing about. It will be my goal at Clark Automotive Clinic to work with you as a new customer so effectively, so fair, communicating at every decision point that as you become a regular customer we can accomplish most negotiations over the phone. Frankly I have not had a customer sign a repair order before repairs were started in over 10,000 repair orders. I trust my customers as well as they trust me. This trust allows for simple convenience and efficiency of time.