July 09, 2010

The Future of Car Mechanics

Wow. Having air-conditioning in your car is amazingly different than not having it.

Let's backtrack a year and a half to when my A/C first went out. I took the car to my local mechanic and received a $1300 quote for the repair. I sadly sad no and drove home in the heat. It just wasn't worth it to us when we were financially nervous as it was. And I've been sweating in the summers ever since.

6 months ago, my power steering started going on the fritz as well. Drove back to the same mechanic and received a $1500 quote for the repair. I sadly drove home, thinking that it might make more financial sense to simply trade the car in. I told my friend (a real man) about the quote, and he told me that number didn't sound at all right for what was wrong with the car. So, I went to a local Tuffy's nearby that I had heard great things about. Got the power steering fixed for less than 1/3 of my other mechanic's quote.

I was floored. I didn't know that a commodity field like basic car repair would still have such outrageous price discrepancies. It was pure ignorance on my part. And so I started wondering if my old mechanic had been lying about my A/C fix as well. So, I brought it in to Tuffy's last week and got it fixed for $800 less than my old mechanic quoted me.

These are two completely different business models. In my old mechanic's head, he only needs 1/3 the amount of customers as long as they pay 3 times as much. And it's an easier work day.

The other business model makes a much smaller profit on each customer, but due to price popularity, he's continually overwhelmed.

The problem is that the first model relies solely on consumer ignorance. And while there will always be some. It's not something to build a business around. Because when guys like me wise up, they instantly leave, and they're outraged.