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Unread 03-02-2013, 12:50 PM
master's Avatar
master master is offline
Walk Behind Mower
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Posts: 22
Default Equipment Deposits

We charge a non-refundable deposit on most equipment to cover our time to look at the equipment. I was just wondering if any other dealers do this? we have had a few customer complain about it when they choose not to fix the equipment. Can anyone shed some thoughts on this.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 01:01 AM
GWB2006 GWB2006 is offline
Grand Master PPEC Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: nowhere
Posts: 1,483

$35 handheld and walk mowers, $60 riders and "big" stuff.. My tech doesn't work for free, if he spends 20 minutes going through and diagnosing something you said ran fine a few days ago but has stale gas and water in it and the chain on backwards, you can bet your a$$ you're paying me for his time if you decide it's not worth $50 for you and you are not a regular , very regular customer.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 02:02 PM
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grouch grouch is offline
Grand Master PPEC Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 1,620

My experience was that most people hated paying anything up front, and most would go somewhere that didn't charge a drop off fee. Personally I think it completely justified, but another shop nearby didn't charge one so I couldn't when I was in business. Therefore, equipment got a very quick look-see. If they wanted a detailed estimate, I did charge up front for that - non refundable.
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Unread 03-05-2013, 10:07 AM
John Matthews John Matthews is offline
Rear Engine Rider
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Michigan
Posts: 131

We charge a $35 bench fee during the summer months when we have a lot of cottage owners bringing us stuff. Not so much in the winter but it's always at my discretion weather or not to charge it.

I simply explain that the fee gives me 1/2 hr to work on their unit and it goes towards the repair, if it only takes 15 minutes I give them a refund. I also try to do a quick once over on most things to verify what they're telling me and document anything they didn't mention. The vast majority of items I have trouble with are box store weedwhips and blowers so it's pretty easy to explain why I'm not willing to have my tech put an hour of labor into an item that costs $75. I'm always happy to sell them a new higher quality unit that won't break after one season.

When things get really busy I just charge the fee to everyone walking through the door and if they don't want to pay it I'm happy to sell them the parts so they can do the repair themselves. I don't have any problem telling folks that if it's not worth $35 to them it sure isn't worth it to me. If they've ever worked in their lives they should understand this and if they don't I'm happy to refer them to my competition.

I've found the policy actually helps with whole goods sales since many times the questionable item has been to several shops, or they bought it at a garage sale or it was given to them free. Once they think about it they realize it's just not worth hassling with something that isn't worth repairing.

Another trap I try to avoid is the customer that wants to tell me how to repair their equipment. If they know how to fix it I'll gladly sell them the parts but when they start to dictate how it's going to be fixed and how much they'll pay I get real specific on what services I offer. It really doesn't matter to me if they know a guy down the road that can fix it for half as much, if it comes out of my shop I want to be sure it's fixed right and that means I'm getting paid for knowing how to do the job....

Having a couple of visual aids isn't a bad idea either. Showing your customer a gummed up carb bowl can help them to understand why you need to replace rather than rebuild their carb. Have a good explanation of failed crank seals on a 2 cycle so you can tell them why replacing the carb won't fix it when it runs for 3 minutes and quits. Remember, you're the expert and if they're coming to you they deserve to be told the truth. If you look at it and can see it's not worth fixing tell them that right up front, I get lots of scrap metal to recycle by evaluating stuff as soon as a customer unloads it. Some people just need to be told it's worn out so they don't feel wasteful buying a new one.

So, this is probably more info than you asked for but thinking this stuff through before you get busy will save you a lot of time and more importantly keep your reputation good. Everyone knows they "just don't make 'em like they used to" so it's understandable that people want their old equipment fixed. But it really doesn't matter if something is 2 years old or 50, I can only repair it in my shop if I can make money doing it and my customer will be happy with the results. Having a clear policy that's posted at the repair counter will make your shop more efficient and keep your customers satisfied in the long run. Just make sure you, or your counter staff are willing to listen and can make adjustments to the policy as you/they see fit.

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