Nissan Consult-III scan tool kit
Peugeot / Citroen PPO/Lexia scan tool kit
Now is what I want to try to see if this is going to work better for diagnostic time charges. I can think about many arguments pro et contra but unless I try I would not know for sure how this is going to work. There are two steps:
One. In order to provide better value for most customers I need to keep my overheads low. In this case I can charge less per hour and customer gets more results for the money spent on diagnostics. To achieve this target I should not be trying to be able fix each and every problem on any vehicle.
I’d love to be able to fix anything and never have to tell my customer “sorry, but it looks like I won’t be able to help you here”.. Unfortunately, to do this I’d have to invest in huge pile of equipment (like an OEM scan tool for every make similar to one shown abowe and many other pieces of manufacturer approved and specific equipment) and pay charges for numerous subscriptions for use of software, access to technical information, training, hotline help and so on. Then I’ll have no choice but to charge customers more in order to cover these costs. Not even mention the fact that I physically wouldn’t have enough time to support all this alone and process all the information even if I’d have millions of dollars to spend and hundreds of years to live and work. I would have to hire people to help me, get bigger shop and office to accommodate all those people and provide storage for equipment. Then I’ll have to get in as many customers as I can, so I would need even bigger shop, big parking lot and more money spent on advertising because my prices would no longer be low.
I think I’ll be satisfied if I could solve 90 – 95% of problems by using limited resources while providing significantly lower cost. This would cause inconvenience for some, but would make my services more affordable for most.
Two. I am going to implement hybrid diagnostic charge structure with fixed charge for initial diagnostics and assessment and hourly charge for the rest of diagnostic process. This is how I make sure that customer gets a valuable result for the money spent on diagnostic time.
Fixed charge is equivalent to 0.5 – 1.0 hour pay plus technical information access fee (where applicable). Some simple things could be diagnosed very quickly, like “connect scanner – read code – check some sensor connector and find its loose, corroded or has a broken wire”. Other concerns would require a test drive, test with scan tool, and access to specific technical information sources only to narrow down directions of further diagnostic process and get a rough idea on diagnostic time requirements and repair costs. I consider this initial assessment as valuable diagnostic result as it narrows down possibilities and gives an idea about involved costs. Therefore I would charge this fixed charge for every concern. I am not willing to share my expertise for free, sorry.
After this initial assessment I would advise customer on diagnostic and repair costs that might be involved to fix his concern. If customer considers its worth to pay these costs I would proceed with further diagnostic time spending as much time as needed to find a problem. The advantage for customer is that by the time when diagnostic process is completed and total cost of repair could be quoted there is no obligation to pay for that time unless customer decides to proceed with repair and / or is willing to get the result of diagnostic process. If total cost of repair or diagnostic time alone considered as excessive by customer I do not apply diagnostic charges but do not share the results of my diagnostics either. If customer is OK with the cost, I proceed with repair, verify it fixes the concern, charge customer for the total cost of repair plus diagnostics and provide the report on what was the cause of concern and what was done to fix it.
In this case I am motivated to complete diagnostics as quick as I can – more time I spend on it, harder it gets to sell it to the customer. I guarantee that results of my diagnostics process are correct as I perform the repair and can only get paid if repair is successful. I am taking a risk investing my time in diagnosing a problem without guarantee of being paid for that but I do not share the result of diagnostic process if customer is not willing to pay for that. This result might be useful for me at later stage. Even the same customer who declined charges today might come back later willing to pay :-). If not, experience acquired in this case would help me to do more efficient diagnostics in future while customer pays nothing but gets nothing either.
Seems legit and honest to me. I do not expect everyone to agree with this. I’ll see how its going to work and if not – I would have to come up with better business model.