One of my clients sent me this email to me today and gave me permission to reprint it.
"I was in a hurry before a meeting yesterday but realised I had forgotten to book my car in for a service for when I am in....... on Wednesday.
I rang..... and made a booking. After giving the rego the service guy told me (even though I knew) that a 40,000 service was due. We agreed date and time and he went on to say it was a major service. I said no worries, thanks, goodbye.
The conversation then went along these lines;
"But Sir, I want to give you a price for this" "She'll be right mate, I will see you in the morning" "OK, but I want to tell you that the service will cost you around $550 to $600" After gulping and thinking to myself, 'struth', I thanked him very much for letting me know. Certainly beats finding out when picking up the keys tomorrow afternoon. You may ask, So what?
This is an industry that John and his colleagues have continually used as an example when trying to convince lawyers to pull up their socks on pricing. Only months ago this idea of pricing at a car dealer (voluntarily so without request) would have been foreign yet he was clear and polite throughout. If they can change, so can we."
You would think so wouldn't you? Maybe but surely pricing the servicing of a car is much easier than pricing legal work is it not? Why? Well because mechanics work on these sorts of cars and their problems all the time so they know pretty much what their costs are and what their price is. However everything we do for our clients is new and different and we have no idea what our costs to serve are and therefore we cannot possibly price our services up front. Well guess what? 90% plus of the time we have done what we do before (or at least our clients hope we have) and we do know our "costs" to serve. I bet too if they had have opened my clients bonnet and found the radiator had a hole in it they would have rung him and told him this and then told him the new price to fix it just so he would not get a huge surprise when he picked the car up that afternoon.If lawyers were running car workshop I think we would not have rung the customer, just done the work,charge for it by the hour and present the customer the bill when they picked up the car.
I think mechanics are taught pricing communication pretty early on during their apprenticeships. Otherwise it is commonly known as commercial business sense. Some might even venture to say it is just common sense or common courtesy.
Question: Is it just co incidental that mechanics mostly have disputes (when they do) with their customers over technical quality but rarely price, while lawyer complaints are mostly over price, not technical quality?