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Doing a "Quick" Little job

A Lesson About Doing Quick Repairs

Here is a lesson about doing a quick job for a client. No Matter how small, don't fix it immediately right in front of a cient. If the client sees that it only takes you a couple minutes, he won't want to pay you much for your skill. Here is an example of how I made that mistake and was reminded of this principle again.

My Initial Assessment

Recently a guy called me about possibly getting a car seat repaired. I normally don't work or car seats and didn't know if I could do it, but told him that I would look at it. Later on he carried the car seat into my shop. I had him bring it back into my shop and put it on the table. He showed me that the bottom edge of the seat was coming loose and wanted to know if I could fix it.

As I looked at the bottom of the seat I saw that it had a plastic fastening strip around the bottom edge of the vinyl cover. The plastic strip had come out of the track that it fits into. It was similar to a repair that I had one on our own van this last year.

My Mistake: I fixed it in front of the client

So I just put it on top of the table, climbed up on it. I put my weight on it to compress the seat enough to flip the fastening strip back in place. As the guy watched me and saw what I was doing he also started to help twist it back in place. All told it only took a couple minutes to fix the seat.

Another Mistake: My Hesitation about stating a price

He asked me how much he owed me.  My first thought was not to charge him anything because it didn't take much time. Then, I thought I'd just ask him what he thought it was worth. He didn't want to say. Then I thought I'd ask Emmy, so I went into the car to ask her while he carried the seat back out to his truck. I asked Emmy what she thought. She didn't quite know, but then I thought I ought to charge his twenty five dollars, but as I went back out I back off and thought maybe I'd only charge him twenty.

The Client's Response:

When he came back in I asked him what he thought about twenty dollars. He said that he thought it was out of line. It was way too much for only a couple minutes work. I was taken aback by his response and hesitated and felt embarrassed. He opened his wallet and found he only had nine dollars in it. He was about to go out to his truck and get some more money from his wife. However, I told him that I would take the nine dollars, which I did.

My Assessment of my Mistakes

As he left I'm sure that he thought that I was trying to overcharge him. After he left I realized that I had made several large mistakes on this job. For one, I hadn't given him a price up front. I also remembered that I didn't have my labor price rate poster posted, I promptly went into the computer, printed out several copies of the poster and taped it up around the shop.

Some of the other mistakes I made is to fix it right there in front of him. I should have sent him away and let him come back later.  Another mistake I made is I stumbled around with giving him a price. I didn't value my skilled services and I displayed my lack of self-value to him, and he ran with it. Because I had not given him a price up front and he saw how quickly I fixed it and I acted very insecure (non-professional) about hesitating in  giving him a price, he jumped right on that. He also didn't value my services.

A Professional is Worth His Wages

The thing I need to remember is that I fixed it so quickly because of my skill. I am a professional and am worthy of my wages. You couldn't go into any doctor's office, or auto repair shop, or other professional place and expect to only pay them nine dollars.
In looking back at it, my service was (or should have been) worth a lot to him. I put a seat back together that was falling apart. If I had of handled it correctly I should have charged him based upon what the job was worth, not on how long it took me. I knew how to fix it, he didn't. That is why he brought it to me.
In addition, I have lost a potential customer. I'm angry at him and don't want to do any more work for him. But really, I'm angry at myself for caving on the price and not handling it correctly.

Now, here is the justification for charging him for my services.

  1. He only came to me because he saw my advertising. I had to pay money to get him to come to me.
  2. I took time out to answer his phone call.
  3. When he came in I got to his job right away.
  4. The reason he came to me in the first place is because he couldn't fix it.
  5. The reason I could fix it so quickly is because of my many years of experience. It was an "easy" job because I knew how to fix it. Easy means you know how to do it.
  6. It costs money to pay for my shop space and to pay for the utilities for heat, lights, and tools.
  7. I have a lot of money invested in my tools that are there waiting for jobs.
  8. I can only be there to do repairs if I'm paid for my services.
  9. Whenever I do a job, even a little job, I have to make out the paperwork and enter the bookkeeping for it. This takes either my time or my wife's time. That times needs to be paid for.