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An interesting question from Hartech

T8

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In a recent thread Grant (from Hartech) asked for feedback about a topic that has become 'a thing' recently. I thought it worthwhile starting a new thread to get feedback from a wider audience.

bazhart said:
I'd like to ask for a bit of feedback.

Photographs and additional requests by customers have become an interesting subject. Occasionally we are asked to take pictures of work which we try to accommodate. This alone can be disruptive when a technician is following his ingrained working practise – he may be 'in the groove" working smoothly & methodically, concentrating on the detail of his work but then has to stop, clean his hands, get the camera, take the photo then pick up from where he left off. But we try to slot in.

However, occasional requests are now turning into expectations which has moved onto some customers wanting step by step pictures sent almost daily during the work, then a nice leather binder with them printed out, UBS sticks, videos, certificates of work, daily updates, etc. We even recently had a request for a customer to be present for the first start-up of his engine and all testing to be undertaken by him.

So, it would be interesting to hear people's valued feedback so we can try to accommodate as many peoples desires as possible but within a realistic frame-work......

It's easy to say 'that's customer service" but, bearing in mind the backdrop of rising costs & potentially diminishing customer budgets in these modern times, what are the answers ?

Do we say no to everything ? Do we say yes to everything ? Do we be selective which will please some people and not others ? Do we offer a dual pricing structure ? Do we add a figure to each job to replace all the unnecessary clips & fixings ? Do we start changing things which aren't necessary ? Do we compile an options list of every nicety available which customers can choose from (which will increase admin costs etc. processing) ?

Do we be awkward and respond with clever comments like 'do you expect a surgeon to keep stopping his work to take pictures or would you rather he concentrate on his job ?" etc. (Tongue in cheek !!!).

We've tried compiling library pictures of the process but that wasn't well received as customers wanted pictures of their own actual parts.

At any one time we usually have around 30 jobs underway – we could employ an extra person who's role is purely to accommodate these requests. We could reduce the number of jobs we undertake to free up an existing member of staffs time to carry this out. But all this will add to the costs per job which goes against our first principles (and probably most customers).

What do you think guys ??

Grant
 
Its basic business practice to look to offer 'added value" and product differentiators.

You are in the enviable position I think as already having a reputation for both quality and customer service, to some extent that is already reflected in the price of your work in its simplist form (I won't get into quality / price as I don't think it's relevant to this point eg pay cheap pay twice etc....).....the point being at that end of the market the difference between expectation of what is included and what is added value / service can become more blurred. That usually needs to be defined in the pricing and products / services offered, typically in the form of a 'menu". I think you already do that with your core business ie the actual engineering side but now you probably need to consider what other none engineering products / services you can offer as 'added value" to segregate it them from undefined customer service included within your normal business. That usually means understanding what products services / products you can add. Again you have a head start on that based on what your customers are already asking for rather than having to think from scratch eg full photographic binder for different main engineering jobs. cost up each one for time / material costs and a profit margin (you are not a charity but you may decide to use some products more as market differentiators than profit generators by themselves) and add them as a product/service to your menu. Once that product has a defined price you can look to included it into some 'packages" ie various menu items ordered together at a discount etc... etc....

There is nothing unusual in what you are now exploring, its a sign of a thriving business :wink: .....there are consultants out there who will charge you to work with you on this but if you have the time / energy its something you can do yourself. If not look to get someone to help you, the cost will pay for itself in doing it quicker / better. The biggest barrier to most business not reaching their potential is not asking for help even if thats at a cost initially :thumb:
 
As I said in the other thread -

Have a look at Retropower and the service they provide. There's YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook, photos and videos. That's my idea of the gold standard.

It's a job in itself. Their YouTube income and the merchandise they sell probably cover it.

The baseline is probably main dealer level, where they send me a video shot by the technician and give me a few minutes of measuring the tyre depth and brake pad thickness.
 
If you're the owner of a £20k car and paying £7k or £8k for an engine rebuild, that's a significant investment and money you probably won't get back. I don't think it's unreasonable for the owner to request some updates on progress, including photos.

If I was buying a car that has been advertised as having had a rebuild, photos of the work being completed, along with the invoices would also give me confidence and would add weight to any decision.

You could offer update packages to potential customers for a fee.. E.g. Silver package is stock photos, email update at various stages and a certificate at the end. Gold could be photos at key stages sent via whats app, text updates, certificates. Platinum could be videos, step by step guides etc. Each package could be offered to the customer as optional add on so will be client's choice. You would be paid for the additional services and the communication expectations are set in advance so everyone knows where they stand.
 
I think you have two options, do nothing, no everything. Or embrace the new world of social media driven business and provide video updates, a YouTube channel, etc etc. The first option will probably mean an eventual contraction of business, but you have an enviable reputation, so you may have enough of a customer base to see you out. The second option imo means employing someone to take care of the media side. There's no point trying to get engineers to try to take it on, it would be most disruptive and while they may the ace of the base at engineering, most likely their camera skills and editing would do you a disservice. The up side is, that done properly you could end up making money out of social media than rebuilding engines.
 
nigel99 said:
If you're the owner of a £20k car and paying £7k or £8k for an engine rebuild, that's a significant investment and money you probably won't get back. I don't think it's unreasonable for the owner to request some updates on progress, including photos.

If I was buying a car that has been advertised as having had a rebuild, photos of the work being completed, along with the invoices would also give me confidence and would add weight to any decision.

You could offer update packages to potential customers for a fee.. E.g. Silver package is stock photos, email update at various stages and a certificate at the end. Gold could be photos at key stages sent via whats app, text updates, certificates. Platinum could be videos, step by step guides etc. Each package could be offered to the customer as optional add on so will be client's choice. You would be paid for the additional services and the communication expectations are set in advance so everyone knows where they stand.

Which of course begs the question, what would you be prepared to to pay for the Platinum package you've outlined ?
 
I'm actually going through an engine rebuild on my 944 S2. The garage has had the car for 2 months. He sends me intermittent photos but I leave it to him. The key thing for me would be the invoice stating what was done and what parts were replaced.

I don't know how long a Hartech engine rebuild will take or their rates, but say it was 5 weeks and you wanted complete updates I would think that 30 mins per week would cover this. So assuming £100 an hour then 5 x 30mins = £250. On a £7k bill, seems reasonable to me
 
A mate of mine was previously a car journalist and photographer working for several car magazines touring the country writing about people's projects and car shows etc

A few years ago he took a job for a well known engine builder and tuning company. Apparently his job is a marketing and social media manager. I guess this is the sort of stuff he does when he videos customer builds and puts them in their social media platforms

It must pay dividends for the company as he is still there many years later. If it didn't work he wouldn't still be there

Personally I'm not bothered with pics the receipt is all I need

Winny
 
nigel99 said:
If you're the owner of a £20k car and paying £7k or £8k for an engine rebuild, that's a significant investment and money you probably won't get back. I don't think it's unreasonable for the owner to request some updates on progress, including photos.

If I was buying a car that has been advertised as having had a rebuild, photos of the work being completed, along with the invoices would also give me confidence and would add weight to any decision.

You could offer update packages to potential customers for a fee.. E.g. Silver package is stock photos, email update at various stages and a certificate at the end. Gold could be photos at key stages sent via whats app, text updates, certificates. Platinum could be videos, step by step guides etc. Each package could be offered to the customer as optional add on so will be client's choice. You would be paid for the additional services and the communication expectations are set in advance so everyone knows where they stand.

Well it's certainly an interesting perspective :)

If you find yourself knocking on Hartech's door, you've more than likely bought a car manufactured by a company who forged a reputation for engineering excellence, and promptly threw that reputation away by producing cars fitted with engines that rapidly, early in their life, proved to be horribly unreliable.

Not satisfied with having done that, they then introduced a second iteration of that very same car, with an engine that was equally unreliable.

But as if that weren't sufficient to show how contemptuous said company is of its customers, they went on to launch an all new model with exactly the same engine, which had exactly the same weaknesses as the two previous iterations.

Whilst they did this, they became the world's most profitable vehicle manufacturing company, though not, I hasten to add, by manufacturing cars (with chocolate engines)
As the Yanks would say, go figure.
Still, look on the bright side, at least they sorted the problem expeditiously, a mere 10 years later.

But this left a huge amount of cars, now worth considerably less than when new, and tarnished with a well justified reputation for presenting their owners with huge bills for replacement engines when they failed, because Porsche's 'goodwill" (LOL) had long since expired.

I struggle to believe in the age of the interwebz that many people have bought these cars over the last 10 years without being fully aware of the many and varied ways the M96/7 engines can and does fail, often catastrophically, and in doing do has left countless owners with eyewatering bills. Up until 5 years ago, those bills were often more than the cars themselves were worth.

Fortunately an enterprising individual ooop North (ish) in the UK, along with his son-in-law, took it upon themselves to establish just why these engines appeared to self destruct with such regular monotony.

I imagine they spent thousands of hours investigating the various design flaws, then designed and commissioned modified components, which they then tested to establish if they worked, if they were reliable and if they were sufficiently durable.

Having done so, they then go about the unenviable task of establishing the best, most efficient, most economical method of machining the original engine cases to enable them to fit their uprated, modified components.

My guess is all of the above cost many tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds in time, New machinery and new components, and I imagine took several years to to bring to fruition, most of them without any return whatsoever on their investment.

Once these enterprising individuals had established they could fix these engines in a cost effective manner, and make them reliable over many miles, I suspect by fitting them in their own cars and running them, and having clocked up a good few miles in them, removed them, stripped them, analysed them, and no doubt found issues and gone back to the drawing board to start the process all over again ... they eventually find that they've finally cracked all the problems.

Having done so, they start building engines for clients and in the process slowly gain a reputation for being THE company to rebuild the troublesome engines, to the degree that that a large percentage of the Porsche independents in the UK no longer even attempt to strip and rebuild them, instead they simply remove them, crate them up and send them to Baz and Grant, but it gets better, as I understand it, they now receive engines from all over Europe/the globe for their legendary rebuilds.

They had, after many years, hit the motherlode, and in doing so they gave the 996 and 997.1 a new lease of life, along with giving owners the opportunity to fix their cars cost effectively, with the added bonus that those once troublesome engines should now provide many miles of reliable motoring.

But wait, apparently that lifeline isn't enough now, because owners want, demand, or think they're entitled (now there's a word that's becoming all too common in today's society ...) to a daily progress report, photographic evidence and even certificates to prove that the magic that's has been performed on their engine's internals is indeed real and tangible.

Some of you will be aware of Jake Raby of FSi (Flat Six Innovations) in The States.
Jake, like Baz and Grant has found the secret sauce recipe that enables them all to build reliable M96/7 engines.

But Jake has developed the M96/7 platform further and produces even larger capacity engines which produce horsepower figures from this 'dog of an engine" (my words, and meant from an engineering perspective) that would have been thought impossible 15 years ago. They are 'reassuringly expensive".

So what do you do if you want one ?
Ring up FSi, or drop them an email saying you want a 4.3 litre 450hp engine built for your 997.1 S please ?

Well you could, but there'll be no guarantee you'll actually get one.
Why ? Because Mr Raby vets anyone asking him to build an engine for them, and if you don't fit his buyer profile, he simply won't build you an engine. Period.

Let's not force Baz and Grant to have to resort to vetting their potential clients. Instead, leave them to do what they do best, that being fix cars, not become media whores hellbent on indulging their entitled customers via social media platforms or getting bogged down sending updates/images to them on a daily basis.

We here in the UK are extremely fortunate that Baz and Grant have invested much blood, sweat, tears and money in addressing the problems inherent in the M96/7 engines, but ultimately they owe any customers having engines rebuilt, nothing. Their reputation is, from what I can see of the numerous reviews I've read over the years (and my conversation with Grant) peerless.

Quite frankly if you want VIP treatment, you expect to pay a VIP premium, just as you do at your local OPC ...
But from Baz's and Grant's perspective, what's the benefit of indulging needy customers wanting VIP treatment ?
I imagine their order books are full, I've not read a bad review of them or their work, why would they want to indulge the few, when the majority are happy with the service they provide ?
If they were a fledgling, unestablished business trying to gain a reputation, I could understand it. But they're not.
Their reputation and their invoice should provide all the reassurance required both to owners and for prospective purchasers of cars fitted with one of their rebuilt engines.

Discuss :grin:

Right, I'm peckish so I'll step down from my soapbox ...

:mrgreen:
 
It's a nonsense and don't encourage it. Most clients wouldn't have a clue what they're looking at anyway. Harlech doe's what it does through hard work on R&D and professional , backed up, execution. That's enough, it really is. The rest is vanity and owners trying a bit too hard to to shore up their resale values.

If I'm having some work done and I get sent a picture or two I like it and it's usually to make a point or help me understand why something needs doing. There's no way I would ask for it or expect it. Or pay extra for it!
 
An invoice detailing the works will do. Photos welcome but not necessary.
 
Tell the customer to get stuffed and go somewhere else if they want a blow by blow account of their engine build. You are not performing seals. If a customer wants an engine build by one of the best in the business they can pay the money and leave you to it. If you can do a few pics along the way, great. But only when you have a moment and it's convenient.

And a customer insisting he's there for first start up..... never going to happen




:grin:
 
interesting responses thank you - keep them coming.

I hope no one gets the impression we simply don't want to provide visual records - it's not that at all - but a question of prioritising costs and comparative pricing.

This is more important today because the Internet has provided an opportunity for businesses to promote their products on a "price comparison" basis that allows inferior products to seem better value and the additional profits generated by providing them allows more expensive marketing to sustain that relatively poorer product quality.

We have not only invested more than probably anyone else in the Wold - to provide the best "IN-HOUSE" engine remanufacturing provisions but also the highest quality technically (like the only "closed deck cylinders that are more expensive to produce), unique high performance big ends (that had tooling costs and volumes associated), bespoke pistons from a top manufacturer etc and orientate our cost base towards the best quality rebuild we can possibly supply - but need volume business to amortise those additional cost over long term production which makes price comparisons important when viewed by a non technical owner..

This increasingly forces us to make choices (and when costs conflict - we always come down on the side of the quality of the engine not the marketing).

To provide the additional visual records of a rebuild is a dream scenario but our technicians are not photographers so it would also need enough customers willing to pay even more to cover a full time employee and with likely costs involved well over £1K/week would require a lot of customers making those choices.

It is also unfortunate that by providing such a superb engine it results in additional margins available for competitors who cut corners and offer no where near the quality - to keep their prices slightly below ours - pay for such additional services and still be profitable

So - competitors who do not provide such a quality rebuild might well have enough left in the kitty to cover such costs but since we would not be prepared reduce our standards - it does put us in a difficult position.

Just saying that this is the reality we face.

Baz
 
Just as a reference (I'm not suggesting you should or shouldn't be doing this) my last 2 mechanics I use for servicing (over the last 9 years of ownership) have both whatsapp'd me photos or videos of any problems/issues with my car when they work on it. Obviously insignificant stuff like worn ARB bushes or disc faces mullered they don't do, but anything more serious, like diff gears munched, ims cover plate weeping, mullered flywheel, they have.

I get that this process is much easier for them as they are a one on one service and have my details easy to hand. I've never once asked for this kind of service, they just do it as a matter of course. I can totally understand that doing something like an engine rebuild with multiple people involved in the process, then it's far harder to control and puts an expense on the process.

Personally, I'd ask the lads what they think as well and see if you can come up with a solution. Something like this would suit me, whether I was customer or service person: When the car comes in for a job, give the customer option of receiving whatsapp photo updates of the work/issue/problem at a cost of £xx (something like a tenner/twenty) and whoever sends the photos whilst working on the car gets the 'bonus' direct to them. :dont know:

Just an idea.
 

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