Installer or Technician - What Are You? - aftermarketNews

Installer or Technician — What Are You?

“He thinks I'm working on parts. I'm working on concepts.” I recently came across this sentence in the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Unfortunately, this sentence describes the mentality of some elements in the aftermarket. It really got me thinking about an incident that happened to me earlier in the week. I was talking to a person involved in the aftermarket and he kept using the word “installer” to describe shops and technicians. Personally, I find the word “installer” to be very offensive. It does not describe the full role of the professional automotive technician in the aftermarket. It reduces technicians to merely “parts swappers” and not diagnosticians.

by Andrew Markel
Editor, Brake & Front End magazine

AKRON, OH — “He thinks I’m working on parts. I’m working on concepts.”

I recently came across this sentence in the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Unfortunately, this sentence describes the mentality of some elements in the aftermarket.

The author, Robert Pirsig, is traveling cross-country on a motorcycle with another motorcyclist. At this point in the book, he has pulled off to the side of the road to make an adjustment and fix his motorcycle. His fellow rider does not understand why he needs to take time to figure out why a problem is occurring and thinks he should just install a new part and move on.

It really got me thinking about an incident that happened to me earlier in the week. I was talking to a person involved in the aftermarket and he kept using the word “installer” to describe shops and technicians. Personally, I find the word “installer” to be very offensive. It does not describe the full role of the professional automotive technician in the aftermarket. It reduces technicians to merely “parts swappers” and not diagnosticians.

New part installation should be one of the final stages of a repair. First, technicians must understand why the vehicle is performing improperly. Second, they must diagnose the affected system. Last, they decide what parts need to be replaced.

If technicians skip immediately to the installation stage, they are doomed to repeat a repair several times. This is because either the part that was replaced was not the culprit or something is out-of-whack somewhere else in the vehicle that hastened the failure of the affected part.

For example, it would be like replacing just the brake pads if just the inside pad was worn, and not correcting what might cause the uneven pad wear.

But, the “installer” stereotype is starting to sink into the consumer’s consciousness. How many times this week will a consumer call or come in and ask how much it will be to replace an EGR valve or ABS modulator assembly without first describing the symptoms or problems they are having?

When you ask them why it needs to be replaced, are you told that a radio show host told them, or that their next door neighbor who was once a technician diagnosed the problem?

While their argument is valid in their own mind, it does not take into account the complexity of their vehicle. They think that since an advertisement, a person of authority, or a tool has told them what is wrong, it must be true and logical.

If you think we are alone, look at the relationship between doctors and prescription drugs. Look at all the commercials on TV where the message is, “If you have this problem, take our pill.”

Sure, the commercial ends with “ask your doctor,” but it basically turns the doctor into an “installer,” sorry, I mean “prescriber.” Many doctors feel that the emphasis should not be on the pill, but the total treatment the doctor has chosen to follow.

I feel that certain elements in the automotive aftermarket undermine the credibility of the technician in hopes of creating a need in the consumers’ minds for their products or increasing their own credibility.

I am talking about automotive radio show hosts who can diagnose and heal a vehicle over the phone, praise Jesus! Not all of them are bad, some give good information.

What can you do about it? The answer is simple, take the time to explain the repairs that are needed. On an invoice, write out what the technician did to the vehicle.

After all, we work on concepts, not parts. Also, we make more money selling diagnostic work than parts.

One more thing, if any one calls you an installer, please correct them and have them call you a technician.

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