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Welcome New Mechanics - How to Learn Facial Expressions

By Herbert Lehmann

As your instructor, allow me to welcome you new mechanics to the second day of our seminar. In your quest to become service managers at automotive repair garages, you have enrolled in this course to learn procedures and facial expressions that are necessary in your dealings with the driving public. Many of you will emerge from these lessons and go on to bigger and better things; others will fold. Those of you who fold will become our service managers.

Students, you will recall that in class yesterday, we went over how to move an automobile in periodic steps from the spot where it was left by the owner, thus lulling the driver into believing that his vehicle is being worked on. We also touched on how to react to requests for same-day service from stranded vacationing motorists. Can anyone answer that? That’s right; first look incredulous, laugh out loud, and then repeat one of the stock replies from page three of our Service Directors handbook, namely, “Call us in about a week” or “Those parts are only made in Iraq.”

So far, so good. Today we will go over the procedures to follow once you have inspected a vehicle that has been brought in for a repair estimate. These steps are important. First, ignore the driver for 15 or 20 minutes, perhaps answer the phone several times; then, while shaking your head from side to side, whistle and mutter ominously; “We can tackle it, but it’s gonna cost ya.” Or, “It’s up to you. We can fix it now or install a whole new engine later.” Or, “I wouldn’t risk driving that car home.” This will prepare the customer (we never refer to them as marks) for the staggering bill that usually follows.

That’ll wind it up for today. Tomorrow we will go over how to present a final bill that is several hundred percent over and above your verbal estimate and how to explain dents in the car bodies that were not there when the car was dropped off. We’ll also offer some repair terms that can confuse and befuddle car owners, like torque, rack and pinion, caliper fatigue, and rotor warp. We’ll add some doublespeak identifications that you can interject like gramistat, togglebinder, zitherstrut, and flange burnout, all of which have successfully frustrated owners in the past.

The course will conclude with the final, most important instructions on how to explain to the owner of an automobile that the warranty he purchased was not bumper-to-bumper, rather it covered only the two bumpers. Class dismissed.