February 17, 2016
It’s been a few days now since I ventured into the North Minneapolis Auto Repair World – Car Repair – North Style. It was a different world. It was a different culture.
The more I have thought about it, the more I have realized my biases – my culture filters I see things through and compare things to. I have also become convinced that the North shop culture is not a lessor culture – just different …and intriguing.
Take the parts department. It was definitely a different set-up than at an Abra shop. Does that make it wrong? If one calls it what it is, we need more shops with lots full of parts, not less. It’s called auto recycling.
The signage was different – no oversized, over-lit, gaudy signs. Not a problem. Maybe even preferred.
The parking was short, but adequate. We don’t really need more half empty paved lots with token shrubs.
No paid smiley face greeter. What’s so great about being greeted with a company prescribed greeting? What’s so special about being asked how one’s day has been going by someone who could care less?
The lack of lighting was different. It’s also energy efficient. Who’s paying the electricity bill for those brightly lit service areas?
Who said cleanliness was next to godliness? What’s the problem if a shop that deals with dirty things is dirty? Who’s paying the floor cleaner in those shops with the super clean floors?
Who needs chairs to wait in? Why wait? Why not take the dog on a long walk, go shopping, take some pictures, meet someone new.
No magazines? Does one really need to know who some glossy magazine editors have pronounced to be the sexiest golfer alive?
Who needs complimentary burnt coffee?
As I thought about the experience, I thought of the little man at the first place I had gone – the man I had a hard time understanding. I’m sure he was not born in this country. His shop may simply be as shops are in his home country. He could have a fascinating story. Why not hear it?
So, Monday I went back to the first repair shop. The shop, for some reason, did not seem as bad. The little man, however, seemed a bit surprised to see me. He asked me what he had quoted me. I told him he didn’t give me a price on the mirror. He said that was because he didn’t have one. I took the offensive and asked if he could get one. He did something on the computer and said 250 for everything, no paint, and to come back the next morning.
So, Tuesday, before bringing my car back in, I stopped at an Abra shop. I was curious.
It was the typical shop with chairs and magazines. I made sure my request was the same as to the other shops – fix the bumper and the mirror.
A smiley faced woman who was having a bad day entered my information into “the system” (none of which was needed to give me a price). Then an estimator type guy wearing a neatly pressed white shirt and carrying a clipboard with a form to check things off on went out and inspected and photographed the car. He also photographed things that didn’t need fixing and wanted to know about the small dent in the hood. We went back inside and he played with the computer for a few minutes. Then gave me a 3 page printed estimate. Bottom line, for the same work:
That’s 1,016.59 more than the North-cultured shop – five times more!
Being very happy I did not reject North because of cultural differences, I headed over to my North shop. While they worked on the car, Xerx and I went for a long walk. Did some photographing. Was asked by just about everyone we passed, ‘What kind of dog is that?”
Got back to the shop and the bumper was fixed. No paint was needed. They were still working on the mirror. We went into the office and the little man cleaned off the cleanest chair for me to sit on. Talked some. He has a german shepherd.
When the car was done I paid him and asked for a receipt. He held up a piece of note paper and asked if it would be O.K. on this. He had used this as his stationary before. He had his name already stamped on it (covered by yellow paper). He said the computer was too slow. So, on some Radiator note pad stationary, he documented my thousand dollar savings. I smiled. I really like this culture.
We then went out to look at the mirror. After inspecting the work, he, with a smile to kill for, tapped on the mirror, pointed to the car, and said:
“Lucky! Same color.”