Why do mechanics have a reputation problem?

You don’t have to look far to see it. From disreputable characters in pop culture and TV shows to urgent newspaper headlines and maybe even your own family members - it’s clear that people are really wary of mechanics. (This can be especially galling if it’s your own profession, as it will be for many of our visitors browsing online car auctions here at RAW2K.) On top ten lists of the least trusted occupations, mechanics often rank up amongst estate agents, lawyers and even politicians! So, why do people have such a trust issue with mechanics? Well, you may not be surprised to hear, it probably comes down to two main things - the complexity, and cost of cars. 

Cars are complicated

With the vast majority of jobs we set ourselves as consumers, most of us have at least a rough idea of where to begin. Conversations with our bank or local councils aren’t necessarily pleasant, but we at least have a good idea of how we think things should be (even if the other person doesn’t necessarily agree). With our cars however, most of us have no idea where to start. When we purchase any other sorts of goods or services, it’s rare that we feel completely powerless, and it means that we have to place our total faith in a complete stranger. So it’s understandable that (fairly or not) we put that stranger under a little more scrutiny than we might reserve for the average cashier at the supermarket.

This lack of knowledge and direct experience isn’t just limited to the cars, but also to the wider industry, too. That means some customers can form unrealistic expectations for their mechanics, especially if any delays are involved. Is my mechanic really waiting for a fresh batch of parts to come in, they may wonder, or does he just see an excuse to charge me a few days of extra storage fees? Again, while understandable from a consumer’s perspective, it means that even reasonable delays can quickly leave customers feeling cheated, especially if they don’t see a reason they should be waiting in the first place. However, if you’ve caught yourself thinking that way before, it’s worth bearing in mind that most modern cars have upwards of 30,000 parts. That means there’s a fair chance that at least one or two of them are going to cause problems every now and again, even for the most experienced of mechanics!

Cars are expensive

Most people aren’t surprised to learn that cars are one of the single biggest purchases many of us make in our lifetimes. That tends to mean that problems with them come with an accordingly eye-watering price tag. It doesn’t help that replacement parts themselves can be expensive - especially for luxury cars like Audis or BMWs - which adds an extra unwelcome layer of cost as far as the average customer is concerned. 

Most people are fairly blasé about spending a few extra quid here and there, but when figures start rising into the hundreds of pounds, they tend to be a lot more selective about who they’re spending it with. And as we’ve touched on above, being especially sensitive about money means that if customers don’t feel that certain costs have been justified to a reasonable degree, that leaves them a lot more prone to feeling like they’ve been ripped off. 

When you take the complexity of average cars into account, all this can add up to situations where customers can end up paying hundreds of pounds for reasons they don’t fully understand, which can leave them feeling suspicious, wronged or upset. In short, if they’ve got no idea how much they should be paying, that can make them feel intensely vulnerable, which in turn leads to feelings of mistrust. Whether individual mechanics (or the industry as a whole) actually deserves this mistrust is a matter up for debate! 

So, what can can mechanics do to change this perception?

If you’re a professional mechanic yourself, it’s understandable that everything we’ve outlined above might still seem a little unfair, especially if you pride yourself on being open and honest with your customers. Happily, there are ways you can protect your own reputation. It’s probably no surprise by now that price and transparency are two of the biggest qualities that people look for a mechanic, so it helps to bear that in mind during every stage of the process. 

Another way you can increase customer trust is by taking the time to go through every aspect of what needs fixing, both before and after you get the work done. Lots of people walk away from their mechanics feeling like they’ve been pressured into having repairs they don’t really need, so always take the time to explain the details of the work you’re recommending, and why you think it needs to be done. If possible, give them the option to refuse permission for you to do inessential pieces of work, but make sure to outline the possible consequences of that decision. Remember, one of the core reasons that people distrust mechanics is that they feel like the power has been taken away from them, so it’s always a good idea to try and find ways to help them feel like they’re still in control. 

As with every service-based profession, don’t forget that the basic rules of customer service go a long way too. That involves being calm and reasonable to all customers to encounter - even if they’re not displaying the same courtesy to you. Don’t feel afraid to give them all the information they need to go away and research themselves if they want to. If you’ve got confidence in your own expertise and services, you don’t need to worry about them going anywhere else. 

Today’s digital age gives you another valuable resource, too; online reviews. Studies have consistently shown that customers tend to prioritise their fellow consumers as the most trustworthy sources of information, so make sure to encourage your satisfied customers to leave positive online reviews. 

While the public’s general lack of trust in mechanics can be disheartening for honest professionals, don’t forget that to a certain degree, it can work in your favour too. The flipside of the mistrust issue is that once drivers have found a mechanic they’re happy with, they tend not to risk going to anyone else. As long as you can ensure they have a positive initial experience, you’re likely to benefit from repeat business for many years to come.  

Any if you’re short of a few parts here and there, that’s where it can be helpful to have one or two salvage cars handy, just in case. We’ve got a huge range to choose from here at RAW2K, with popular models from a variety of global manufacturers - including Mercedes, Ford and Citroen. Our online salvage car auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis, so why not take a look around, and see what you can find?