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AFJuvat's Avatar
 
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Customer supplied parts

I was reading a few comments on another post about the high cost of a clutch. Someone made mention of how the shop would not allow him to supply his own parts.

What few people realize is, a shop has usually balanced his sales to where 30% - 40% of the shop income is based on parts sales. So, by asking to bring in your own parts, you are asking the shop to take away around 30% of his income on a job.

Would you give away 30% of your pay?

Further, as a customer bringing in his own parts - I have absolutely no control over what you want me to install. Do you honestly expect me to warranty a repair when I have no idea where the parts came from. Assuming you did buy from a reputable source, who handles the warranty claim if the part fails?

So what is a fair price for parts?

With that in mind, for those of you who don't know (i.e. not mechanics\not in the repair business) here is how the parts system works.

Parts are divided into three big categories:

OE: Original Equipment: Will come in a factory box, will have a Porsche part number and logo. Available through wholesalers and at the dealership

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer: Usually the same part as OE, but in the manufacturers box. (Sachs for clutches, Pagid for brakes, Bosch for electrical components, etc)

Aftermarket: Anything not one of the above. Aftermarket either tries to improve upon OE\OEM (like exhausts, chips, air filters), made to replace a part no longer made by the OE\OEM, or to provide a lower cost alternative. The "low cost" parts are generally considered inferior to OE\OEM and are not used often in shops.

The "aftermarket" is to big to get into here, so concentrating on OE\OEM:

When a car is manufacturered, the company generally purchases a large quantity of parts, as well as contracting for a steady supply of parts as necessary during the projected lifetime of the car line.

The manufacturer will generally, after a few years, release the rights of sale to the OEM for SOME of the common replacable parts. They also "hold" some parts as OE and are not released for sale by the OEM. In this case, Porsche would be the only available source, though not necessarily the only place to buy them.

So now that we have this glut of OE and OEM parts floating around, where do we buy them?

We as a shop, have three sources for parts:

Porsche - in some cases, the only source for parts - usually done on a wholesale account partnered with a dealer.

Wholesaler - Depending on the company, a great source for both OEM and original Porsche parts that Porsche sold to the wholesalers and some of the larger retailers.

Retailer: Car parts store, Automotion, Pelican Parts, etc - where the everyday person buys parts - we get wholesale prices with some of the bigger companies.

You, as a consumer, have Porsche or a retailer to buy from. Most wholesalers will not deal with you unless you plan on dropping several hundred to a few thousand a month on parts.

Now how are parts priced?

The name of the game in the parts business is VOLUME. The more you buy, the cheaper the per-unit cost. The more you spend overall with a wholesaler, the less he is going to charge you on parts. Now, no matter what I buy it for (cost) I still have the "retail" or "list" price to work with. List is what Porsche would charge the average person walking into a dealership for the part. Some dealers mark their parts up over list - this is why it helps to shop around before you buy.

Example: 1986 Porsche 944 muffler with pipe, Bosal (OEM)
List $735.21 Cost $231.68

As you can see, there is almost 300% mark-up to play with here.

What is a fair price for this part? Obviously to be competitive, you have to work less than list price. One very well known retailer (who shall remain nameless) Priced it in the $300s - a very low profit margin - and then charges over $100 to ship it. The final irony, that retailer gets it from the same place I do - even told me as much on the phone (not knowing I had an account with the same wholesaler, who, by the way, doesn't charge shipping)

Ok, why am I being sooooo long winded here? Just to prove a few important points:

1. That guy in the shop probably isn't screwing you over in the price department like you think - You get paid for your work, why should you expect the guy who fixes your car not to get paid for his work?

2. Do your homework, and know about what things should cost before you get to a shop, or before you slap that credit card down to buy.

Ok, rant over,

Discuss

AFJuvat
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Old 07-26-2004, 10:04 PM
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Ditto. Either learn to do the work yourselves or let your mechanic do it all. It's easy to be too "demanding" of your mechanic...bringing in your own parts crosses a line that most have which divides "friendly willing-to-do guy" and "will likely **** in your rice crispies when you're not looking"...

It's better to learn to do it yourself if you're looking for a bargain. Not only do you save money but you feel better about yourself and your car.
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Old 07-26-2004, 10:14 PM
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... or you could just call pretending to be a shop that buys from the wholesaler... do some phishing and get yourself one awesome deal on the mech's tab. but that's the kind of thing i'd do to a shop that ripped me off *ahem*. not to my nearly-a-family-member mechanic buddy who's taken a lot of effort to help and teach me. for that dude, i'd go steal parts for, not from.
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Old 07-26-2004, 11:30 PM
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I agree in most cases that this is the way it should be. However, as an example of how this doesn't always apply is when a car is somewhat rare, the owner has access to parts and the shop does not have that easy access. As an example, on my wife's 1993 Passat, a part that the dealer had to install because of special tools "wouldn't be available for, a week to ten days". I made a few inquiries and got it drop shipped in two.

I do not mind paying a mechanic for the work they do, or the parts they install as long as the markup is reasonable. And, as was pointed out, the markup can vary considerably from shop to shop. Further, many shops are not really up front with their costs, knowing that the individual with a broken car is in a hurry and to some extent at their mercy. It would be nice to have the luxury of that time to research, but it is not always possible and many shops know that and also know that most people are just plain patsies, ready to be fleeced. Before you tar and feather me, please read the following paragraph:

Back when I lived on the east coast, I had a mechanic I trusted completely. Always treated me fair, and did damn good work. I really miss him. I have not found a replacement out here in Tucson. The work ethic here leaves a lot to be desired. So I wind up doing as much of the work as I can myself.

I used to have a part-time business repairing consumer electronics; flat rate per hour and parts. With few exceptions (nowadays everything is special modules so the game has changed) back then, parts were generic, and I stocked capacitore, resistors, chokes, transistors, tubes, and so on. Markup on everything ranged from 300% on small items (a $.50 resistor became $1.50) to much less for large and expensive items like picture tubes. Now, if I were still in the business, I would have to order those modules special since to inventory the thousands out there would be silly. So, the customer would have to wait until the item arrived, and the markup would probably be equal to the cost of the item (most modules go from $50 to $200 for a total mother board replacement) of course. If the individual brought in the module for me to install, I would have to consider an additional fee to cover the "lost income". After all, a customer supplied part should be inspected prior to install, wouldn't you think? That should take between half to an hour. As to warranty, If the part fails and the individual supplied it, he or she should have the warranty from wherever they purchased it, and I would not offer "free" labor to replace it. My bill stated such.

The well known retailer you mention...Does the supplier from which he purchases "drop ship", allowing the "WKR" to pocket the $100 shipping?
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Old 07-26-2004, 11:31 PM
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I agree that it's bad form to rip off your mechanic, but there are some times where it's just worth it to bring your own parts. When I had my TB done the mech. said he wanted to replace all the hoses as well (OK, fair enough) but warned me they would be fairly expensive. I replied, "HOLY !@#$%@#$%^ where are you buying your parts from? I can get them for under $100 from Performance Products." His response was "really? I can't get anywhere near that price, just order 'em and throw 'em in the trunk when you bring the car in." He did buy the belts, tensioners, water pump etc. as his prices on those were all within a few $$ of what I would have paid.

So sometimes it's a necessary evil. Yes, I know that if one of those hoses blows it's on me. I can live with that. It's all about having a good relationship with your mechanic and not playing the "bring your own parts" card unless there's a darn good reason, like a 3-400% price difference.

nate
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Old 07-27-2004, 03:17 AM
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Nate mentioned the major aspect of this, the relationship with the repair shop. If someone wants to bring their own parts in, we will consider it and if they have been a regular customer, we'll install the parts. If someone just calls out of the blue and wants a one-off deal, then no, there's no profit in it for the shop.

Both AF's shop and mine buy parts all over the place and know where all the major mail-order and web based retailers get there parts. You might notice the warranty provisions; the part is replaced and that's it. The shop that supplies a part and installs it has to eat the labor if the part fails, that's a big difference.

When shops are having to make sure that they are profitable, loosing the profit from parts is enough to turn that particular job down.
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Old 07-27-2004, 04:17 AM
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The majority of my work is marine racing engines(mostly big block V8s)
I get my parts from alot of different suppliers. Some direct from the factory. As you can imagine the mark-up on "marine" parts is ridiculous. So there is a profit to be made off them. But 99% of my profit is labor. I will do everything possible to save a customer money. People with high performance boats generally have money to burn and will pay anything to go faster. Buy building a motor cheaper than a competitor, it might bring me more business and return customers.
I have no problem using a part supplied by the customer, as long as I feel it is up to the task. Someone might bring me a crankshaft or other part that they read about and bought., and insist on using it. If it is the right part for their application , no prob. If i feel it is not, I will tell them . If they still insist on using it, I will write it in the build specs and have them sign off on the warranty waiver. Hey it is their money. I see people toss away alot of $$ just because something looks pretty, but isnt worth a crap. High performance boaters like alot of flash. Some people you just cant reason with. I'm honest with customers. There have been parts that I flat out refused to use, and the guy walked out. Oh well too bad, it's my reputation on the line. If one of my motors blows apart, bad advertising.
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Old 07-27-2004, 04:56 AM
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"Example: 1986 Porsche 944 muffler with pipe, Bosal (OEM)
List $735.21 Cost $231.68"

I compare this to a local major supper market that keeps a running total on your receipt about the money you "saved" shopping with them. Who the heck they are comparing their prices to I have no idea. It's a bogus total as I can go down the street and get the same thing for 99 cents at the 99 Cents stores. Or over to Sam's Club and buy it for 10 to 40 percent less. Same for the above example.

Now I don't think that a shop should give away any parts they have to purchase BUT most customers are not stupid enough to just sit back and take a 700% increase in price. Unfortunately as some are then the shops business practices are highly questionable.

I've seen shops add on 10% because the customer brought in their own parts. Parts identical to the ones the shop was going to supply at twice the cost. You can bet you behind that the knowledgeable customer who gets dorked like this will not come back.
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Old 07-27-2004, 08:06 AM
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Sometimes it easier on the shop if you bring in your own parts, especially used parts. I do however buy some parts from the shop that I wanted warrantied. They knew I could do the work, and find better price, but I didn't want to jack with it. We found a happy medium, and the shop gets to check the belts when it's time to do so. Actually it's nice to knock back a few cold ones with the guy and discuss how it took 20 mins to check the belt tension and how he charged me for an hour labor. Then he replies "Well I can always start the clock when you show up! You know that the engine has to be cool." On and on it goes, all for laughter, and then I pay, but he refunds me $10 b/c I don't have power steering. I give him the 10 spot and what ever is left in the fridge. Every time I'm in Dallas, I stop by.
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Old 07-27-2004, 10:11 AM
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Juvvy,

I think it was my comment on another post that you are refering to..

My problem is that things break whenever I don't have the money to get them fixed properly from a shop. I know that I can do the work, but have nowhere to do it.
So in an IDEAL situation, the shop would do the work I cannot. I have no problem paying for labor rates, but it's the HUGE markup on parts that I can't stomach. for $1000, I could probably rent some sort of small warehouse for a month and do things myself. Please do not take any of my comments as a global slam against shops trying to make a buck, it's just my situation.



Don
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Old 07-27-2004, 12:30 PM
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I liken bringing your own parts to a garage for installation in the same way I liken bringing your own ham and eggs to a restaurant for breakfast.

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Old 07-27-2004, 01:08 PM
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Don, the HUGE mark-up you refer to just doesn't exist. What does exist is a mark-up that allows the shop to make a profit, cover the warranty, pay for the parts stocking and shelving costs and other associated costs.
It's generally accepted in ALL types of business operations that a gross profit of 100% is required to be profitable. Many Porsche parts do not have anything like that sort of margin in them. Shops are in this business to make a profit, whether they also like Porsches or not, and when the business stops being profitable, it stops completely. With the investment that is needed to run a repair shop, all aspects of the business must be profitable for success to follow.
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Old 07-27-2004, 04:21 PM
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Interesting discussion, We often have people call wanting a price to install "their" parts. Most of the time we refuse, partly due to the "no profit" on the job and partly due to the warranty issues.

If a customer buys a part from us and it fails we replace it again for free. Most of the parts suppliers we deal with will give us a new part and pay labor to install it. This allows us to cover all repairs for 12 months or 12,000 miles. If a customer supplies their own part we cannot warranty it...PERIOD. Many people do not understand how this all works for a shop and become quite irritated if they have to pay twice..its just not worth it.

As far as markup goes, we use a price matrix as do many other shops. The matrix might add 300% markup to a $2.00 part and only 20% to a $1500.00 part.

Most shops, including us cannot operate on labor charges alone. Good mechanics simply are not available for the low rate that you would have to offer them to do this.

Personally, I would rather have someone running around saying we are too expensive, than saying we do crappy work or refused to fix their car for free.

We are not the cheapest shop in our area, infact we are one of the most expensive. Our customers come to us because of our service and warranty.

Would you really even want to be the cheapest? Then you attract all the junk thats not worth fixing and the owners refuse to fix it right..No thanks, not for me.

Occasionally, we have installed customer parts. BUT, it is made perfectly clear with the customer that there is NO WARRANTY, and the labor rate is usually higher.
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Old 07-27-2004, 09:07 PM
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I think all of us on this board are here to learn about our cars and how we can fix them ourselves. Ordering a part from Pelican for $40 and installing it ourselves might save $150+ compared to a shop buying the part and installing it. When we see that kind of money saving, combined with the self accomplishment of fixing our own stuff it almost seems to cheapen our impression of what a shop would do. The attitude of "Well, i did it for $40 and the shop would have soaked me for $150+" is mostly, in my opinion, out of pride, because we don't have to deal with labor costs and we never see the side that AF was explaining.

But when something does go wrong that we can't fix ourselves, and we're at the mercy of the mechanic so we both feel like we're getting the shaft, plus our pride's been hurt a little bit. Griping about the shop is an unfortunate side-effect.

We're here to learn, they're there to make money. I think it's awesome that there are guys like AF, Britwrench, and others, who make their living as mechanics, yet they spend time in the chat rooms and on this message board helping us out. It's a huge conflict of interest for those guys, and most of their help probably seems under-appreciated.
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Old 07-27-2004, 09:29 PM
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I took the wrong path with my car's emergency repairs. I took it to, as Wolf mentioned, the inexpensive shop. i am no paying for those repairs over again and having to do it myself. At least it's a learning experience. the lesson: Don't go to the least expensive place.

I'm sure if i would have gone to someplace else that wasn't so cheap, got the parts from them, it would have been a different story.
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Old 07-27-2004, 10:34 PM
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Sorry, I just find it hard to believe that there's "no profit in it" when most shops are charging between $80 and $120 an hour for their wrenchers.

If a person wants to supply their own parts and the shop doesn't want to warranty the work because they didn't select them, that's fine, I can live with that. Similarly if a person brings in some aftermarket piece of junk and wants it installed I can see why the shop might be hesitant, warn the person or refuse the work on a "safety" related concern (safety is important, as is their reputation - if a crappy aftermarket part fails shortly after repair, the owner is GOING to blame the shop, even if it is no fault of theirs).

Anyway, I suppose I can see both sides but gouging customers for overpriced parts is inappropriate by a professional outfit; similarly if someone wants to refuse work on one of these "el cheapo" requests, that's certainly their right. If someone asks ME to do work and then wants to "cut this, cut that, etc." and they're clearly only concerned with not spending any money, it's got "TROUBLE" written all over it and typically I won't take the job. You know it'll end up being a tug-of-war over pennies with a fickle cheapass owner. Not worth my time.

However, the price of repairs has gotten somewhat ridiculous. What's even worse is the logic of our enlightened lawmakers with regards to this: here in CA, it is illegal to work on your own vehicle (typically by ordinance) in the street or on private property unless you own it. Since only millionaires can afford houses now, I guess the other 90% of us are condemned to either get ripped off for a new car every four or five years, to get ripped off for overpriced repairs, or to figure out a way to sneak around it. I guess I have to keep sneaking. . . Fortunately my landlord never goes in the garage.
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Old 07-28-2004, 05:50 AM
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It's considered your property/owned property if you're renting the house or have a mortgage on the house.
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Old 07-28-2004, 12:45 PM
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I didn't know about that BS about not being allowed to work on your car on the street in Ca. I've no where else to work on it so I'll keep on ignoring that law - a selective memory can be useful.
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Old 07-28-2004, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moneyguy1
...The well known retailer you mention...Does the supplier from which he purchases "drop ship", allowing the "WKR" to pocket the $100 shipping?
I would suppose so - it would be ordered by and shipped to WKR and then shipped to customer. Overnight was extra....

AFJuvat
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Old 07-28-2004, 06:41 PM
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Old 07-28-2004, 06:47 PM
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