In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Dec 26, 2008
An old carpenter once told me, "The difference between a good carpenter and a bad carpenter is that a good carpenter knows how to cover up his mistakes." That adage popped into my mind recently when I was backtracking to fix a problem that cropped up after I thought I had repairs completed. Okay, I admit--I made a mistake, didn't fix the problem the first time, and had to go back and do the repair again.
It bothers the heck out of me to cost a customer extra money. To the point where I usually figure out a way to make up the lost time and extra expense elsewhere in the project. Not to be a martyr, but I've worked "off the clock" and paid for an extra set of gaskets out of my own pocket in order to make things right. If I can't find a way to make things right on a current project, I keep the "debt" in mind and try to make things right when I do future repairs for that customer.
That's not to say that I haven't done during repairs things that bothered my conscience. It's tough to keep absolute track of all the nuts, bolts, pieces and parts in a major repair job. There have been times when, after the dust settled and the machine was back in the field, I discovered that a couple extra parts did--or didn't--get charged to the job. There have been times when a gear or bearing wasn't as bad as my initial diagnosis indicated, but I went ahead and replaced it anyway because I already had things torn apart.
That's why I recommend customers read every repair bill, pay attention to the billing, and come to me or my service manager and ask questions if things don't seem correct. It doesn't offend me to go over a bill with a customer, and I feel good if we find and correct mistakes. I feel better if it all checks out, however.
I confess I've made a couple major goofs over the years. The statute of limitations on stupidity hasn't expired on those situations, so I won't go into detail. Let it suffice that I confessed my sins to my service manager and we worked things out to the customer's satisfaction.
They say confession is good for the soul. When I was younger it was hard for me to admit when I'd screwed something up. it's become easier as I've grown older--I guess practice makes perfect. The up-side to all my errors is that I've learned not only how to admit my mistakes, but I've learned how to correct them. So I've revised that old carpenter's saying to, "The difference between a good mechanic and a bad mechanic is... a good mechanic knows how to fix