What are “shop supplies”?

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Knock, Knock… Who’s there?

Shop supplies… Shop supplies who?

Shop supplies, it’s the little, “supplies” fee added to the end of your invoice at the mechanic shop… See what I did there; supplies instead of surprise hahaha.

The truth is that shop supplies, while necessary to perform the work we do, they are often used as a scapegoat for most auto repair shops to add an erroneous fee onto the invoice.

What I know about the shop supplies fee is that it was adopted in the early 80’s. This is when the industry was trying to find a way to increase profits without changing their fee structure. It was done to avoid losing a potential customer who was shopping on price. The shop would be able to quote low then make it up at invoice time; typically, 10-15% of the labor added into the little shop supplies line.

One thing you should know about this is that an erroneous fee added to an invoice is illegal in some provinces (and should be in all). Instead, they are to provide an itemized list of al the little supplies they used.

Imagine attending one of your favorite restaurants and ordering the tastiest dish on the menu, only to find an, “ingredient fee” added to the bottom of your tab. I would imagine this might just leave a, bad taste in your mouth.

Nope, no shop supplies

That’s right, since you have had a look at one of your invoices from Caliber, you will find a missing line; the “shop supplies” line. Go ahead take a look, it’s not there.

But why?

I am glad you asked! Since we began in 2004, we have always been very integrated into the industry; connecting with other shop owners and attending industry related networking events and training seminars. I would always ask questions of other shop owners, questions that would help me grow as a business owner and to help me avoid some of the stumbling blocks that come from trying to do things on your own; learning the hard way, as they say.

One question I asked 100% of the time; What are shop supplies?

Their response was often mixed with confusion, mostly because I owned a shop and they couldn’t figure out why I would be asking! The thing is, I would get different answers from each individual shop owner. Of course, the answers were all in fact, “shop supplies”. One would say, “grease, rags, soap”, and another might say, “computer software, bolts, paper towel”, and another, “anything we can’t directly account for”, and on it goes.

My perspective was that they themselves did not know what shop supplies really were; that it was just something they had always charged for. I came to this conclusion from the fact that 90% of them could not tell me what they paid out in, “shop supplies” for the year.

We buy supplies that  are used on every vehicle every day. In fact, I just ordered a new drum of car was soap today; its part of doing business. Every business has certain supplies they need in order to function.

If you find yourself paying shop supplies, ask; what exactly, are shop supplies?

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