What are “shop supplies”?

Shop supplies fee, what are shop supplies,

Shop Supplies

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 our work, are often used as a profit booster for some auto repair shops.

Why shops charge it:

What I know about the shop supplies fee is that it was adopted in the early 80’s. It was a time when the industry was trying to find a way to increase profits without changing its fee structure. Industry implemented this to avoid losing a potential customer. The shop could quote low and then make it up at invoice time; typically, the shop would add 10-15% of the labor to the little shop supplies line.

You should know 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 all 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. This would leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Nope, no shop supplies

If you have looked at one of your invoices from Caliber, you will find a missing line: the “shop supplies” line. Go ahead and take a look; it’s not there.

But why?

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

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! 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 for “shop supplies” that year.

We buy supplies that we use on every vehicle every day. In fact, I just ordered a new drum of car wash soap today and stocked our supply room; it’s part of doing business. Every business has certain supplies they need in order to do a proper job. I think it is below the line to add erroneous fees to an invoice.

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