I had a conversation with another shop owner recently and he was telling me how they charge $25 to scan a "check engine" light and give a short consultation to the customer.
To be honest, I have been doing it for free and using the "consultation" as a means to upsell the one-hour diagnostic.
I have come to the conclusion that I am seriously in error.
A customer can always go to a parts store for a free code scan, but the teenager behind the desk knows nothing about diagnosing cars. Meanwhile, if I scan the code, the customer actually gets to pick my brain for useful information that has taken me years to learn.
I have also come to realize that the "nice thing" isn't appreciated, because no one appreciates free. If I give something away for free, it must not be worth anything, which means to the "customers" I'm giving my "wisdom" to, that I have not worked that hard to know the information.
Well, last time I checked training isn't free. Neither are the information systems we subscribe to.
I say let the parts stores scan codes from free and sell parts that won't fix the car. Regular customers can't fix their own car anyway, so they will have to pay you for a diagnostic. DIYs are used to misdiagnosing their own cars routinely, so to them it is natural to undergo a standard parts-changing routine which is very profitable for a parts store.
Professionals get paid for their work. A customer should understand that in order for us to offer an honest service that has value, it has to come with a price.