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Validate Your Assumptions

Over the last few months, PBI has had a high volume of vehicle repairs for our fleet of trucks. It seemed like every day were getting another call from our fleet manager for another costly repair. The repair costs have been higher than usual and some of the repairs have not been of the type we typically see. And all of this has been from just one of multiple repair shops that we do business with.

Initial thoughts were that we were being billed for unnecessary repairs and overcharged on top of it. This is a repair shop we have known for years, so how could they be doing this? We spend $50,000.00 dollars a year with them, so how dare they?  Suddenly, I’m hating these #&*%#$ guys! Sound familiar?

Checking into the vehicle repair histories, we got hit with a perfect storm of tire replacements, oil changes and common repairs for mileage that skewed the numbers. And our fleet manager felt the pricing was fair considering all the work that was done. I made a big mistake assuming the repair shop was doing something wrong. I’m just glad I didn’t call them to raise hell because I would have looked like an A$$.

It’s burned into my brain from my Mother: “when you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME”. Too bad I don’t practice her teachings as much as I should. We always needs to validate our assumptions as best we can.

My next thought was much more disturbing: Does this happen to our clients? When they get hit with unexpected invoices (most invoices are), do they assume we are overcharging? Do they think we are being dishonest? Do they suddenly hate us????

PBI typically charges much less than our competition. We usually don’t charge for all equipment on our projects and we apply discounts any time we can. How is it possible a client could think we are overcharging when we are actually being extremely cost conscious?

In business, it’s our job not only to validate our assumptions but to also validate those of our clients. Our industry is piled high with contractors who overcharge to extremes so assumptions are logical, even if they’re not correct.

The solution, as with most things, is better communication.  We need to prepare our clients before the fact for any eventualities, and then keep in touch throughout the process, constantly “taking their temperature” so we know if there’s a problem of perception … or assumptions.  I’ll bet that applies to your business too. 

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations.  Reach him at