Apr 09, 2021

How to Deal With Declined Repairs

How to Deal With Declined Repairs

We’ve all been there. A truck comes in making all sorts of weird noises. One of your techs performs an inspection and finds all kinds of things that need fixing. The owner is okay with some of them, but says, “Nah, not yet” to the rest.

Congratulations! Everyone deals with declined repairs once in a while. Trust us, you’re in good company.

But what is a declined repair?

Honestly, it’s pretty self-explanatory. A vehicle comes into your shop with a complaint. Your tech checks the vehicle, diagnoses the ailment and recommends a repair. The customer, for mysterious reasons, says, “No thanks” and heads out.

On the surface, this seems mysterious. Why would a customer do this? Do they not trust your judgment? What can you do about it?

Both are good questions. Let’s dive into the world of rejection!


Let’s make one thing absolutely clear. When a repair is declined, 99% of the time, it’s not you, it’s them.

If a customer declines a repair, there are usually two major reasons behind it. On one hand, they may not have the budget for the repair (or repairs) you’ve suggested. If money is tight, they might have to pick and choose which repairs to perform.

On the other hand, larger fleets often have their own internal shops. They may have come to you for an emergency repair; if you’ve noticed other problems, it may be more cost-effective for them to take care of those other issues “back home” so to speak.

You may also have the occasional customer who is crunched for time and needs to hit the road, like, yesterday. They can’t afford the downtime required for repairs.

So, now you know why they might turn down repairs. Can you do anything about it?

If a customer declines a repair due to budget or timing issues, you can attempt to meet them halfway. Safety issues absolutely need to be taken care of, and a payment plan can go a long way in easing a customer’s mind. There may also be certain critical repairs you can make, say, today, and less critical repairs you can make when the truck comes back in a month.


We just mentioned safety, so let’s zero in on that for a moment. Part of your job as a shop is to sort out the nuisances from the safety issues. A dent in the door won’t make a truck fail a DOT inspection. A bald tire absolutely will. And a bald tire isn’t just a matter of failing the DOT – it’s outright dangerous.

You can face all sorts of liability issues when you allow an unsafe vehicle to leave your property. Understand that there isn’t a heck of a lot you can do if the person in charge of the vehicle is determined to go.

What you can do is protect yourself and your shop. That means, as the kids say, you keep your receipts. Document everything. Take pictures of the damage and produce extensive notes (if your shop is powered by Fullbay, all of that is kept secure with the vehicle’s file).

We have heard of some shops that put together a contract indicating all the problems with a vehicle, stating they believe it is unsafe and the driver/owner/manager acknowledges this and is electing to drive it off anyway. They have the customer sign this document before leaving.

If something does happen to that vehicle and it can be traced back to you, you need to be able to and show the proper authorities that you did warn the driver or manager about issues and they went ahead and ignored them.

If a customer drives off and something happens…you have evidence. Record retention covers your shop.

Let us repeat that for the folks in back:

Record retention covers your shop.


You know what’s really good at record retention?


You already know we’re the best at tracking preventive maintenance, but we can also show you what was repaired vs. what was declined. You can opt to keep the “declined” portion separate, or have both appear on the invoice – which the customer will sign off on – to make sure you’re covered.

Remember how we said you need to keep the receipts? Fullbay makes the receipts. The app documents and remembers everything so you don’t have to.

Fullbay records “declined” repairs as “pending” repairs, and has several display options available; you can see all the pending repairs for a particular fleet, or all the pending repairs for your shop. You can use those pending repairs to draw people into the revenue funnel by giving them a call: “Hey, Georgie, I’m calling about that oil pan leak. Yes, I’m still thinking about it. How about you bring the truck in?”

Keeping in touch with customers this way is part of building and strengthening your relationships. Your job is to maximize their uptime by keeping their vehicles operating safely. They usually want the same thing, even if they can’t afford it right now or don’t have the time to take all your advice. The bottom line is, you’re finding things, often during inspections. Fleets like shops that double-check, that look into things, that follow up. Keeping after those fleets – in a polite way, of course – is a good practice. It builds trust and it’s ultimately an excellent way to drive business.

Looking for a better way to document declined repairs and better protect your business? We’ve got a pretty great free demo we think you’ll like. Give us a try and see what life is like in a shop powered by Fullbay.

Suz Baldwin