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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:17 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:06 pm
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Location: Coventry
How much is a pair shoes? How much is a TV? How much for a new carpet for my lounge? or even, how much is a car?

People seem to understand there are different qualities of everything except a gas conversion. How come dinner for two at the beefeater is £20 and £200 at some restaurants? At KFC, you can feed 4 for a tenner. Who's getting ripped off? The answer of course is that no one is, they all provide fair value for their customer's requirements.

Some people appreciate what the "conversion package" consists of. Some can only see the price they have to pay today.
We get so many phone calls asking "how much to convert my car?" They don't tell you what car they have. They seem put out that you want to know. after all they just want a gas conversion. Then when you finally get to the price after qualifying what they actually want, they hang up. Why?, because they have a preconceived idea of price in their head and they are just trying to find the lowest. They have no interest in whether it will be suitable for their use or the car, how it will be fitted or if the filler cap will be black or colour coded. Will the tank really be the biggest for their car? Will it have a large bore fill pipe or will they spend 5 minutes longer each time they fill their tank because the installer used the "free" 8mm copper pipe that came with his kit. Is a courtesy car included? Do they get a full tank of gas?
These people generally are very difficult to please because when they ring round they aren't interested in the details of the quote but they hear things from various installers then expect everything thrown in at £100 less than the lowest actual quote they have had. No matter what you do for them, they will still have the fear that they paid too much, someone else might have done it cheaper.
These are the people who get stranded abroad when their holiday company goes bust. They are the people who leave the Christmas party 2 hours after everyone has gone because they ordered the cheapest minibus to take them home. And, these are the people who turn up 3 months later asking you to fix their LPG conversion for free because it's under warranty from someone who fitted it in his garage after work but now won't answer his phone any more.

Any warranty you get is from YOUR supplier. No supplier NO warranty. The equipment distributor may replace any defective parts but you will have to pay for delivery both ways and wait for them to be tested before return. You are not the distributor's customer. LPG equipment distributors do not have the same warranty systems as Sony.

Basic facts are that firstly, a business has to cover it's costs, secondly it has to make a profit. Profits may be considered a luxury in hard times but you still need to pay your bills.
When the supply of customers slows, some businesses panic and start cutting prices because they have no unique selling proposition to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market. This makes other similar businesses cut their prices as they fight for the customers. The customers start rubbing their hands in glee. What used to cost £1500 is now only £1100. What a bargain. Is it? Not necessarily. When you paid £1500, the business made enough money to pay all it's suppliers, staff, the rent, the rates. gas and electric bills, and the tax man. And finally the business owners.

When you pay £1100, the cost of the equipment hasn't got cheaper by £400 so how do we save the money? After all, our kids want a PS3 as well as everyone else. Well lets ask for a discount from our supplier, he says the pound is weak against the euro so it's costing him more, how can he cut the prices? He needs to put them up to survive. OK let's buy the kit from some where else. Good idea, except what if it breaks down? Can we afford to replace any faulty parts? But then we haven't saved any money, just made more work for ourselves and risk annoying customers by delaying the repairs to their car.
Still need to save £400 on each conversion. Fit smaller tanks. Yes that works, less raw material, less free gas to give away. Could save £40 quid. So what if the customer only gets 120 miles to a tank full. Large bore filler pipe with fittings, save another £25 by using 8 mm copper pipe. £65.00 saved. Still need to save £335. How about a cheaper kit? Yes, after all the customer just wants a cheap gas conversion. Injectors aren't quick enough for his 2ms petrol injector timings? doesn't matter if they max out at 4000 rpm, no one needs to go faster than 70 mph do they? Ok thats good. but still £200 to shave off the cost. OK let's not buy any steel and make custom brackets, then we don't need to buy any primer and black paint, we don't have to wait for paint to dry. We can just use the perforated strip that comes with the kits, doesn't matter if it looks ugly where it fits, if the strip is only 6" long, then that’s where it has to fit. Complies because it is secured. Lets not take the trims off to run the pipes and wires. This is much quicker, saved a day and half in labour. Hey how about that, managed to save £300 off the costs now. Wow, Selling the conversion for £400 less and only losing £100 on each one. Lets see if we can save some more and sell them for even less. I know, lets drop the price even more, hopefully we can get another 3 jobs a week then we can still make the same money and then buy that PS3. But what if we don't get 3 extra jobs a week? We are losing money but it takes longer to realise because we are all so busy trying to do more conversions. Then one day the business can't pay it's bills and a load more customers get stranded on holiday.

So what feedback do these customers give? Very little. They can't recommend these installers because they haven't had an enjoyable experience and now realise that they could have had something a lot better for just a little more outlay. They are too embassed to say they made a mistake and someone ripped them off. But did they? Or did the customer just get what he paid for?

Fortunately, not all installers operate like this. They are the guys that take pride in their work and provide their valued customers with good aftercare.

If your installer is vague about what he is going to do for you, doesn't want to explain what the system is, how it works and is anything but polite and courteous, why would you give them your money?
If they weren't in business 12 months ago, how do you know they will be in around in 12 months time?
If you travel a long way from home just to get a cheaper conversion, how many return journeys will it take to lose the initial saving? What is your time worth?

LPG Cars have customers from all over the country but not because we are the cheapest, most of the time it is because the local installer has the wrong attitude to his business and customers.

If you are an installer, raise your standards rather than cutting your prices. Show people you are a professional.

If you are a customer, can you afford lose the money you are about to spend? If you go with the lowest bidder, you are taking a gamble.
We are in a very small market but there is it seems always room for the unscrupulous to take advantage of the ill informed.

My intention is purely to assist those looking to invest in a gas conversion to get what they actually want and go with their eyes open.

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Torrington Avenue
Coventry
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024 7646 1199
www.lpg-cars.co.uk


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:10 pm 
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shoes anywhere from £2.99 up i'd say.

im not reading all that though, 4 lines is my max :lol:

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:40 pm 
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As my missus works in a shoe shop, I can answer that one! But, I have read it all through and it is an extremely well written post that sums things up nicely.

I suspect the main problem is that some people decide they want a conversion doing but don't do their homework first. They don't realise that there are many different kits that may or may not be suited to their car. Consequently they assume that all kits are the same, all cost the same from the same wholesaler and the extra that some installers charge is purely profit. At the end of the day, they are paying for something with the sole intention of saving them some money so why pay more in the first place? The fact that the extra 2 or 3 hundred that they spend will save them in the long run doesn't dawn on them.

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'96 Saab 900XS, AEB Leo, sold
'93 Range Rover 4.2 LSE, Lovato LovEco, sold
'98 Ex-Police Range Rover 4.0, Singlepoint AEB Leo, my daily motor
'97 Range Rover 4.0SE, eGas multipoint, a project.....

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:21 pm
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Location: Midlands
I'm sorry but this just strikes me as a shameless piece of marketing. I do however understand because we all get these calls in the industry. I know my 'hit rate' of turning enquiries into conversions. But I'm sorry LPG cars but I see myself as competitive 4 cyl 995, 6 cyl 1150, 8 cyl 1400. And I fit good quality Italian systems and my level of fit always exceeds cop 11. I always prime and spray brackets I have made from steel, everything is in conduit and I always put the biggest tank I can feasibly get in the space. So how do I do it ? I charge less labour that's how. Back in the day 15 or even 10 years ago I used to charge 1400 because I knew I was going to be seing these cars again and probably be looking for an airflow meter, inlet manifold or at bare minimum an airbox. That was what we where factoring in not the quality of the conversion. Mine has never changed, I don't cut corners and never have. But I don't see these cars ever again. I've not changed my phone number for 10 years. So please don't spout this outdated rubbish. A single hole tank torroidal or cylinder costs pretty much the same once you take into account the gas box, vent hose etc. If someone wants the filler colour coding I will if they supply the paint. All in the price.
And the customer will drive off into the sunset with 'bring it back in 10k miles or if you have any problems phone me' ringing in their ears and odds are they won't bother. The only ones I ever see back are people who fill up from older LPG tanks. And that's only ever filters and a couple of mins on the laptop. So whats the problem with charging less then ? Better that than paying wages while everyone makes the tea for each other. I'm not cutting my prices. That's what they have been for ages. But times are tough. People are looking for the best deal. They don't have any money either. It's quite simple really.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:09 pm 
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Your comments may be a little unfair Tubbs. As I understand it, from what you have posted on here, you are a one-man-band doing conversions almost as a paid hobby. You presumably have premises but without staff you don't have to pay them their wages (and employers National Insurance contributions) so the labour charges you make are wages for yourself and premises expenses alone. Even at minimum wage of £6 an hour, a single employee is going to cost you £48 a day. So on a 4 day conversion, you need to make at least £200 just to cover an employees wages unless, of course, you have no employees......

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'96 Saab 900XS, AEB Leo, sold
'93 Range Rover 4.2 LSE, Lovato LovEco, sold
'98 Ex-Police Range Rover 4.0, Singlepoint AEB Leo, my daily motor
'97 Range Rover 4.0SE, eGas multipoint, a project.....

Proud to be a member of the YCHJCYA2PDTHFH club.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:05 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:21 pm
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Location: Midlands
Ok i have simmered down again, on reflection maybe. And yes i do work alone and have no employees. But i have been there and been in the position of being an employer and i know all the costs involved. To be honest when i was in that situation i also did air conditioning, fuel injection and auto electrical work. Thats how to make it pay and to be honest, pay well. I used to make more money from my air con machine on a week by week basis for a part of the year than from gas conversions. The problem with this industry is that its a feast or famine kind of situation. You need other things to even it all out. Some people convert cars and sell them, cant see any money in that one. So the way i looked at it to be a gas converter (if you are any good at it) you have a great knowledge of fuel injection, auto electrics and air con certainly isnt rocket science is it ? connect up hoses press buttons, start it, smoke a fag, have a brew £60 hey presto job done ! You can even set it up so the companies are separate entities and have a load of fun with cross invoicing for jobs without looking like you are diluting your core business. Which has always been gas conversions for me personally.
But there are many companies out there that charge the same as me that have employees and rent and rates. Its just a factors business
at the end of the day. You cant really comment on the standard of work unless you have seen it. And you honestly cant say that all cars converted cheaper than £1400 are of a lower standard than one converted for £1100 or even £995 come to that. If the company charging £1100 has three gas conversions that week and you have one at £1400 who has made the most profit ? Its a factors business plain and simple.


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