As a shop owner, you’re not only in the business of providing auto parts and labor for your customers – you’re also in the business of customer service. Depending on your location, there are likely several competing shops within a few miles of your own. Your customers already expect repair results, so your level of service is what sets you apart. Great customer service is what keeps your customers coming back for every auto service, attracts new customers and allows your business to grow year after year. You might provide the most thorough auto services in town, but if you don’t devote time and care to customer satisfaction, you’re likely to receive negative online reviews and lose business to your competitors. Here are a few simple tips and reminders to help your shop gain a stellar reputation and win over loyal, lifelong customers:
The “10/5 Rule”
Making your customers feel welcome takes only seconds, but makes a huge impact on their overall experience. There’s a common hospitality principle called the “10/5 Rule” that’s very easy to follow – any time a member of your staff is within 10 feet of a customer, that customer should be acknowledged with a warm smile and direct eye contact. When a staff member is within 5 feet of a customer, a sincere greeting should accompany that smile and eye contact. Examples are as simple as “Good morning!” or “Have you been helped yet?”
No matter how busy you are, simply saying “Hi there, I’m John. Thanks for your patience – I’m finishing up a job and will be right with you!” makes a world of difference to a customer who would otherwise be left feeling ignored and unacknowledged.
Make your space welcoming
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If we’re being honest, everyone knows that auto repairs are, at best, an inconvenience or, at worst, a large and unexpected expense. Think of it like visiting the doctor or dentist – no one really wants to go. Customers don’t mind waiting as much when they feel welcomed and comfortable. You don’t need to have a large, state-of-the-art waiting area to achieve this. Set out some complimentary refreshments – coffee, tea, soft drinks, etc. Snacks like apples or cookies are always a great idea, too. WiFi is practically a must-have these days, and parents will appreciate things like small toys or coloring books for children.
These things may seem like a given, but if a customer has a choice between two shops in a similar price range – one with amenities that make them feel comfortable and one without – which do you think they’ll choose?
Make your value known
Your customers may feel a sense of unease or mistrust toward the auto repair industry. They may be stressed about the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars on a repair. This is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate the value and importance of your services. When going over an estimate with a customer, be prepared to explain why a service costs $500 – the reason they need it, the parts and labor that go into it, and why it’s an investment that will increase the life of their vehicle. Instead of just presenting a big $500 price-tag, help your customers understand that by getting this service they are reducing the risk of a more-costly future breakdown and gaining the peace of mind that comes with dependable, safe transportation.
On a similar note, rather than using the word “free,” which can come across as “unimportant” or “not valuable,” tell your customers that a service is “no charge.” This sends a message that there is a definite value to the service, and you’re simply setting the cost aside. You might also consider printing the normal price of the “no-charge service” on a customer’s invoice, with the “amount due” voided. This is a simple and subtle way to let your customers know the value behind what you do.
Auto service shops of any size can benefit from following these suggestions. Check back in soon for more tips and tricks to improve customer service in your shop!