How to Build Trust in Your Auto Shop: Part Two

In the long-awaited sequel to our first blog on building trust, we’re continuing the conversation on ways you can establish trust in your shop! By building a foundation of trust with your customers through education, you’re more likely to keep their business, increase your sales, and create a lasting happy customer.

Trust Thrives on Customer Education

Whether you know it or not, most of the distrust in auto shops stems from a lack of understanding or knowledge about the services at hand. If your customer doesn’t know why they need a service or even what it is, they’re putting ALL of their trust in your word as the expert. While that’s great for the shop, it can be terrifying to lose all control as the customer. To show that your shop cares about customers actually understanding their vehicle, consider a few ways to educate them:

1. Speak their language. This is a big one. Think about how you might explain the repair to a 10 year old.

    For example, if you’re trying to explain to a customer why their newer vehicle needs routine carbon cleaning service due to a buildup of carbon on the valves in the cylinder head because of the way direction injection is spraying directly into the cylinder as opposed to over the top of the valve, simplify it by relating it to something they’re familiar with, like seeing the dentist. While they may take very good care of their teeth by brushing daily with fluoride toothpaste, there’s going to be a slow buildup of plaque that the tooth brush doesn’t reach. In this example, the plaque is like carbon and you’re like their dentist. If the plaque isn’t removed on a routine basis, your teeth will slowly decay. In the case of their automobile, excess carbon buildup will cause the engine to have hard starts, reduced performance, and poor fuel economy.

    When you break it down, be careful to avoid any condescending language and have patience with your customer. Also, you always need to keep your audience in mind. Often times a Euro or performance shop will have a more savvy customer base, while general repair shops may have more inexperienced drivers. Remember: you know your customers best!

2. Offer free (or inexpensive) automotive classes to your community.

Holding an event like this is great way to show dedication to your community while fostering a base layer of trust that gets customers returning to your shop. Here are a few ideas on what you can share:

  • Tire Safety & Care: How to check tire pressure; Putting a spare tire on; Checking your tire tread wear; Tire brand comparisons; Sidewall bubble on tires (Speaking from experience, I had no clue how dangerous this was until a shop told me!)
  • Collision Shop Specialties: Safe and unsafe “over-the-counter” remedies for scratch repair; Car detailing techniques; Vehicle paint jobs 101; Restoration as a hobby; What to do in the event of an accident
  • General Maintenance: How to know if you need an oil change, fluid top-off, headlight cleaning, windshield wiper replacement, etc.; Having the check engine light scanned & diagnosed properly
  • Roadside Tips: What to do when your car battery dies; How to safely jump-start your car; Tools to keep in your car for emergencies
  • Female-Friendly Class: Although any of these classes would be open to women, sometimes learning in a male-dominated space (and industry) can be intimidating. Hosting a female-focused class can be especially valuable if you have a female technician or team member who can teach it!

3. Show them what’s wrong with their vehicle.

    When possible, consider taking the customer behind the scenes to show them what’s going on with their vehicle. Or you could bring a worn/faulty part up to the desk and compare it to a brand new one. These visuals can be proof that “seeing is believing” for your customers. If you’re willing to show what needs work, customers are more likely to trust in your service and appreciate your skills.

    As a prime example, one of my own experiences was with a local shop that found my purge valve was malfunctioning and triggering my check engine light. I can’t promise that I know what the purge valve does, but the shop owner walked me back to my vehicle to point out the purge valve and explain what was happening. This was my first time going back into the garage. Just seeing my car up on the lift, all 4 wheels off, hood propped open – I instantly had a much bigger appreciation for the work involved to simply “check” on my car.

At the end of the day, education is one of the most significant components in building trust with your customers. If they have an understanding, even a basic one, of what you’re doing (and what they’re paying for), you’ll see a massive improvement in their overall happiness. If you’ve tried any of these methods before, or have others we should add, comment and let us know! We may end up with a Part Three coming your way.

Written by Joel Fogleman

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