In this issue, SSGM Magazine reports on the ever-insightful J.D. Power and Associates annual customer satisfaction survey. I won't bother going into the details, as I know all of our readers will take...
In this issue, SSGM Magazine reports on the ever-insightful J.D. Power and Associates annual customer satisfaction survey. I won’t bother going into the details, as I know all of our readers will take the time to read the analysis we have provided. Instead, I would like to touch upon an issue that has come up several times over the years in conversations I have had with shop owners and with other analysts about how we in the industry deal with customers; something that has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and our future success.
In November, Murray Voth of TACT, will highlight what I think is one of the greatest problems we have with customers, that we are often too afraid of them and our fear causes us too often to undercharge for work or to give away work for free. What J.D. Power annually highlights is customer satisfaction is based on a matrix of several factors, one of which is the honesty of the shop owner and his technicians in diagnosing vehicle problems and charging for the subsequent work. Now let’s zero in on the key insight: this honesty is not about discounting or giving work away for free. Customer satisfaction is not influenced by any of those two things. What customers want is a clear explanation of what needs to be done, a set of options and an honest appraisal of the cost that has to be paid to do the work right the first time. Do that, along with the proper investments in technician and service writer training and you have a winning combination when combined with the other factors that keep customers coming back.
So why do we too often indulge in such things as discounting work, offering underpriced oil changes or not charging for diagnostic work? Murray Voth gets to the heart of the matter. It is fear of the customer. We are too afraid that if we honestly charge for the work to be done we will see the back of our customer and the vehicle driven or towed somewhere else. Instead of charging $328 for the work, we instead charge $299 thinking that will keep the customer happy and coming back. It might, except that we are now scrambling to make up that lost revenue somewhere else. It may not seem like a lot, but over time and several hundred repairs and maintenance jobs later, the loss is substantial.
Let’s be honest. We have nothing to fear from our customers. They will not walk out the door if you charge them that $328 as long as you explain what each step in the job costs. Even charging for diagnostic work is something that can be explained to them. Diagnostics is something that requires a skilled technician to do and to correctly interpret the codes so as to recommend the right course of action. It is not something anyone can do and you have to charge accordingly. Trust me they will understand. If not, ask them this. Could they walk into their dentist’s office and have an examination and then walk out without paying for that consultation, no matter how minor that examination was? The same goes for electricians. Like dentists, they are professionals and experts in what they do. If you call them they will charge you for diagnosing your electrical problem and outlining an appropriate fix. Well, we are experts as well and we should charge accordingly and honestly for that expertise. Customers do understand that. You are doing no favours to your business or your customers by underselling your work and knowledge.