If your shop is like many others, you probably have a coffee machine, bottles of water and maybe some snacks in the waiting area.
These are called ‘delighters’ — things that make your customer happier to be in your shop.
Some take it a step farther with free Wi-Fi, offering text message updates so they don’t have to bother with a phone call, vehicle inspections included with service and text-to-pay messaging.
Chris Cloutier, founder of autotext.me and co-owner of Golden Rule Auto Care described a customer’s typical reaction as, “Wow, this is cool. Not only can you all fix cars, not only are your people friendly and educate me, [but] this technology you all use is awesome. I’ve never got a digital inspection before. I’ve never got something on my phone that shows me so I can show my husband or my wife what’s going on in my car. This is so cool. I’ve never got a text message update to let me know that somebody is working my car. Usually, I got a call at three, four in the afternoon. A cup of coffee. Wow, that’s so cool. They got a Keurig.”
He knows of shops that order in fresh cookies every day. Customers who aren’t even having their vehicle service will stop in for one.
“That’s wonderful,” said Cloutier, who was speaking at the Midwest Auto Care Alliance’s Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo in Kansas City. “Those are delighters, those are the things that separate you from everybody else because they’re out of the ordinary.”
But here’s the rub: Those delighters soon become must-haves.
Take a loaner car that your shop may have. Cloutier asked: What is the first question from a customer who has used the loaner car when they’re back in your shop? They ask about getting the loaner car again. They expect you to have it again and that they can use it anytime they visit. You can’t take away that expectation. And if you don’t have it available, “you’re in a precarious situation,” Cloutier said during his session Managing Change in Your Shop.
“You just might have a broken process that you haven’t wanted to change that you need to think about.”
Coffee shops are a great example, Cloutier highlighted. Years ago, only some would have Wi-Fi, and that was a delighter. People would go to those coffee shops and spend more time — and money — there because of the Wi-Fi. But now every store has Wi-Fi. It’s no longer a delighter — it’s an expectation.
So that’s why it’s important for shops to constantly think about change. Shops need to adapt to consumer expectations and give them things that delight them.
And, Cloutier pointed out, it doesn’t need to be technology-driven.
“A lot of times people think, ‘Oh, I need new technology, new technology.’ No, no, no,” he said. “You just might have a broken process that you haven’t wanted to change that you need to think about.”
This shows your customers that you’re staying on top of things and that is good for business.
“It allows us to keep our businesses running smoothly and making money and profit,” Cloutier said.