Automotive repair shops should have a checklist of items to go over before handing the keys back to the customer.
Failure to do so can result in an unhappy customer who may not return to your shop, warned two industry leaders.
Chris Cloutier, shop owner and founder of Autoflow, compared the experience to a restaurant forgetting to include fries or utensils in a drive-through order. A shop forgetting to clean a grease stain or put a new oil change sticker on the vehicle is just as frustrating to the customer. Whether the mistake is at a restaurant or auto shop, it’s something that isn’t generally noticed until well after the customer has left the premises.
“We get pissed off at the fast food place but we believe in our own auto repair shops that we shouldn’t have some sort of practice that we follow every time for that quality control,” Cloutier said during the recent webinar, Quality Control as a New Year’s Resolution.
Quality control should be part of every customer’s visit to your shop to enhance the relationship, explained Craig O’Neill, vice president of training at Autoflow.
“We know this is a relationship business,” he said. “And we know that it breaks relationships when things go wrong. That trust is nullified.”
Going back to Cloutier’s drive-through example — which, he said, just about everyone has experienced — O’Neill asked whether you’d leave a bad review of the business or quietly go elsewhere if this type of mistake is made.
“I leave a bad review and I stop frequenting the place,” Cloutier answered. “It’s just our human nature because we feel that, after a while, you just can’t get it right.”
“Everybody’s heart sinks when we see that customer, who just got the keys, walk back in five minutes later.”
Whether it’s a restaurant forgetting to include a fork or a shop leaving a tool in the vehicle, these behaviours annoy customers. Do it often enough and to enough customers, they don’t bother coming back — and even leave a bad review for you.
“These are all the things that we don’t realize that we do to customers; that just drives them insane,” Cloutier said. “And we have to apologize profusely. But all it takes is a process, a little bit of extra care for us to make sure that that customer leaves in better condition.”
Think about what it costs to keep an existing customer versus acquiring a new one, he added. You’ve spent a lot of money to get that customer in your shop and a simple error can chase them away. Now you have to invest that money again to gain another.
“So is it really costing you that much to go out to walk around the car, start it up, make sure all the lights are off, make sure this oil change sticker [is there], make sure the tools are gone, just do a quick check over the work — is that really costing you?”
And every service advisor has experienced the dread of seeing a customer walk back through the doors moments after they first paid the bill and left.
“A client never leaves your shop and walks back in three minutes later to say ‘High five! Great job!’” Cloutier pointed out. “Everybody’s heart sinks when we see that customer, who just got the keys, walk back in five minutes later. Because you know [and] the service advisors [think], ‘Oh crap, what did we not do?”