Learning From Others’ Mistakes
By understanding customers’ previous bad experiences, you can build positive long-lasting relationships.
Read the results of any ‘least trusted profession’ poll and mechanics usually make it to the top 10. Last time I checked, we were up there with lawyers, telemarketers, and realtors. Clearly there are a lot of people getting treated the wrong way for us to make the list. The good news is that you can readily stand out and change your client’s negative experiences.
Have you heard this before? A woman says that she feels taken advantage of by her mechanic because she’s a woman and doesn’t know anything about cars. What she doesn’t see is that a dishonest technician will take advantage of men who know just as little. It’s a question of that technician’s integrity and honesty. When we talk about that reality with our female clients, they are less defensive because they understand it’s not a problem with them, it’s an issue with that dishonest technician. And because the problem lies with a dishonest technician, the solution is for them to find an honest shop, which means there’s an opportunity for you to build a relationship with these clients. I point to our online testimonials and say, “I can understand why you’re looking for another shop, and our clients have had a great experience with us. Try us out and see how you feel about our service.”
New clients will often tell us about bad experiences at other shops, and there’s a lot of information we can use from that. For example, if I hear that they didn’t get their car back on time, I will be mindful to give them updates through the day about the status of their car. If they tell me they got a surprise repair bill, I remind them that the oil change includes an inspection and they can expect a call from me to go over the inspection report before we proceed with any repairs. If I hear that the job wasn’t done right the first time, I’ll go over our parts and labour warranty when I provide them with the estimate. Even if it’s perceived as small talk, are you intentional with the information given so you can “wow” them with your client service?
Encourage the Budget
Talk I’ve had women sheepishly tell me that they need to discuss the estimate with their husband, as if to say that they don’t want to make the decision alone. When I hear that, I reply very honestly that it’s a good thing! Auto repair is part of the family budget, and it should be an open discussion, especially if it’s going to be a big repair. Maybe they came from a shop that brushed clients off who said they wanted to hold off on repairs because they needed to talk to their spouse. Those shops might have been disappointed that they didn’t get the authorization right away, but that’s a very short-term way of thinking about client relationships. Let your clients know you understand that auto repair costs impact a family budget and they’ll see you as a partner in keeping their vehicles running smoothly. I’m the first to admit I’ve lost many clients over the years. Who knows, maybe one of your clients is a former one of mine. Let’s continue towards excellent client service and turn negative experiences around for our clients as well as our shops!