Many auto repair shops experience periodic customer increases, often seasonally: the summer spike, spring repairs, and others. Which is great, right? Yes and no. While it’s always good to see more business, if your auto shop is unprepared for it or manages it badly, you may actually lose regular customers over the long run.
Most auto shop managers can handle a small influx of customers by just powering through, working longer hours, or calling in additional staff. The problems begin when that rush extends beyond a few days. This is the point at which managers stop riding the wave, so to speak, and just start hanging on to the board for dear life. Getting repairs done and out the door becomes the only goal, and anything beyond that – recommendations for additional service, technician inspections, and shop walkarounds – stops.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some ways to better juggle customer spikes so they result in real growth – and not harm – your business.
Maintain shop procedure – Your auto shop should have an established procedure of service that is always followed by your staff in order to ensure consistency and quality control. If it does not, creating one should be your first priority. When your staff knows and understands your expectations of them, it’s easier for them to conform to them. During peak service times it is even more important to stick to procedure because that will be what stops your employees from cutting service corners when they feel temporarily overwhelmed.
Do not overbook – Remember: quality over quantity. In the very short term, more business is more money for the shop, but if your shop does not have the resources to handle the additional cars, your customers will realize, in short order, that they are not getting your best work, and they will not come back. Tell your sales advisor or scheduler to be realistic and not cave to pressure to book more work than your shop can do and do well.
Preview the work scheduled for the day – Before the start of the day, ideally even the night before, have your manager go over what is scheduled to be done for each customer and make sure the paperwork necessary is already filled out. If this is done ahead of time, your service advisors will be less rushed and will be able to make additional recommendations to customers based on their service histories and the actual needs of their vehicles.
Review the work done each day – Being prepared is crucial, but so is evaluating performance as it happens. If your manager knows what should have been done or what could have been done, it’s much simpler to compare that to what was done immediately after the fact and make adjustments as necessary. A regular review of customer service will help address weaknesses before they can become real problems.
Don’t let a seasonal rush damage your shop’s performance or reputation. By implementing and/or following the above steps, you can see short term increases in business become real growth for your auto repair shop, and you will see new customers become repeat customers.