In an earlier blog we discussed ways to make your auto repair shop waiting room more comfortable. Many of our readers have submitted pictures of their waiting rooms to show other members of the Automotive Management Network the improvements they’ve made on behalf of their customers – and their own bottom line. Here we will talk about other measures that can impact customer mood and comfort while your customers are waiting for their vehicles to be fixed or serviced.
Customer Mood Affects Satisfaction
Customer’s subjective opinions will impact any kind of service business. That can’t be avoided. What affects customer satisfaction? Well, to begin with, price, and, after that, how well and how quickly your shop repairs their cars. Those are things they can measure and compare to other shops.
Other things factor in just as much, however – things like how positive their experiences are with your staff and what kind of mood they are in. A good auto shop manager can control for positive experiences with staff through vetting and training of employees, but customer mood is trickier. What happens if someone walks in having a terrible day? How likely is it they will walk out satisfied even if your staff does everything perfectly? Will they return for more service? How will they talk about your auto shop to other people if they leave your shop still in a bad mood?
Fortunately, there are ways to positively affect the mood of your customers while they are in your shop. Here are some we would recommend:
Keep your facility clean. Staff should keep everything in the shop clean and organized. Dirt and mess affects their mood and productivity as well, and that’s important. However, it’s essential that every area that the public has access to be tidy and well maintained – especially the restroom. If they see grime, outdated magazines, and clutter, they will assume you don’t value your shop and they will extrapolate that to you not valuing them. If they think they’ll pick up germs in your shop and get sick from them, they will not be comfortable, and they’ll blame that discomfort on you. This may not be fair, but feelings aren’t fair.
Put out books and displays rather than magazines. People take better care of books than they do magazines, and you can control the content of the books you select better than you can the magazines you subscribe to. Choose books that have either uplifting subjects or are of local interest and have plenty of interesting pictures. People like reading stories or looking at pictures of pets, other animals, and plants. It makes them feel happy. Happy is good.
Control what’s on the television. If your shop has a TV playing in the waiting room, do not turn the channel to networks that runs programming designed to play on people’s emotions and make them angry, scared, or upset. The nature channel is a better alternative to any news network any day. Do not give your customers the opportunity to fight over what they get to watch either. That’s just asking for conflict and resentment which is the opposite of what you want in your waiting room.
Paint your waiting room in calming colors. Have your art and furniture match the colors of your walls and floor. Which colors are most soothing? Professional painters recommend using these in combination:
Dampen the noise. Auto shops are noisy places, and loud noises make people feel more stressed out. Playing calming music or adding a splashing fountain can help drown out squeals and screeching in the background and stop customers from wondering if that sound came from their car.
While none of the above methods are guaranteed to turn anyone’s day from a zero to a ten, if you can subtly improve the mood of your customers while they wait for your staff to finish with their vehicles, they are more likely to have better interactions with your staff, extend more trust, report more satisfaction, and come back to your shop when their car has other issues.
Has your auto repair shop made specific efforts to make its waiting room a calmer and happier place? Have these changes affected customer mood? We’d love to hear your ideas and experiences. Please share them with our membership either here or on our forums.