Building trust among your customers is essential for any auto repair shop. The considerable effort it takes to recruit a talented and reliable labor force and market to your community will be wasted if people get suspicious when they talk to your counter staff or service advisors.
The sad fact is that the general public doesn’t understand the complexities of auto repair. They don’t know all of the expenses that go into running a profitable shop, from labor to parts to compliance with environmental regulation, so when the bill comes, many people eye it with some suspicion because fixing cars right costs money that they now must pay.
Also, it’s an unfortunate fact that, as in any industry or profession, there are exploitative auto repair shops. For some people, one bad car repair experience will evaporate more trust than can be gained over years of positive interactions. Therefore, it’s important to avoid any red-flag behaviors that will cause a customer’s doubt and distrust to surface. What kinds of behaviors are these?
Empty parking lot and idle staff – People will assume that a business without customers is a dying one, and they will wonder what is wrong with it. While it’s true that any business will experience periods that are slower and you can’t drag people in off the street to fill the chairs in your waiting room, your staff should look busy and useful at all times if you want your customers to believe that your auto repair shop’s services are in demand and worth the price you are charging for them.
Recommending services unrelated to the problem – When a customer brings in her car for an oil change and wiper replacements, the last thing she expects to happen is to be told her car needs new shock absorbers or a brake job. While mechanics see overlooked maintenance all of the time and catch problems in desperate need of repair, it’s always best to explain in detail what is wrong and why it’s come to the attention of the mechanic. Otherwise this customer will get suspicious and think she’s getting taken for a ride.
Defensiveness when asked for further details about repairs – Your employees should be able to understand and explain everything on the estimate with fluency. Train your service advisors and all other staff to approach questions as calmly and reasonably as possible and to sidestep arguments and de-escalate situations. An angry or defensive staff person acts as a red flag not just to that customer, but anyone else who is observing as well.
One of the harder parts about selling automotive service is that customers need their vehicles to manage their lives, but they do not understand how they work or what costs go into fixing them. This is why having people who are good communicators on staff at your shop is so vital and why putting policies and procedures in place for dealing with customers is so vital. Missteps in this area can quickly dissipate trust and cost your shop real money.