In the book “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” author Simon Sinek argues that customers don’t buy what companies do, they buy why they do it.
Sinek cites Sam Walton and the early days of Walmart as an example. In 1950, Walton opened a dime store in Bentonville, AR. Although he enjoyed moderate success, Walton wanted more. He was inspired by the concept that he saw discount retailers employing — driving more revenue through lower prices. With this in mind, Walton opened the first Walmart in 1962 in the town of Rogers, AR, as a way to sell affordable goods to those in his rural community.
The difference with Walton’s store from that of his competitors was that he went out of his way to create an atmosphere where people, and not just profits, mattered. Walton believed that if he took care of his employees and his customers, they would take care of him.
In “Sam Walton: Made in America,” Walton summarized this belief: “The way management treats the associates is exactly how the associates will then treat the customers. Satisfied, loyal, repeat customers are the heart of Walmart’s spectacular profit margins, and those customers are loyal to us because our associates treat them better than salespeople in other stores do.”
This people-first philosophy helped Walmart go from that single store in 1962 to the nation’s largest retailer at the time of Walton’s death 30 years later.
Walmart wasn’t the first discount store. Their marketing wasn’t revolutionary, they offered the same products as everybody else, and they weren’t always the cheapest. The difference in their success was that they excelled at selling why they were doing what they were doing — to better people’s lives through affordable goods provided with exceptional customer service.
This same lesson can be applied to the auto repair industry.
Every repair shop has access to the same parts, the same training, the same marketing tools, and offers virtually the same services as every other shop does. So why do some shops always seem to have a line of customers coming through the door while others can’t seem to gain any sustainable traction?
The answer is simple: People frequent businesses where they feel employees come to work with a genuine desire to serve their best interests.
Consider this: According to a recent AAA survey, 63 percent of U.S. drivers said they generally do not trust auto repair shops. These respondents cited recommendations for unnecessary service, overcharges and negative past experiences as the main reasons for their poor perception of the industry. The same survey found that one-third (36 percent) of U.S. drivers have been unable to find an area shop that they trust with their vehicle.
The takeaway is that drivers all across the country are searching for an auto repair shop they can put their faith into. Make sure that when area customers come into yours, they leave knowing why they should return.
As Sam Walton once famously said, “There is only one boss — the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else.”