By Frank Scandura
We have all heard the three things needed in real estate for success are location, location, location. The same can be said for successful automotive repair. Think verify, verify, verify.
The most common statement from new customers that have been to other shops for repairs is, “I paid so-and-so, but they did not fix it.” We often ask “Did anyone drive it with you?”
Answer: “No, why?”
“Well to experience the problem under the same conditions as you do” is our short answer.
Take the time to verify the customer concern. Have you ever fixed a noise only to be told by the customer that “the noise I paid you to fix is still there?”
If it’s a noise, performance problem or climate control failure, the rules are the same. Take the time to verify what the customer is experiencing.
To the customer, the AC not being cold during our summer heat may be all the information they think we need. We need to know does the blower work correctly? Is the airflow working correctly? Is it in the heat of the day only, or all the time? And so on. Only by taking the time to verify what’s actually going on will you be in a position to correctly repair the car. Ascertain the customer concern, determine the cause and ask the customer for permission to perform the correction.
We have heard of reports of, “My check engine light is on, so-and-so replaced the spark plugs, but the light is still on. But they don’t really work on my kind of car.” A little time spent testing would show the reason the light is on, and that all the spark plugs in the world won’t fix it.
The best service you can provide for your customers is to be upfront about the areas of expertise you possess. We all need to do our part to be professional. Our industry gets enough attention on its own. There are many, many sources available to us for training. I know, some may think “What if I send an employee for training and they leave?” There is only one thing worse; not training an employee who stays.
Here are some suggestions to help. Stop working on vehicles you’re not familiar with, or for which you don’t have the correct equipment to allow comprehensive testing and programming. Focus on cars you like, invest in training and equipment to stand apart from others. You’ll make more money and have a happier customer if you specialize in two or three car lines, none of us can specialize in all cars.
Find a reputable shop that you can send the cars that you don’t like working on. The car will be fixed better, and the customer will be happy. Remember, reputable is not cheap, you can’t always do it right and do it cheap.
This article was contributed by Frank Scandura, the owner of two of the most successful, state-of-the art, green shops in North America, and one of the coaches who offers shop owners 1-on-1 guidance through the Elite Coaching Program.