Garages are becoming more transparent towards Car Owners
There are many recent reports about Servicing a Car and repair garages are ripping their customers off. I am not sure what these reports actually cover? Is it the one man band
operations, the larger independent garages or the main franchise dealers? Or are we all being “tarred with the same brush”.
I must admit though, no matter how you try in any trade, you will not please all of your customers and it depends how loud the disgruntled person is to how it may affect your garage. We can all try our best, but we are all going to get the “wrong customer at the wrong time”. I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing much you can do about these people, they probably have other issues that are affecting their personal lives and you are the one that they are taking it out of.
Garages should be aware of social media
Ten years ago we would have hit “a brick wall” with the customer that you just are not going to please whatever you do. I regard myself as a very calm person but when I have confronted some of these “raging” customers, then my blood has reached boiling point, and my blood pressure has hit the roof. I have built my garage and Business Plan on trust and have enjoyed customer loyalty beyond my wildest dreams. Over the years we have had whole families returning time and time again for their cars servicing and repairing.
Although it sounds like that we have many bad tempered and grumpy car owners, they are indeed far and few between, but when they come they can really hurt you. The big threat at the moment is to “expose “us on social media, especially on Facebook. This has happened once or twice now, but we just tell them to go ahead, we can defend ourselves and our reputation
and I am sure that other people who know them will be familiar with how they behave.
Although some of auto press appear to be concerned about the level of training that our mechanics or technicians receive, (whatever we like to call them), then I am not so sure. I think that the whole education of young people has been watered down in recent years here in the UK and this includes the colleges where our young mechanics start off. Some like to think that this is progress and a new way of education, but looking back over the years I do not think that the levels of quality, have not dropped very much, if any.
The difference is that our apprentices now receive on the job training and assessments, and in my own experience I think this works. I find that my staff will do the course work at home in their own time, without much prompting. I remember when I was an apprentice (in the dark ages) I had to go to night school classes and hated it, now everything is more relaxed, providing the youngster does do the work that we ask of them.
This brings me back to having to raging customer and to face the customer who may be out to get us. I firmly believe that part of all of staff training should be in customer care. These days the standards for caring for the customer and their cars have risen.
For young people who are just starting out in the garage trade and are starting their own business for perhaps the first time, should take this into consideration. Even if you are just a one man band or a mobile mechanic, you should look at some of my advice that I offer as a successful garage owner of Pellonautocentre for twenty five years.
What garages can do to cushion the aggression?
1: One of the most important things that you and the members of your staff should be trained in is the old chestnut of “meet and greet”. This is the first thing we teach any of our staff, and believe me people have to be taught this skill. Just a basic “yes sir/Madam, how can help you” will be just fine. Even if you have got a hangover or just argued with your wife, this is the very basic polite response that your customer deserves and of course a smile. This also applies to answering the telephone, never let the phone ring out, train your staff to answer it politely, until a senior member of staff can take the call.
2: Escort the customer to your reception/manager or whatever system your garage operates in. This is passing the customer onto the expert, who will help the customer with any advice or problem that they may have. Too many businesses do not take any time out to perform these basic tasks, they fly about with the customer in close pursuit trying to explain that they have a problem with their brakes. For my UK readers, (a good example of what not to do can be seen in the garage that Kev owns in Coronation Street). No time sorry too busy attitude, will not build you a successful garage business.
3: Once you have these basics in place then you are prepared for that monster customer, with his huge problem. I know that some of the bigger garages, such as main dealerships are trained to cope with these types of situations, but in general the small rage has to cope, whoever the unlucky member of staff is who has to deal with the matter. If you do not have a person who is trained to cope with these things, then you should take a deep breath and ask the disgruntled customer to step somewhere out of the way, (this may upset other customers, who may be waiting for your attention).
4: Keep calm and whatever the customer’s grievance may by do not take it personally. You must try to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, has he got a genuine reason to be
annoyed with your garage. Is the thing that is causing a dispute with your garage reasonable? We have been accused of scratching a car on a couple of occasions, we know we didn’t do it but have come to some sort of compromise and kept the customer’s business try to keep in a conversation and not a “slagging match”. Resolving the dispute with the Car Owners is your ultimate goal.
5: perhaps finally, if you feel that you are getting nowhere then “hit a brick wall “let the customer go away and think about what you may have offered them, or not. At this stage you may have lost the person as a customer anyway, but if you have been seen to try and resolve the situation, and then you have tried your best and move on to the rest of your day.
6: As the owner of the garage business I have learned over the years that you should not interfere in the reconciliation process and try find which member of your staff has got the correct attitude and presence of mind to deal with this type of dispute, I usually find that your manager is best capable to handle this, even if you have to give them some form of advice and training.
I also hope that nay advice that I give will help young and future garage owners to enjoy and succeed in their future Car Garage business. more reading…http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/unhappy-customers.htm
Pellon Tyre and Auto-centre offer Car Owners and van owners servicing and repairs to all makes of vehicles. We are members of Unipart Car Care centres and give a nationwide guarantee for all our work and parts. We also sell Budget car Tyres online from our website www.pellonautocentre.com by using the tyre selector and choosing your tyre size. We offer courtesy cars to local motorists who need to go to work and leave their car with us for work doing. We are also an official MOT testing station and are members of Motor-codes, who carry out checks for high standard of equipment and workmanship.