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Does the building really matter?


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I'm going to start off by saying my major competitor has a nice big building. The kind like big franchises put up, and my building is more like the one the little guy has. My 2 techs that came from my competitor keep telling me that down there they get more of the white collar worker, were we are getting more of the blue collar worker.

 

I have been a blue collar worker all my life and I'm proud that I have the blue collar work coming here. My problem here is this is a big farming, logging and manufacturing area, and many of these guys can fix their own stuff. For example probably 8 out of every 10 alignments has bad parts. We do a quote for the customer and inform them of the bad parts and I would say about 5 out of those 8 with bad parts will take it home or to their buddies and replace them their selves.

 

So I ask you does the building really matter on your customer base? I'm starting to get to the point I believe it.

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"So I ask you does the building really matter on your customer base? I'm starting to get to the point I believe it."

 

Yes it does, but not in the way you think.

 

The shop should be clean, neat, and well organized. The greatest value I have generated was by taking old neglected buildings and giving them a facelift.

 

But it is more than that, I have no artistic ability, so I hired qualified professionals to do the re-designs and color schemes. You would be surprised what fresh paint can do with the right color scheme.

 

Next, it is the vocabulary your people use when dealing with customers. This takes discipline and practice,practice, practice.

 

For example, get them to stop saying "no problem" when they do something for the customer. Always have them say "my pleasure", "glad to", "happy to" etc., you get the idea.

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I think the cars in the lot dictate what you will see next. If the lot is full of rusted out trailblazers and grand am's you know who the next customer is. I'm not advising turning away ugly cars but park the newer nicer cars in a more prominent place and kind of hide the junk. When people drive by and they see new cars being worked on they feel comfortable bringing in their new car. Junk attracts junk, and usually people that drive junk don't value the same things you might, like your time.

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  • 1 month later...

I agree with all that has been said above,

 

In addition to that I will say that the building is communicating something that your service writer needs to do his best to communicate when and if he can.

 

When you go to a restaurant that cooks your meal improperly you can tell the instant you put it in your mouth that the service was poor. When you pay a law firm to write the terms to your contracts to protect your business legally you hope that your service wasn't poor; but you will only know if ever there is legal action against you, so in reality you may never know.

 

Most people don't speak the language of auto mechanics and they are screaming for some reason to believe that they are being taken care of. That big fancy building is playing a part in communicating that. If people can be educated that what I have done was the best way to do it or that I found extra problems and fixed them better than the last guy or that I used better parts or something along those lines then they always pay my high rates and say, "thank you for doing it right."

 

If that can be communicated then they will come back forever.

 

If you get a big fancy building then you eliminate your competitive advantage and paint yourself into a corner with high overhead. Just be honest and make sure that your customers feel that honesty every time they come in. Take care of them with a smile when they have warranty issues and they will send all their friends.

 

If I can say one more thing it would be to increase rates if necessary. Often times people believe that if they are paying less then they are getting less and that if they are paying a lot then the service must be good. If you are doing good work you ought to be making good money. People will see those rates and expect good service rather than sub-par service.

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I think the looks of a business do have an impact on the business. We have an older building that doesn't look like its falling apart but also hasn't had new paint, new sign etc in 15+ years. In the last few weeks we have updated our waiting room for the 2nd time in the last 3-4 years. My thoughts were that a nicer inside were a great selling point (obviously customer service, work quality etc are #1). Thursday we had a regular customer for years come in and she commented on how she liked the updates. She also add that some time back she had recommended our shop to a friend of hers who was having car issues. She said she told him to come and that we would fix it, do it right and at a reasonable cost. She said that he drove by our shop and called her back to tell her he would not be taking his car to our shop because the place looked old, outdated and just didn't sit well with him. (To clarify, our shop is not dirty or run down or overloaded with "junk"). Luckily she told him he couldn't judge a book by its cover and that it was the quality of service and the staff that mattered not the look of a building. She said he decided to give it a chance and after the service called her back to tell her how right she was and that he would keep coming back.

 

To me this just confirmed for years what I was wondering and asking myself. We don't own our building and are on a month to month lease (for over 20 years) because the landlord does not want to sign a long term lease so we are hesitant to put money into the outside because we saw no real return and was afraid it could end up being a waste if next month we were asked to leave. However; now I am looking into options to getting a fresh coat of paint and a new sign installed. I think it could be a much needed update and could offer a ROI.

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I have to say no to this because our place is small amd hidden and we cater to exclusive clientele. It is my advertising and marketing as well as my focus on quality that dictates who comes in. I also vet all my customers and convert price shoppers. I will tell someone if price is their first concern we may not be the place for the. That being said we do keep the place neat and updated and the building while small, and hidden, is less then ten years old.

 

As far as location, people have to drive past 80 repair shops conveniently located in town, through a ton of awful construction out to the middle of no where to get to us. Even with the construction slowing down every business around us we are holding steady. Even the GM dealer next to us is struggling.

 

The most important thing for us has been to make sure every car is perfect before it leaves and if there is ever a problem to write a check and fix it. I had a customer toast an engine we rebuilt once. I asked no questions, bought him an LKQ reman on the spot. He has continued to come back and refer people and I got that investment back 3 fold.

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I have to say no to this because our place is small amd hidden and we cater to exclusive clientele. It is my advertising and marketing as well as my focus on quality that dictates who comes in. I also vet all my customers and convert price shoppers. I will tell someone if price is their first concern we may not be the place for the. That being said we do keep the place neat and updated and the building while small, and hidden, is less then ten years old.

 

As far as location, people have to drive past 80 repair shops conveniently located in town, through a ton of awful construction out to the middle of no where to get to us. Even with the construction slowing down every business around us we are holding steady. Even the GM dealer next to us is struggling.

 

The most important thing for us has been to make sure every car is perfect before it leaves and if there is ever a problem to write a check and fix it. I had a customer toast an engine we rebuilt once. I asked no questions, bought him an LKQ reman on the spot. He has continued to come back and refer people and I got that investment back 3 fold.

 

Congrats! That speaks loud and clear that your customers have found you a very valuable resource, you have managed to master developing productive relationships. Kudos to you!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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