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The Un-assured Motorist - - - Trust and confidence


Gonzo

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The Unassured Motorist

You’re driving down the road when all of a sudden the check engine light comes on. The car begins to sputter, cough, and nearly dies. You find yourself in need of a good mechanic, so you decide to make a few phone calls. But which one? Who can you trust?

Motorist should be cautious when trying out a new mechanic, even recommended ones. The reasons for being cautious are as varied as the car problems themselves. It’s not like you can go to good ol’ dad for the repairs. Things are bit different than they were just a few decades ago.

Back then the car manufacturers built the cars and good ol’ dad kept it running by tinkering on the family car in the drive way. Every conceivable part was available at the corner parts store, and since most everything was rather simple, dad could tackle just about any job.

Very seldom did the car go to a regular repair shop, unless you had one of those dads who didn’t work on cars. By the time the computer age came along, good ol’ dad had met his match. Things were getting too complicated for the average guy to work on the family truckster. More and more parts were dealer only with a no return policy, so taking guesses at the repair could affect the family budget. (But we all know good ol’ dad never, ever guessed at a repair.)

The computer age might have done more for the mechanic and consumer relationships than just changes in the automotive world. Now, it’s not good ol’ dad fixing the car, but some stranger at a repair shop, and some of the motoring public may not be too sure the guy with the big tool box knows what he’s doing. It’s that lack of assurance in the mechanic’s abilities which can hold back a lot of repairs at the shop. (Of course, we never questioned good ol’ dad’s qualifications). More to the point, qualifications are important, but the repair shop has an even bigger responsibility of reassuring the motoring public that they can do the job.

Sooner or later, every repair shop and mechanic will encounter an unassured motorist. They’ll question the cost, perhaps ask how long the shop has been in business, or maybe (very rarely) ask to see their credentials. It’s important that there is a trust established between the shop and the unassured motorist. This ultimately comes down to how you (the service guy) answer their concerns and how comfortable the motorist feels with the answers. Otherwise, the shop loses out at the intersection of lost work and bad reviews, because the damage done from an unassured motorist may never be fully repaired.

For some, the mere thought of paying someone too “look” at the car is enough to send them back out the door. Good ol’ dad never charged them for looking at the car, so why should this guy with the expensive scanner? It might be a carry-over from years gone by when mechanics were more grease than data signals. I’m not sure. Thankfully, the old stereotypical vision of a mechanic is slowly disappearing as the sophistication of the modern car increases.

Sometimes just a single word can break down the newly found trust with the service center. Things like, “no warranty”, “obviously, you don’t understand”, or “your problem sounds expensive”. To the motorist who is unsure about a repair shop, certain phrases just might be the tipping point to leaving their car or leaving with their car.

Keep in mind, they have questions, too. “Have you seen this type of problem before?” They’re not just asking if the shop is familiar with the problem, they’re asking if they’ve fixed this kind of problem before. (Hmm, never asked ol’ dad that question.)

Of course, if they’ve already self-diagnosed their problem, and the mechanic is trying to interject with their own “over the counter” diagnostics, it may inadvertently cause even more confusion.
Sometimes, the unassured motorist can be even less sure of the repair shop’s abilities after a repair or diagnosis. Especially if the diagnostic results are something they’re not familiar with or have never heard of before. For instance, the mechanic tells the motorist their alternator is bad, but they’ve never seen the warning light on the dash stay on. Even though the mechanic goes over the test results and describes the problem thoroughly, there’s still some doubt.

Being too technical, or not technical enough is a fine line between understanding and disbelief. It’s still a question of trust. The best bet for the repair shop is to give the unassured motorist the most honest answer they can give and try to answer their question as best as possible.

But, that’s not all. There are thousands of unrelated reasons why someone would favor one shop to another. It may come down to those political protest posters the boss left behind the counter, or the location of the shop, maybe your religious affiliation, or it could be something about the shop decor.

So what are the best ways of helping the unassured motorist become assured? What makes it work at one shop may not work at all for the shop down the street. The best thing we can do is to treat everyone fairly and with respect on both sides of the service counter. Regardless of where they come from, or what their political and social beliefs are.

Repair shops need customers, customers need repair shops, and they both need assurance from time to time. All it takes is a bit of understanding and confidence … and maybe a bit of reassurance once in a while.


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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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