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You Want Fries With That? - - This hurry up pace, get it done now, then ask for more world we live in


Gonzo

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tp.gifI often wonder if some people think car repair is like a 
fast food drive up restaurant.  They must be thinking it is, 
because it’s the only way to explain their actions and 
questions at the front desk. I’ve even had people pull in 
front of the shop or right in front of a bay door 
(blocking any progress I was making) and expect me to do
whatever it is right then and there.  
 
tp.gifWhere in the history of auto repair did this ever get started?  
 
tp.gifSome of these “hurry-up-get-done-now” people just don’t get it.  They seriously think there is a magical scanner that will not only diagnose, but also repair their car in 15 minutes or less.  Now, I pride myself on diagnosing most problems within a given time period, usually 10 minutes or less, to no more than 45 minutes for some stubborn type problems.  If it takes longer than 45 minutes just to diagnose it, I’m either doing it wrong, skipped a procedure, or I’ve finally met my match, and it’s time to go flip hamburgers for a living.  But if we are talking about the actual repair … that can take a lot of time.  
 
     But as far as what it means to a service tech when somebody wants to wait while hovering over them like a vulture… well, it usually means (to me), they don’t trust the technician.  Maybe they just want to learn something…  Really?… Learn what? How to fix their car so they don’t have to bring it into the repair shop next time...?  I guess that would speed things up a bit.  But I’m not there to teach, I’m there to fix the car.  I’d like to tell them they should go stand over the cooks and watch how they’re making their next burger … yea; I can see that going over real well at the restaurant.
 
     There is also another type of person out there that not only has a great deal of miss-trust for service people, but their personal lives are so hectic they can’t slow down to watch a sunset.  They expect everything in their life to snap to attention when they say go, and nobody better slow them down.
They’ll wait in the lobby or waiting room for only so long, and then they’ll start to pace around like a thoroughbred race horse anxious to get out of the starting blocks.  First in the waiting room, then into the front of the office, finally their pacing reaches out into the parking lot, and up and down in front of the service bay doors… usually with their cell phone stuck to their head, trying to find another repair shop in the area that can “get-to-it” quicker than I can.  
 
     By the time the pacing has reached the service bay level, the waiting is usually over, and they’ll come up with some excuse like, “I just need to check on a few things across town.  I’ll be back in an hour or so” or “I forgot something at home, I’ll be right back.  Save me a spot OK?”  Sure … you forgot something … Oh don’t worry, I’ve saved a special spot just for you.  
 
      Now really, do ya think I just fell of the proverbial turnip truck just yesterday?   I guess you think you’ve come up with this grandiose idea of how to graciously back out of waiting all by yourself, and nobody has ever tried that line on me before.  Right, you keep thinking that… … and of course, they never make it back… they’re gone… gone for good.  
 
tp.gifMy wife will always tell me, “One car at a time, honey.”  I know, I know… it still bugs me that people can’t be patient.  I guess I’ll never understand. 
 
tp.gifMaybe what I should do is buy an old fast food restaurant with a drive up window, and set up a menu board with a selection of different types of auto repairs on it with prices clearly marked.   Forget diagnosing cars, forget verifying complaints, and just fix whatever they order through that scratchy sounding intercom.  I’d do all the money transactions at the first window, and then motion them onto the next window where a team of techs would jump out with little paper hats on and go at it with the speed of a pit crew.  Wrenches flying, impacts at the ready, timing belts flying through the air and landing in the engine with every tooth precisely in place, and… before you know it… the car is back on the road.  
 
tp.gifWow, what an idea…  
 
tp.gifRush, rush, rush, rush… hurry, hurry, hurry… that’s what it’s really all about.  I’m rushed enough anymore, I don’t need any help from a cell phone carrying customer pacing in front of my service bays.  It should be pretty simple to understand if all the bays are full and people are busy it’s more than likely you’re going to have to wait.  You know, we all can’t be first in line… quit shoving; you’ll get your turn.  
 
tp.gifWhat’s really funny, well sort of funny… is the car in question isn’t even in the service bay yet.  We haven’t even begun to see the fun we’ll be having with Mr. or Mrs. Hurryup especially when you finally get it diagnosed and you tell them it’s going to take a few hours to fix their car.  
 
tp.gif I’d like to think I can help anyone who comes to my door, but you know, I’ve been at this a long time.  I know better.  Trying to please everyone is never going to be possible. I’m better off standing at the front desk and taking down their information and when they tell me… “I need this done right now!”  I’m going to answer them with;
“You want fries with that?” 
and see what kind of response I get then.  

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Rehashing an old story... but a good one.  This same thing happened again last week.  The shop wasn't busy, but I was on the computer with a dead line to meet.  I even told the guy the "shop" is closed today, but I'm taking appointments for next week.  He should have ordered a happy meal....  a real jerk. 

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LOL, so ture, It also seems t o happen when you are the busiest... I had one guy come over to me " I have a little problem, and need to get to work if you could just help me out ", well we all know a little problem means a big problem if it was a little problem why didn't he fix it himself??  So the guy without any prompting tells me his car is right behind my bay and starts to tell me his problem not letting me get a word in ending with I am in a hurry.. ( at the time I was about half way through a timing belt on a acura 3.5 RL,) I said sure, turned around grabbed the 5 or 6 tickets that were already on my toolbox handed them to him, then said sure finish this car up for me then call these other people and see if it is okay if I work on your car before them since you are in such a rush.  He gave the tickets back and responded " oh it is like that "  one word response YEP ! ... He did end up leaving his car, some might think that is a bad way to handle a customer, but after 26+ years of doing this job I have found that you treat the customer the same way they treat you and they tend to understand a little better. Also after years these things get a little old. Then you have the one that call on the phone and have to tell you their whole life story just to ask if you can take a look at their car the following week, well that is a whole other story I am sure Gonzo has already posted LOL.. 

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It's a good thing there is no "fast food" auto repair place. No one wants to work like that! It might not be a bad idea to give the customer a voucher for a free meal at the fast food joint down the street, just to get him out of the way so you can take your time in fixing the car without interruption!

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That is the reality today. It's an instant gratification world out there with gigabit internet speeds (which I am on right now). The auto industry is starting to take that trend too, I see "Take 5 Oil Change" franchise stores popping up on every corner. 5 Min oil change... really? I think customer pulls in and doesn't even get out of the vehicle.

For those who have owned your shop for a while, you guys still have your old customers. For people like me, 90% of my customers are new (only been in business 2 years). On top of that, my shop is in the Raleigh Triangle Park (RTP) where companies like Cisco, IBM and SAS are headquartered. Busy people with busy lives expecting fast service.

I try and get people in and out as quick as possible but I learned the hard way that it really hurts me, my techs and my business when I take orders from the customer. The last few months my ARO doubled as I have been more focused on taking time and doing more thorough inspections. All I can do is promise the customer that I'll do my absolute best and give them my best. We won't make every customer happy but I'll sure as hell try.

Unfortunate reality is that the customer is king- I didn't realize this before but if you have 1 unhappy customer that leaves....

Let's say average customer comes in twice a year and spends $229 (this months average RO so far). Average customer will refer 2 friends. With having 1 unhappy customer- that's potentially $6,870 loss in 5 years. This is why I focus so hard on customer service. I am really unhappy with my 4.9 star rating on google with 85 reviews because I have 2 1 stars on there. And don't even get me started on my 4.5 rating on Yelp, that is abysmal. I have went to customers houses to try and get those ratings changed and showed them customer service you wouldn't believe.

I think we have to find the solution to objections in this day and age. If they don't have time to wait for a water pump- set an appointment and have them drop it off or shuttle them home. I strongly encourage my customers to drop off for any ticket that's 3 hours or above. We get oil changes and scheduled brake jobs in right away. Unfortunately where I live, there's too much competition and every customer counts. Myself and the rest of my team have to be willing to go the extra mile to retain all our customers and wow new ones

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  • 2 months later...

yes I usually hand them a funny cigarette and tell em take a deep breath.....I got the scanner hooked up and this scanner is so wonderful that in five minutes it will not only pinpoint the exact problem tell of any other associated problems and fix them at the same time and we can charge a thousand dollars....here boss here customer inhale deeply.....yes they say now I see it must be fixed   hey don't bogart that I say relax its gonna be legal soon....No seriously.....the people who seem to have the hardest time understanding the complexity and time requirements for fixing todays vehicles are clueless as to whats involved ....   If your service manager or owner has had time to get their hands dirty, the more they got those hands dirty the more they seem to understand....the less.... the less they seem to understand  so hand them the scanner and say can you do it and faster too?...thaz what she... anyways pass the funny cigarette and get to work. AS far as customers its a challenge to make them understand....Yes we are responsible to educate them to the facts...so as the y song says have a hit of fresh air...often times people do understand if you can convey the correct information. I work on Just Answer and help all kinds of people with their auto concerns...so this for the people who don't understand and for those who have been thru the frustration of having to deal with those who dont

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         0 comments
      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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