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Comebacks: Prevention, Reputation and Cost [THA 224]


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Bruce Howes has specialized in the service of European automobiles since he was 21 years old. He is a Bosch Trained technician, with extensive experience in BMW, Mercedes and Volvo. Bruce’s business background began with his family business, his grandfather owned an automotive repair shop during the 1920s.

In 2003 he opened the Atlantic Motorcar Center in Wiscasset, ME. Bruce leads a team of highly trained and certified technicians. His business takes a rather unique approach to customer service, focusing on relationships with customer and car. Bruce shares “When a customer comes in and spends more time sharing their son’s baseball game, or showing us photos from their last vacation, then I know I’ve done my job.”

Bruce is also a Dale Carnegie graduate and former volunteer with Junior Achievement. Listen to Bruce's previous episodes HERE

Tom Lambert, owner of Shadetree Automotive. Tom Lambert got his start right at home. His dad and uncles always had projects going on in the home garage. During the summer vacation, his dad would have Tom remove engines from the vehicles that were being sent to the local machine shop for rebuilding.

In the past three and a half years, Tom and his dad have made strategic adjustments in the business. They are now a $2.5 million dollar a year shop with 10% annual growth and profitability. They continue to improve every day. Tom says he has the best team and a strong culture. In January 2017 Tom bought his dad completely out of the business.

Tom struggled for many years because he had lost his passion for the auto industry. After receiving all the guidance and coaching over the past few years, he is rejuvenated and has more passion than ever and is currently doing everything he can to pay it forward to other local shop owners. Tom’s previous episodes HERE.

Russell Crosby is the owner of Russ's Wrench Auto Repair located in Clinton, NJ.

Key Talking Points

  • Not meeting customers expectations- losing the opportunity to make it right
  • Follow-up calls/email/texts- saying thank you without asking about another appointment, 95% will bring back once you have a conversation. Many won’t let you know what went wrong, reach out and openly accept feedback.  
  • 70% of comebacks are communication issues- customer to advisor, advisor to technician, technician to advisor 
  • Quality control- tech driving car to verify correction, QC checklist, senior service advisor driving car
  • DVI to minimize comebacks- accountability for comebacks and confidence when talking to a customer
  • Logging comebacks- google spreadsheet, time/repair/cause. Look for trends in comebacks. Is it trainable?
  • More detail the better for service advisors and technicians- service advisors need training on asking customers the right questions 
  • Customers often withhold information of what’s wrong or what it’s had done previously because they think it’ll cost less- build rapport and trust with customers and ask open-ended questions for discussion. 
  • Let service advisors advise- are they overloaded with estimates/scheduling/answer phone etc? Consider bringing another employee on board. Give them time to talk on the phone and communicate with customers instead of rushing through it. 
  • “Caring for cars and people”- value customer and their vehicle 
  • Leadership- set goals, get team on board, measure the goals, provide feedback
  • Team culture-making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re kicked out the door. Failure is learning. When mistakes happen bring it up when you’re one on one. 
  • Perfection doesn’t exist- give grace to customers and employees and make it right. Progress, not perfection. 
  • “Perfection is not attainable, but if you chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi
  • Feedback- ask new customers why they chose you and what is frustrating about repair work? Ask existing customers what frustrates them about owning a vehicle, and what frustrates them about having it serviced
  • A special thanks to Bruce Howes, Tom Lambert and Russell Crosby for their contribution to the aftermarket.
  • Books Page HERE
  • Listen to all Remarkable Results RadioFor The Record and Town Hall Academy episodes.

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This episode is brought to you by Shop Marketing Pros. Your guides are Kim and Brian Walker with a rich history as shop owners and industry veterans. When someone searches for a shop, who are they finding? Your competitors? It should be you! The good people over at Shop Marketing Pros know how to drive website traffic and make Google work for you! www.shopmarketingpros.com

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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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