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Wait Customers; on the rise, or decline?


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There seems to be a lot of mixed reactions since COVID on customers waiting for service.  For many shops across the country, most customers drop off their cars for service these days.  

What's your strategy? Does it depend on your business model?  

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26 minutes ago, xrac said:

Waiters are a pain in the rear.  Repairs never go as planned. Bolts brake. Guys take lunch.  A projected 3 hour repair turns into all day.  The wrong part is delivered.  It happens all the time.  Maybe waiting on an oil change is practical but that is about it.  We encourage people to drop off by saying "we can get it in on Monday if you can drop it off".  Can't drop it off we can't get it into till next week.  We also offer rides home.  I tried loaners for a while but now do not think the headache and cost is worth it.  The more affluent customers always have options. It is the poorer customers and single individuals who most often want to wait. 

 

Ha!  You get right to the point! You make great points, Frank! 

 

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I don't care if they wait, but it does not change their total time.   However, I agree with Frank, if something is going to go wrong, it's going to be on the waiters or those on a hard deadline.   Both of these are Jinxes against successful plans!   However, there are times when I'd rather they wait on a vehicle.   Don't want to take someone home for a .5 job.  In this case, we may reorder the schedule to make this happen.  At the same time, if they have their own ride, drop offs are always preferred. 

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I agree with all the comments. For the last few years I was in business, we were very careful what we scheduled as a wait.  And if the customer gave us push-back and had to wait, then it was explained up the front what could occur if something goes sideways.  BUT, customers still got upset. 

For that reason, wait customers were reduced to only certain simple services, and mostly on newer cars. 

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15 hours ago, DUFRESNES said:

We have 2 waiters a day.  Usually for oil changes.  Since the pandemic, we don't give rides home.  We do have loaners.  Best thing we ever did.  Yes insurance is expensive on them.  I don't know how we ever did it without them.  We have 4.  People are really grateful.  We don't give them out for oil changes usually mostly for big jobs, unless they are a really good  clients

 

Loaner cars have become more popular, and as you state, it needs to be managed correctly. 

Do you see increasing your loaner cars, or starting up shuttling customers home again in the future? 

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48 minutes ago, Transmission Repair said:

Waiters in the transmission repair business rarely happens.  If it does, it's usually for a transmission fluid & filter change or transmission flush.  I consider it a non-issue for us.  However, a lot has changed since I retired.  The biggest thing I see is that loaners aren't really needed.  Lyft and Uber have created commercial accounts where a customer can order a ride(s) and it gets billed to the business.  We used to use Enterprise, but their prices have really gone up a lot.  Ride share (Uber & Lyft) is the way to go today.

Good points, and agree. One thing to consider. I am from update New York. Most of the time you can't get an Uber or Lyft, they are not available. But if there were, that is a viable option. 

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On 9/16/2022 at 10:37 AM, Transmission Repair said:

Just as a test, try loading Uber and/or Lyft app on your phone.  Try ordering a ride.  I bet you can.  You never know unless you try.  Let me know how it turns out.

Thanks, I did that.  There are not a lot of Ubers of Lyft cars available, and the wait time can be up to one hour. Unless we schedule a specific time.  

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22 hours ago, DUFRESNES said:

Some of customers use Uber, very few.  We used to use Enterprize, but since adding loaners our business has gone up substantially even during the pandemic.  Each business must decide what works best for them.  

That's is what we did.  We had Enterprise and Hertz in our area, and they gave up a deep discount for our customers. 

And, I agree 100%... "Each business must decide what works best for them."

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4 hours ago, Transmission Repair said:

OK, I get it.  It's not that Uber and/or Lyft aren't in your area, it's the wait time.  Although I didn't think of that, it all makes perfect sense to me now.  Wow, your former shop must not be located near any metropolitan area.  We are located in Draper, Utah which is a suburb of Salt Lake City.  SLC is only 20 miles/30 minutes away.  I guess I should count my blessings.

I'm going to go off a tangent, but let me tell you about Draper and why we moved here.  I originally moved our shop to Draper in 2008 because of the more affluent area.  People had money, drove nice cars, and had good credit.  The average household income was double of our previous location.  

Demographics | Draper City, UT - Official Website

The problem I have is that I take a lot of what we have for granted.  I tend to think everybody's area is like ours.  I also tend to think everybody thinks like me.  Sad, but true.  All of that is not true; I need to be more humble and appreciate everyone's differences.  At 67, I'm still learning.)

First, we are the same age, and I'm still learning too.

I had two locations, an 11-bay and a 4-bay location,  and a 3-bay satellite facility around the corner from my 11-bay shop. The 11-bay and the 3-bay were located Mahopac, NY, in Putnam county, about 45 minutes north of NYC. My 4-bay shop we on the border of Westchester and Putnam, in a town called Croton Falls, also around 45 minutes north of NYC. While the area was populated, it's an area with very little mass transit, and nearly every drives themselves everywhere.  An excellent area for auto repair shops. 

I was born and raised in the Bronx, and felt blessed that I was able to live, have a family, and have my business career in that area. 

 

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5 hours ago, Transmission Repair said:

Wow, your former shop must not be located near any metropolitan area. 

We are in a northern suburb of Dallas, smack in-between 2 golf courses.  My receptionist uses Uber to come to work daily.  Her arrival time is variable.  I'm often texted copies of her map showing very few 0-4 Uber drivers in the morning in the larger general area.   On occasion, I do see people ordering Ubers and not have terribly long waits.  It all depends on availability at this moment.   I'll generally shuttle people home myself.  It solves most of our needs.

We have one loaner car and will offer/provide it if it will close a deal.   We don't offer it to everyone, but it helps.   I find it more useful to get us out of a pickle if we have unforseen delays and no transportation is planned.    I'm looking for the opportunity to another at some point and we have a hand-me-down van about to join the shop.  Wife needs/demands/desires a new car and doesn't like me fixing this one.

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