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Customer Steps Over The Line

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A soft answer turns away wrath.Out of the mouth reveals the condition of the heart. This guy has issues in his life and was a tinder box waiting to explode. The report of bad new's with his car was the spark. I've had hundreds of people blow up at me over car problems. I would have thrown out many of my best customer if i would have listened to the evil rants. Come to find out they had cancer,lost a loved one, lost a child in 911, lost a job,etc. Send this man a christmas card today and pray for him. Don't let evil responses from people rent space in your head.




ps. I've kept tab's on people that have "blown up on me " I send them flowers, get well cars,christmas cards, called to check in on them etc. I HAVE SEVERAL THAT HAVE SPENT OR SENT over $50,OOO WORTH OF BUSINESS TO US over time..

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Four months ago a customer came to perform a brake inspection and look over the car for any needed services. It was a first time customer, referred to us by one of our regular customers. The car needed brakes and a few other minor services. Other than that the car was in very good shape. He seemed like a reasonable and friendly person.


He came back yesterday for an LOF and state inspection. The tech noticed that the right front wheel bearing was dangerously loose. When the service advisor called him, he blew up and started screaming at the service advisor, stating that we missed it four months ago. My service advisor tried to explain to him that this bearing was so bad, there is no way someone could have missed it. In fact, it was inspected by one tech and then handed over to another tech for the brake work and then re-inspected afterwards. He continued to yell and said not to touch his car.


When he came down to pick up the car and pay for the state inspection, he signed the credit card receipt and then threw the pen and the receipt at my service advisor! He then began his rant again. He went on and on and on. My service advisor said nothing, but tried to explain again the facts of the case.


I was not at work yesterday. I plan a Friday each year before Christmas to spend with my wife to finish up Christmas shopping and just spend the day together. My manager called me at night to tell me what happened. I called Mike, the service advisor who dealt with this guy, in the morning to first praise him for his professional conduct and get his take on the situation. I apologized to Mike to having to be subjected to that abuse but again praised him for his control and how he handled himself.


Here’s the kicker, as the customer was walking out the door, he turned to asked Mike how much the job would be. Mike gave him the price and the guy said, “When can you have it done”. I am sure Mike wanted to tell him, “When hell freezes over”. But, he remained calm and said, “Monday”. He said to keep the car and fix it!


Is this strange or what? Monday I plan on calling this person when his car is done and you know I will be the one handing his keys to him and collecting his money. And while Mike was very professional and did the right thing, I just might “persuade” this guy not to cross that line again with my people, because I don’t know how you feel, but no one has the right to disrespect others, no one!


Seen this before. I've tried lots of different approaches. The soft, "Thank you for bringing this issue up and we will be more than happy to take care of the problem." to "I am a professional, and cars are my business. Components and there related systems can and will fail without prior warning. Even with the best pre-inspections there is still a chance of a unknown failure to occur." and of course the responce, "Insulting my help is NOT the answer to getting service at my shop... please take your work elsewhere unless you have the decency to apologize to my staff. They could not foresee or prevent the problem but are very capable of making the repairs."


In each case the answer and outcome is different. For some people the more direct approach works, while others want the baby soft ... "awe, it'll be OK" approach. Quite frankly.... if this is the way they want to handle their car problems, chances are they will be like this every time they have another problem. I really believe that some people think a car should just go on forever and never... ever... effect their pocket book. (Oh, and by the way... that's usual what is shouting louder... it's the cost of the repairs as well as the unexpected expense that shouts the loudest.)


There's more fish in the sea, you just have to decide if this is one to keep or throw back.

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The fact that I was not there, puts me in an akward situation. I don't know how I would have responed if he had thrown a pen and the receipt at me. I don't think I would have said ok to doing the work on his car. BUT, the last thing I want to do is to second guess and judge the people I put in charge when I am not there. They made a decision and in time we wil discuss it. For now I will and must stand by my staff.


There are plenty of fish in the sea, I agree. It will be interesting to see how this guy reacts when he picks up his car. I am hoping that he apologizes, but we shall see.


Trust the staff ... they are your eyes and ears. I like to think my years of experience can account for a few "now here's how I handle it in the past" type stories... but ultimately... the staff has to make the decision based on the reactions they see in front of them.


I agree with ya Joe... stand by your staff and let the chips fall, or fish...

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Did the guy pick up his car today? I would like to know how he/you responded.

In my experience, these people get upset and then are calm soon after and apologize. Nobody wants expensive car repairs the week before Christmas (or any other time for that matter) but you just have to be patient with them, let them talk and eventually you will have their money and hopefully respect as well.

I have yet to have a customer I couldn't talk down from whatever cloud they were floating on that day... These are usually the most satisfying times in this business!

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Yes, he picked up the car and was nice as pie. He apologized to Mike, without an explanation. But, that's ok. We did not make a big deal our of it, but will be very carful in the future with him.


Thanks for asking!



For what its worth I would have probably mentioned that, "Sir we very much appreciate your business as we do with all of my customers however we do not appreciate with being treated with disrespect. We take great pride in calling ourselves professional automotive technicians and and the trust endowed by our customers in their vehicles and safety. If there was any way we would have known there would be a problem with the wheel bearing we would have caught it during the first." Something along those lines. Some people are just unreasonable... what can you do. Glad it worked out so far.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      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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