By Joe Marconi
We all know the expression, "The Customer is always right." But is that really true?
The other day a customer walked over to my tech and starting to scream at him for failing the NY State annual inspection.
I intervened and told the customer to stop and get away from my employee. I also told him that I would not tolerate anyone yelling and screaming at one of my employees.
Should I have been more "reserved" and try to defuse the situation? Should I have "politely" listened to the customer's issue?
Have you been in this position and what would you do?
Virginia's Governor in his 2020 budget proposal has included elimination of the state's vehicle safety inspection program. In addition, a state legislator has introduced a bill doing the same. I serve on the board of the Virginia Automotive Association, a group of over 200 independent shops who have banded together to lobby in the interests of our industry. VAA has ponied up a a $25000 increase in the lobbying budget to fight the move. As a shop owner, I have mixed emotions on the subject, but if I were gambling I would bet that the program will go away. On one hand, it's kind of nice that the state's motorists are forced to bring their cars to a shop once a year, giving us an opportunity to make them life-long customers. Also, it has created a cadre of technicians in the state who have been vetted and background checked by the state police. On the other hand, there are a litany of negatives inluding customer resentment, anger when their vehicle fails, uneven management by the state police who oversee the program due to limited resources. Some shops are "by the book" while others are "sticker mills" who will pass anything. Unfortunately, VAA and others have been unable to produce hard statistics that show that the program .makes a difference in highway safety. The big studies I have found blame driver error for the majority of accidents. What is ironic is that just this year VAA won a long battle to get the inspection fee raised from 16 to 20 dollars. The legislature convenes in January to enact laws that will take effect in June.
I would like to hear how other Virginia shop owners feel and I would like to hear from other states that have witnessed termination of these programs.
By Joe Marconi
We all survive by and need healthy car counts. That's a given. But all too often I see auto repair shops with "steady" but not "growing" car counts, but with new customers coming in each week.
So, the question is, "If a shop has steady car counts and has new customers each week, then why are car counts not growing?"
This is a topic that's complicated for a post but here are a few things to consider:
Is your marketing attracting the right customer that matches your key profile customer? If not, the wrong customer may be a one-timer and that does not help your car count. Or, if you are promoting too much discounting, you may be attracting the wrong customer, and that's not a long-term strategy either. Are you making every effort to WOW all new customers and create an amazing experience that gives the new customer a compelling reason to return? All too often we are too transactional and don't spend enough time establishing relationships. Make every effort to spend time with each customer and ESPECIALLY with first time customers. Its the relationship not salesmanship that builds a company! Are you booking your customer’s next vehicle appointment? Please don’t tell me this does not work. It does! Hairdressers do it, doctors do it, dentists do it, nail salons do it. My chimney cleaning service company evens books the next chimney cleaning! If you are not booking your customer’s next visit, trust me, someone else will. I hope this makes sense. What are your thoughts?
I'm looking at opening an auto repair shop with a partner who is the mechanic and possibly another mechanic. I will be the sole investor in the venture never before been in the auto rapair shop business. I will most likely manage the whole thing. I need lots of help.
How are mechanics paid?
How do I pay myself and recoup my investment?
Shop management software? Looked at MaxxTraxx, Alldatapro.
What types of insurance must I carry?
I've found a nice place with three bays to rent but will need to install lifts. Should I shop used or new?
Etc etc etc.
Thanks for any help you can offer.