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Is there a trick to getting the car?


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Since I have switched from used tires to more NEW tires and service I have struggled getting people to leave me their cars. Why does everyone think that getting their vehicle repaired is like buying a gallon of milk? Do they really think they will be in and out quickly? I am in no rush to repair vehicles. My belief is that when it's right, it's ready.

 

I have worked for many shops and it is always the rush jobs that never get the attention needed. I remember some schmuck service adviser yacking my ear off to hurry the oil change up. When this happened I would be forced to drain, fill and ship.

 

I was at a Dodge dealership today dropping off a customers car for a clock spring recall and I heard this women go out into the shop and yell "waiter here". I felt kind of bad for the customer getting a drain, fill and ship or a set the toe and let it go. You could hear by her voice that waiters are hurry, hurry, hurry.

 

Don't people want a good job done and if so don't they know better to drop it off?

 

Quick lubes? Who the hell would want a quick lube. This is not pizza delivery. I would want a long lube. Change my oil and filter, grease the complete chassis, vacuum my floors, lube my doors, clean my windshield, check my air pressures and so on.

 

Maybe I will be the first shop to offer the "Long Lube".

 

I can't stand the pressure of the customer getting up out of the chair and looking out the window into the shop and then looking at his or her watch. I am real close to taking the chairs out of the waiting room and placing stickers of foot prints on the floor against the wall. LOL

 

Please tell me your word track.

 

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I hear ya this is certainly a struggle for everyone. I think the best answer is as you change your shop culture, the type of customer you will bring in will start to match your business model a lot more. Also education about how your shop is different from other shops due to precision, professional and care which also require additional time with the vehicle. Thats when you offer courtesy shuttles, loaner cars, etc.

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If you shoo away the waiters you will lose some tire business, You can thank the tire chain giants for that. Walmart promotes instant gratification, same with most of the others. Tires have become a commodity. If you can't do them right now the competition will, the product is the same. Auto Service is not the same as tires. People will gladly drop off their car to get it fixed right because they can't get that everywhere, not so much with a set of hoops.

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There's a strategy to taking the pressure off yourself, your techs AND the customer.


It's based on two things.


The first thing is: always using a calendar, so that a specific time slot is scheduled

for that vehicle. (This eliminates rush jobs and driving your techs crazy.)


The second thing is: Setting the customer's expectations properly by telling them

how long it's going to take.


And then, giving them their options. (This eliminates suprises on their end.)


It doesn't matter whether it's a LOF, tires or anything else....


You control the traffic.


Here's a word track:


"Mr. Jones, in order to do the job correctly... it's going to take (whatever amount

of time). I've got an opening today at (whatever time). Or I can take care of it

tomorrow at (whatever time). Were you going to wait on it or were you going

to leave it with me?"


If the customer needs to be somewhere that's fairly local, you can offer a

shuttle service and ask them, "Do you need a ride?"


Most customers are patient and understanding AS LONG AS they know -

in advance - how long the job is going to take. And are given the options for

dropping it off, allowing you to shuttle them OR waiting.


Even if a customer is waiting, there really shouldn't be any pressure because

you already set their expectations and told them how long it was going to take.

So, if someone wants to watch, that's fine.

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By the way, I know some shops do use loaner cars. If you're going down that path,

you are going to want to seek professional advice from an attorney and your

insurance company (both of them for liability reasons). And you are going to want

to speak with your accountant, from an IRS and tax perspective because the

purchase of the cars and the related expenses have to be accounted for properly..

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I never give the customer an option of waiting and always speak to them assuming they are going to leave the vehicle. You are training them that it is normal procedure that leaving the vehicle is the process in which to fix their car. Of course you will get push back when they say, "well can't I just wait for it?" or "how long is it going to take I don't have anywhere to go." At that point I say, "oh of course you can't wait for it! We actually have a waiting area if you'd like to sit and wait or we can give you a ride to the mall so you aren't bored waiting around for us to finish your vehicle." I find that the customers that respect what you do understand that waiting for anything more than an oil change is no good and the ones that insist on waiting for everything are the ones that pretty much don't respect your business or your profession. Repairs take time as well as diagnostics. Make it as easy for them to leave the car with you. Offer them rides, offer them a loaner or rental if they are getting major repairs.

 

I've spoken to many shop owners about waiters and even those with taj mahal waiting areas. Their response always is, "I don't want waiters." Think of yourself as an educator and teach your customers to drop their cars off.

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Changing from used to new tires is an adjustment, and it will probably take time. Steer your clients toward appointments. Tell them you want to give their vehicles the time and attention they deserve.

 

Check out this article out of Ratchet+Wrench for some great ideas on that loaner fleet.

 

http://www.ratchetandwrench.com/RatchetWrench/August-2014/Managing-a-Fleet-of-Loaner-Vehicles/

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I love the when customers drop their vehicles off and come back after we've called them to let them know its finished. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often for "quick" services such as oil changes, inspections, etc. at our facility. For those of you that have been successful in educating your customers on dropping their vehicles off, do all of those customers have two vehicles/someone to always drop them off? A lot of our customers only have 1 vehicle and without getting someone to help them drop off their vehicle and take them back home/to work, it would be difficult for them to drop off their vehicle without waiting for the service. For major repairs, I would say that a lot of the general public has been trained properly in terms of duration of time it takes to get the job done properly and for us anyways, it seems easier for these types of customers to drop of their vehicles. For all of you that do appointments, does that mean you do not take walk in's for quick services (oil changes, inspections, etc.)?

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I love the when customers drop their vehicles off and come back after we've called them to let them know its finished. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often for "quick" services such as oil changes, inspections, etc. at our facility. For those of you that have been successful in educating your customers on dropping their vehicles off, do all of those customers have two vehicles/someone to always drop them off? A lot of our customers only have 1 vehicle and without getting someone to help them drop off their vehicle and take them back home/to work, it would be difficult for them to drop off their vehicle without waiting for the service. For major repairs, I would say that a lot of the general public has been trained properly in terms of duration of time it takes to get the job done properly and for us anyways, it seems easier for these types of customers to drop of their vehicles. For all of you that do appointments, does that mean you do not take walk in's for quick services (oil changes, inspections, etc.)?

 

That is a great question. Here's what you want to keep in mind.
The easier you make it for your customer to say yes, the more business
you're going to have.
Recognizing the fact that there's always going to be waiters...
You either make it easy for them to wait with you - or they're going
to find a seat at your competition's. That's just how it is.
And as you said, waiters work best for quick simple services, such as
LOF's, 2-4 tire sales (depending on how fast your tech is and what
kind of vehicle you're working on.)
Here's how you squeeze in a walk-in customer.
Normally, when you look at your calendar, you may have a time slot
or two open. Here's an example calendar, for conversation purposes:
Let's say a customer stops in for a LOF. You pull up the calender.
If the LOF takes an hour, you can immediately see Harry is open at 11:00 or 2:30.
You say to the walk-in...
"I know we're super busy. But I want to take care of you. My first waiting appointment
is at 11:00. Or we can do it at 2:30. Which would you prefer?"
And then, put them on the schedule.

In case you're wondering, don't be concerned about losing the sale if you can't

take care of them immediately. People like to do business with people that are busy..

Unless it's a true emergency there's no need to drop everything for a customer

that just stops in. You can't run a business efficiently by bumping your techs for a walk-in.

Because that creates unnecessary stress for everyone.

 

If you haven't been using a calendar up until now, it's going to take a little
bit of getting used to for you and your existing customers that are used
to just popping in.
But once you begin working by appointments, you'll be amazed at much
smoother your shop runs and how happy your techs will be.

 

Plus your customers will be happier because you've scheduled time

specifically for them..
In addition... you eliminate the stress and chaos of never knowing how
busy you're going to be from one minute to the next.

 

One of the biggest benefits is...

There is nothing like coming into the shop in the morning, pulling

up the calender, seeing all the slots filled and knowing your bays
are going to be full and your techs are going to be busy.
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Elon is 100% correct about the calender. I took his online course and the first video I watched is "Calendar". After 2-3 weeks of using the calendar I got it going good. I actually made a spread sheet like you see in Elon's image. I am failing at informing the customer what to expect. I vow that I will inform customers of what to expect at the time I make the appointment starting tomorrow.

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I offer loaner cars in a pinch. I'll loan them a car on the dealer plate to test drive for the day. It makes their life easier, my life easier, and the seed is planted in case they like my car better. My dealer insurance covers test drives which is not the same as a rental car but serves the same purpose. I used to loan people my spare personal car until I woke up and understood the liability of that is crazy. I have to tell them "NO SMOKING" you'd be surprised...

 

Using an appt calender is something we've always used. Customers appreciate we can't just get them in any time and call ahead for appointments, its just the way it is. I try to book about 50% per day and leave the other 50% of time open for upsells or quick fixes like headlights or emergency tires. We never sit still, when I booked 100% of time we ended up behind or working to midnight.

 

When a job calls for more than 3 hours or is difficult I explain that we will have it done tomorrow due to parts or whatever, it greatly reduces the stress. The last thing I want is a customer waiting for new brake lines and it takes 5 hours of time where we can't do anything else because the customer is hawkeyeing me.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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