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Do you have tell your customers "No"?


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I have been running into this situation recently. Right now (thanks goodness) we are fairly busy with a lot of work and a lot of cars. I have been stuck in a position before where we have been slammed and I would still tell customers YES. There is a philosophy that many follow that is to say YES to all your customers as much as possible. When I would do this I would be stuck with a lot of cars and under delivered promises. In an effort to keep to the motto of "under estimate and over deliver" I've had to say NO to a few phone callers.

 

Situation today a 2011 BMW X6 called in for an oil change. My schedule is packed at the moment and when we perform an oil service we give the car at least 1 hour between our thorough inspection and the oil change itself. It also gives a chance to upsell any work. Since we were completely booked I tried booking him for an appointment next week. He was of course the pushy type of customer that needed the service done NOW and said he'd call back. I don't feel too bad about not booking him as in my experience the pushy customers are very hard to deal with and will only buy that they deem is important, meaning they will not be "sold" on additional services if their car is still running and driving.

 

I fully understand the principles of having "reserve" time in the schedule to deal with drop in customers. It has been a challenge for me to implement such techniques when there are times such as now where I have good customers that need work done and I can't push them off to even out my schedule.

 

 

What are your experiences? Do you ever tell customers no? How do you feel it affects your business?

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i try not to use the word "No" ever, but I do tell customers that if they can drop it off, I can try to fit it into our schedule today. If I am unable to get to it today I will gladly get to it the next business day. I hardly ever have an issue with this. If for some reason it turns into an issue, we have loaner cars to offer. Understand it is your business, not the customers, but whatever you do, don't promise something you can't deliver on.

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I agree, I try my best to get in cars that need immediate attention as soon as possible. The ones that i usually say no to are the impatient ones that need quick service. I have to weigh out the pros and cons. I have customers that are on deck whilst I have a potential time waster on the phone. Hate to call them that but i find the impatient ones to be the ones that will neglect most or all service recommendations.

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I agree, I try my best to get in cars that need immediate attention as soon as possible. The ones that i usually say no to are the impatient ones that need quick service. I have to weigh out the pros and cons. I have customers that are on deck whilst I have a potential time waster on the phone. Hate to call them that but i find the impatient ones to be the ones that will neglect most or all service recommendations.

 

All we can do is try! We will never be able to please everyone, and some people don't will never be please no matter what you do. You don't want those customers anyway.

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Yes, every single day. We book appointments 2-3 days out in most cases. It is extremely rare that we take in a drop-in waiter oil change. Our business model simple cannot support it.

 

Thankfully, there is a phenomenal Express Oil Change in our city that I can actually recommend. We send folks there if they absolutely cannot wait another 2-3 days.

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Wow I wish we had the volume/business to NOT take in walk in customers. A LARGE portion of our current customers are walk in non appointment customers, especially for services such as oil changes. I do think that it gets a bit hairy at times when we get a lot of walk in's while there are already current customer vehicles in for repair. In our area at least, it seems as though the general motoring public have been trained to expect oil changes as a waiting type of service.....

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Yes, every single day. We book appointments 2-3 days out in most cases. It is extremely rare that we take in a drop-in waiter oil change. Our business model simple cannot support it.

 

Thankfully, there is a phenomenal Express Oil Change in our city that I can actually recommend. We send folks there if they absolutely cannot wait another 2-3 days.

 

I sincerely hate it when my good customers go anywhere else for service. It is an opportunity we lose them. Not necessarily because I feel anyone can match what we do but there are a lot of dishonest shops out there that will undermine and undercut you any chance they get. For this reason alone if I can't book them I apologize for not being able to meet their expectations and offer my services on a day that I can meet them. The impatient ones never call back most likely meaning they were not going to be an ideal customer anyway.

 

Wow I wish we had the volume/business to NOT take in walk in customers. A LARGE portion of our current customers are walk in non appointment customers, especially for services such as oil changes. I do think that it gets a bit hairy at times when we get a lot of walk in's while there are already current customer vehicles in for repair. In our area at least, it seems as though the general motoring public have been trained to expect oil changes as a waiting type of service.....

 

Yes it is a shame. What I try to educate my customers on is that we perform an Oil SERVICE not an oil change. Meaning we take the time to inspect the vehicle and give a professional inspection every time which saves time, headache and money in the long run. The good ones understand the ones I don't really want walk. It still doesn't feel good letting anyone get away though. I guess its the days with little business and wondering where am I going to get the money for rent that month are still fresh in my mind lol

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I sincerely hate it when my good customers go anywhere else for service. It is an opportunity we lose them. Not necessarily because I feel anyone can match what we do but there are a lot of dishonest shops out there that will undermine and undercut you any chance they get. For this reason alone if I can't book them I apologize for not being able to meet their expectations and offer my services on a day that I can meet them. The impatient ones never call back most likely meaning they were not going to be an ideal customer anyway.

 

 

Yes it is a shame. What I try to educate my customers on is that we perform an Oil SERVICE not an oil change. Meaning we take the time to inspect the vehicle and give a professional inspection every time which saves time, headache and money in the long run. The good ones understand the ones I don't really want walk. It still doesn't feel good letting anyone get away though. I guess its the days with little business and wondering where am I going to get the money for rent that month are still fresh in my mind lol

 

 

I agree, I just smile when my customers say they have their oil changed at walmart and they want me to inspect their vehicle for an oil leak and its coming from the double gasketed filter.

 

At that point I try and explain to them do they want a high school student or college dropout changing their oil, someone that has very little training and no experience. Or do you want to spend 20 dollars more and have me do it? Normally after that they tend to come back.

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I agree, I just smile when my customers say they have their oil changed at walmart and they want me to inspect their vehicle for an oil leak and its coming from the double gasketed filter.

 

At that point I try and explain to them do they want a high school student or college dropout changing their oil, someone that has very little training and no experience. Or do you want to spend 20 dollars more and have me do it? Normally after that they tend to come back.

 

I try not to talk badly about anyone else's business. Lots of that "oh that shop, they are a bunch of hacks" goes around and I don't want to be bunched up with the rest of those dudes. I do think you hit the nail on the head. I kind of do it in a subtle way so they get the hint. For example a customer comes in with a brake problem and says they had Pepboys do their brakes, I respond with a, "....Oh.... I see" and I usually give them an oh well look. They usually get the idea they messed up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In a way it is off subject but I had to tell a customer no today. This afternoon I got a call from my dentist's office. There are within walking distance and some of them bring their cars to me including the dentist. Alexa explained that a gentlemen who had been in their office had a car smoking in the parking lot and wondered if I could help him. We were busy but I told her I would try. In a few minutes the guy walked in obviously distraught. He thought he had blow a hose. I told him to give it a while for the car to cool down and we would try to start it and bring it over. After about an hour I gave one of my guys his keys and asked him to see if he could bring it over. My two guys came back a few minutes later and said that there was no way they wanted to sit down INSIDE this vehicle. It was piled full of trash even with the rear window glass and the guy had a wood 2"x4" propped in the center of the car to keep the trash from falling on him. They said the trash and the smell were unreal and unsanitary to the highest degree. Based upon things I heard this guy say in the office and based upon what my guys told me I decided to punt. As kindly as I could I told the gentleman that there was no way we could work on the car in the condition it was in. Obviously he was mentally ill because he talked about having no money to fix his car but he also told me he was feeding 30 cats.

 

 

I have had similar cases of animals practically living in vehicles. I have no problem telling the customer that he/she needs to clean their vehicle before I will allow my technicians to work on it. There are ill people out there, but my technicians health is more important.

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This one was so filthy and in such bad shape we probably did him a favor by not working on the vehicle. it should be condemned.

Condemned is a great word for some of these vehicles. Gas can and a match, or a bio-suit for the owner.

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I think its difficult to turn down any opportunity for business. That said, you must let your business model be your guide. Are you a quick lube? If not who is your client? Waiters are just that, waiters and their primary goal is the shortest possible time until their vehicle is done. Have vision when running your business. The Pareto principal says roughly 80% of your clients are 20% of your problems, and 20% of your clients produce 80% of your income. My point is the waiter on the fly probably is not your best prospect. If a great client needs something on the fly, do it! But be selective and run your shop with vision.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the problem lies in the potential profit per working hour. A person who wants their oil changed right now and has to pick up their kids in 40 minutes isn't looking too hopeful for profit today. But why not squeeze them in, change the oil and make them an appt. for any needed services? The customer is happy they got their errands done, you get to do some real work at a more convenient time.

 

If its 2pm and there's 5 cars still on the schedule then I have to say no, but it hurts.

 

Disgusting cars are a separate issue, I hate to judge. If you looked in my truck today you would think I'm mentally challenged. I hauled cars all week so there's parts, wrappers, coffee cups, ratchet straps, dirty clothes, animal feed bags, muddy jackets, muddy boots, paperwork completely filling all available space. Crew cab truck now seats one person.

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In my experience someone who is either not organized enough to set an comfortable appt for an oil service or considers auto service as commodity will just as easily take your recs and go to another shop when its convenient for them. My personal experience is that my percentage if closing sales decreases any time a customer takes their car for later service.

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We almost never take walk ins (flats and bulb or battery changes are the exception). We book everything by appointment usually at least two days out. If a customer asks if they can get in for xyz I don't say no but instead offer to make them an appointment. I've found its a lot about the approach. Hopefully in the future software will helps us manage this problem better and even more to the liking of the customer. So far it works out pretty well, we do occasionally have someone go elsewhere for something like an oil change or snow tires when the artic vortex is hitting but most customers are smart enough to schedule or even like the idea that we are never sitting around waiting for work.

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In a way it is off subject but I had to tell a customer no today. This afternoon I got a call from my dentist's office. There are within walking distance and some of them bring their cars to me including the dentist. Alexa explained that a gentlemen who had been in their office had a car smoking in the parking lot and wondered if I could help him. We were busy but I told her I would try. In a few minutes the guy walked in obviously distraught. He thought he had blow a hose. I told him to give it a while for the car to cool down and we would try to start it and bring it over. After about an hour I gave one of my guys his keys and asked him to see if he could bring it over. My two guys came back a few minutes later and said that there was no way they wanted to sit down INSIDE this vehicle. It was piled full of trash even with the rear window glass and the guy had a wood 2"x4" propped in the center of the car to keep the trash from falling on him. They said the trash and the smell were unreal and unsanitary to the highest degree. Based upon things I heard this guy say in the office and based upon what my guys told me I decided to punt. As kindly as I could I told the gentleman that there was no way we could work on the car in the condition it was in. Obviously he was mentally ill because he talked about having no money to fix his car but he also told me he was feeding 30 cats.

 

kinda off topic but we used to have a customer just like this. eventually it got so bad that we had to say no. when she passed I think the SPCA recovered 50+ cats from her falling down house.

 

on the same subject we will turn down people who are unhealthily not sanitary and I personally refuse to work on a vehicle with excessive patchouli oil smell

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      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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