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newport5 last won the day on August 26

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  • Business Name
    Newport Motorsports
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    2991 Grace Lane, Costa Mesa, California, 92626
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
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    Service Advisor
  • Automotive Franchise
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    Bosch Service Center

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  1. So you're going to recommend the oil service while they are in there for the free tire rotation? Why not just convince/educate them on the real-world oil change schedule? And the value of inspections every 7500 miles instead of ??? miles ...
  2. I agree with the right people, but also shop procedures. It's one thing to run a shop when it's slow; the owner or manager can "touch" everything. But when it gets busy and they can't get involved with everything in the shop, that's when procedures pay off. That is, a happier staff and happier customers. If something goes wrong often, create a procedure to lessen the stress.
  3. I don’t think we deliver an expectation, we deliver the experience. The customer has the expectation. I would think their expectations would be: fix their car, at a fair price, a good warranty, with a good explanation of what was done, and kept up to date on the repair and it’s cost. A bonus would be a nice, friendly (maybe fun) interaction with the staff, whether service advisor, owner, manager or receptionist. Too many people “expect” or are afraid of being ripped off, probably more for first time customers. I can’t remember a customer EVER telling me their expectations. I’m not a fan of “exceed expectations.” What is that: coffee, donuts, toys for the kids as mom waits? A ride? A rental car? And then, how do you exceed exceeded expectations the next time??? I’ve even read “shatter expectations,” with no hint as to what that would be. What goes a long way are great 5 Star reviews to put (first time) customers at ease. I answer the phone cheerfully every time. I had a lady customer say: “When you answer the phone, I know everything is in good hands.” A good start on the customer experience.
  4. One more thing. When I started your article, I was hoping you didn’t say, “Do a complete inspection on every car.” And sure enough … It seems vehicle inspections come up every 3 to 6 months in an article somewhere. And I don’t get why. I grew up being a Porsche mechanic (after being a VW mechanic) and every car was given an inspection. If we didn’t, we were in trouble. That was our job: look at the whole car, not just change the oil. We would road test the car first, if safely drivable, to check the acceleration, shocks, alignment, gauges, braking, noises, etc. Once on the rack, with the oil draining, we check out the car from underneath: tie rods, ball joints, brake pad thickness, leaks, etc. It seems so normal to me. Are shops afraid what the customer will say when they tell them they will inspect the car? Then don’t say “inspection.” That sounds like you have a magnifying glass, looking for the tiniest thing to fix and charge more. Instead, something like: “We’ll give your car a once-over.” Or, “We’ll check it out while it’s on the rack.” What some remember though is the customer seeming upset and says, “NO, just change my oil.” After too many of those, the service writer quits checking the cars because he or she hasn’t been taught how to bring that up or make that call with the additional work (a future post). But think back, how many times has a customer asked, after an oil change: “So everything else is ok?” I would like to know why shops don’t check every car. Too many cars to work on to do an inspection and find even more work? And wait for approval. It would put the shop further behind? Uneasy about telling your customer that you are going to do an inspection? Don’t like the call to the customer with the additional work (not taught how?)?
  5. I agree and would like to elaborate on a few things. Re: “Explain what they need now and what to be budgeting for in the near and distant future …” I so agree. May I add that I see it as roughly, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. Their car comes in for a check engine light and their service is due soon, so do it now – first 1/3. You do an inspection and find several things that need attention - second 1/3. You spot things they need in the future – final 1/3. So … they NEED the first third – very little “selling” (see below for more). The last 1/3 is in the future, so little selling. And the middle 1/3 I say, “Lets come up with a plan.” Again, I’m not selling, I’m explaining and advising. I think the shop owner should be careful expecting a high closing ratio. It would be too easy for the service advisor to write up less in the last 1/3, the future work. Or, “sell” more of the future work. Either way, it’s not taking care of the customer first. “ … always building that personal relationship CONSTANTLY !” Agreed. They trust you now. Heck, I’ve told them what not to do now, the last 1/3. Meaning, I’m not after their money. My aim is to take care of them and their car. I then “explain” the middle third and why they need it. Most times they say yes. “I can guarantee if you build this type of business relationship with your customers in a few visits to your shop they will lay there keys on the counter and say fix it. It happens with every shop I work with and it amazes them.” Again, agree. It’s based on trust, that personal relationship. “I smile and say, it’s just being a people person and we are in the people business.” We are taking care of people, not just cars. “Services advisers should be talking to the customer to become their friend and extract information. Put a comment in the customer info on what he or she likes from your conversation and you will be very happy in the return you will receive.” Agreed. Then, during their next visit, you can ask: How was the camping trip? How was the trip to your son’s/daughter’s future college? How was the big golf tournament?” You are friends talking friend’s stuff. So instead taking time to sell “safety, value and benefits,” you’re talking friend’s stuff and they say yes to the additional work, because they trust their friend. “I have always said a service advisor is NOT a sales person but a problem solver.” Nobody likes to be sold: it’s almost an automatic defense mechanism. “Solve their problems and be friendly.” So simply put
  6. Mathew, Great start to a list of suggestions. Noah, that was generous of him. Body work is way different from mechanical repair. Spray booths are an event to make happen. I've met only one shop owner who was not a former mechanic/technician. Before I knew that, I could tell something was off. I carried that thought to the whole shop, that they were just ok. Elaborate, and a bit more specific.
  7. I believe we all WISH there was a system that worked! My suggestions: Schedule Mondays and Fridays light, for the breakage over the weekend and the need for their cars for the weekend. When making appointment, look into recommendations: such as, pads at __ % or __ mm. Check mileage for spark plug replacement. Get tentative approval for the above when they drop off their car to keep your tech busy. Include extra time for check engine lights for diagnosis and parts replacement time. Try to get some cars for 2 days so you can juggle.
  8. Is your business down 40 or 50% like many on this forum? If so, I have an idea to help a bit now, but especially in the future. And even help the impression of our industry. You probably have more time available to spend with your customers. It’s the perfect time to build or cement a great relationship, to create that illusive trust with your customer, that’s mentioned in just about every trade magazine, but they never tell you how. May I suggest “The How” that I’ve been using for years? This will be handy now and in the future when this is over. Learn more about your customers. Become “friends.” Talk about everything: the lousy situation we’re in, ask about their job, their kids, their past vacation, their future vacations, their weekend jaunts. Exchange good news. Exchange not-so-good news. Listen. Talk about what comes up. I treat our customers like friends, like former high school friends. And these friends know we have to make a profit (EVERYBODY knows that!) For me, it’s a given that we’re going to take care of their car. If they tell me their dad just went into the hospital or nursing home, we’re done talking about their car. I ask, “How’s dad?” But still do your (digital) inspections. And write down everything, even the stuff that can wait six to nine months. This may affect the service writer or shop’s approval percentage, but so what! Your percentage will be lower, but you will do more work on the car this way. (Notice that I didn’t say you would sell more work. I don’t “sell.”) No decision now on the future stuff, it can wait. If their car came in with a problem, this is what will fix it (there’s no selling: this is the solution). I point out the other thing that needs attention now. There will be some explanation, but no selling: it needs it. No decision for the customer, actually. Their car needs it. Next I say, “Here are the things that can wait six to nine months, but I want you to be aware so there are fewer surprises.” No selling, no decisions on their part. Plus, I’m the trustworthy guy who’s telling them they don’t need everything now. “Now let’s come up with a plan for these other things I found about your car.” I’m explaining, not selling. “You can do these now or in two or three months.” NOBODY wants to come back in two or three months so they are leaning in that direction, but no pressure from you. They will probably ask; “What would you do?” I say, “If you hate bringing your car in, do it now.” (this is where you would bring in a little value, benefits and safety) Again, not selling, suggesting; letting them make the decision. Notice that the first two issues didn’t involve them making a dreaded decision: It needs this, doesn’t need that. If your inspection has 5 things, they will do 2 to 4. If the inspection has 8 things, they will do 3 to 5 – with no selling. You are their friend, you are advising. List everything! Now think about that phone call. There is only a little selling value or benefits: maybe some safety. So there’s no pressure on you, no bad news. You are the car detective, reading the cars clues and helping your friend thru this. When you take care of the customer in this fashion, you come from a place of trust, like taking care of a high school friend. You will be happier because that call back won’t be stressful, you will have more work, and they are more likely to refer your trustworthy, easy-to-work-with shop, which means even more work.
  9. How do you think they are after your customer? Getting info from the VIN and contacting them? Highly unethical, almost stealing. I'd be surprised. too easy to verify, which would be bad publicity. A "fee" seems fair, depending on how much. Is it a shop rate, where you can mark it up? Could it be simply added income for them? And what if the diagnosis doesn't fix the problem? I'm presuming their diagnosis software is much better than ours -- read more expensive, Probably prohibitively more expensive than ours, depending on how many brands you work on.
  10. Alex, did the Chat happen last night, the 16th? I tried to get on, or I did it wrong.

    Please let me know how to join the chat, Wednesday or Sunday night.

    1. Alex


      I replied to your comment here. The chat room is always available https://www.autoshopowner.com/chat/

      I just haven't seen much activity lately.

  11. I agree with above: it's not "a sell." (and certainly not an upsell - it either needs it or it doesn't) The service ADVISOR educates the customer about the needed repair or maintenance. If you built up trust, they will say yes - or reschedule. How can they say no? You aren't "selling" anything. They can't say not to the idea of repair, because it needs it (you're the expert). And your advice is coming from a trusted friend, you, the advisor. And everyone knows you have to make a profit -- just like their company. They can say no to doing it now, for several reasons: they don't care enough about maintaining their car, they are cheap, or they really can't afford it now. Oh, the go-to, "I'm selling the car." (That's when I tell them, "OK, don't do that, but do this, this and this, to get more for your car or make it easier to sell.") Re "trusted" advisor, the trade magazines don't tell you how, they just say do it. And the same goes for the "amazing customer service" or the "exceed/shatter expectations." The trade magazine just say do it. Maybe you're supposed to hire the writer and their company to teach you. (And how do you shatter expectations the next time?) Future article coming on the "how."
  12. Briefly, I’m opposed to price matching. Even just the IDEA of pricing matching. That’s not to say that I’ve never done it. But … First, you just taught your customer how to get your price down next time. Second, since you did it this time, you’re somewhat ok with it and you’ll do it next time. Third, think of the time it took to get to the point of comparing “line by line.” The research, phone calls and the actual time going over the “line by line” comparison with explanation. All that to make less money ?? Think of it: your customer takes 15 minutes to a half hour to find and call three shops for quotes and saves $100 with you. That’s $200 to $400 an hour for them. Instead, build up such a relationship with your customers/clients/friends that they trust you are taking care of them (and yourself) at a fair price. If your customer is calling other shops for price comparisons, you are probably “selling” parts and labor. I’m close with Joe, but instead of “selling” Relationships and Trust, I’m Building Relationships and Trust. More later …
  13. This experience taught me a lessen on human nature. As I'm inspecting the paint on a first time customer with a Porsche Turbo, the customer says, "I see you found my 2 nicks." I said I found 4 and pointed them out to him. He was shocked and surprised. Point being: he came in believing he had 2 nicks when he had 4.
  14. I’m not just selling radiators. I’m diagnosing, repairing, inspecting and warranty-ing cars That is, Rock Auto can’t inspect the customer’s car. Nor diagnose their problem. Nor can they replace the part. I’ll bet those same people bitch about $7 for of a beer when hanging with friends. “I can get a whole six pack for that price!” But they don’t think about all they get for that $5 markup. They get the experience of hanging with their friends at a fun place, away from the distractions, worries, and commitments of home (no kids or dogs), with sports on the TV, music, the ability to laugh and joke out loud. No preparation (house cleaning) and no clean up after. Not bad for $5. For our markup, I read we’re supposed to deliver a great “the customer experience,” but most articles leave it at that, with few suggestions. Oh, a comfortable waiting room. If that’s all it took, I’d be calling an interior designer to increase my car count. Or, “exceed expectations,” again with few suggestions. How do you exceed them at the second and third visit? I talk life with my customers, because they know that their car is taken care of: I’m going to fix it, at a fair price for both of us, and check out the rest of their car – like I’ve always done. I ask: “So how are you? And the family? And life?” Which I think is a big part of the “experience.”
  15. I have 2 questions/comments; inspections and waiting customers. First, I don’t understand all the fuss over inspections. I recall an editorial a few years ago about what to do in the slow times: (better) inspections. I remember saying, “No, you do those to EVERY car, EVERY day.” How the heck is that news? That’s our job! I tell brand new customers who come in with a problem, “I’ll give your car a check over while it’s here.” No selling, not pushy. And it’s not thrown at them at the end. When I call them to explain the work needed to fix their car (again, not selling … this is what their car needs), I say, “Here’s what we found when we checked out your car; let’s come up with a plan.” Notice the “let’s” part of that. It’s a team thing. I advise, coach, and gently persuade; they decide. By now they trust me; I tell them what they need now, what can wait a few months and what can wait longer. It’s an easy decision for them. Besides, they usually say yes to the stuff due in a few months – the car is already here. It amazes me that there has to be an article on inspections in the first place, not to mention that it seems to appear every other month in some trade magazine. RE: “Thousands of customers have told us, in waiting areas and at the counters of shops all across the country...” “That they know these inspections are a way for the shop to sell them more services.” That’s because you are bringing up the additional work the old-school way. I recall a customer from around 1980 after we did an oil change on his Porsche. He said: “So everything else on my car is ok?” My first thought: hey jerk, you only wanted an oil change. Then I realized, everyone wants to know about their car, they just don’t care to hear the bad news. But too bad; that’s life. And like a customer told me: “That‘s part of owning a car.” Plus they want to know ahead time so there are no surprises. Personally, I don’t use the word “inspection.” That sounds like you are going over their car with a magnifying glass, trying to find EVERYTHING wrong. Inspection reminds people of a teacher going over a student’s homework/test with a red pen. --------------------- Second, I don’t understand all the effort put into waiting customers. How do you work in the additional work you find from the inspections? Do they stay another 2 or more hours? Reschedule? Maybe that‘s why I hear shops not doing inspections: they can’t be done in a reasonable amount of time, so they have to quote it. Then the customer can take that quote to another shop who will GLADLY do it for less to get a new customer. How do shops get their ARO (average repair order) up if the customer is waiting? Do they wait 4 hours?

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