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We sell service, not products. Yes, we sell water pumps, brake pads and air filters. And yes, those are products. But it’s the service we sell, the customer experience, which lives on well beyond the customer leaves your shop. Think of it this way; when you buy a watch, or a new cell phone, the experience of what you purchase continues after the sale. When we replace a customer’s water pump or air filter, there is very little about those items that lives on beyond the sale. But, what does live on is the customer experience. The better the experience, the more likely the customer will return to you. So focus on the customer experience, not the products you install.
My manager took a few days off, so I decided to hang around the shop and waiting area, just to see if I could help in any way. I overhead a customer during write up say, “ The car is running great, I know I am do for services, but I’ll take my chances. If the engine blows, I rather replace the engine”. We have all heard the foolishness that has come out the mouth of some people, but this statement particularly disturbed me. When asked how long he was keeping the car, he replied by saying at least another 12 years! 12 years and this guy does not want to maintain it? By the way, he drives a Toyota Matrix with 121,000 miles on the clock and he commutes to NYC each day, a round trip of nearly two hours. I decided to work with the tech and advisor just to see how this progresses. Looking at his service history, he needed a 120k service, and the road test revealed a very bad brake vibration. After we completed the multi point, I asked him to come into the shop to show him the brakes and discuss the 120k service. With his 4 year old son by his side, he said, “I’ll wait on that, just finish the oil change” I said, “Are you sure about that? You said you wanted another 12 years out of this car. You commute every day to the city, your brakes are not safe, you have young children, a wife and if something happens to the engine you rather replace it; an engine that will cost of 5,000 bucks; is that what you are telling me?” He was silent for a few seconds and I was fearful I said the wrong things. He replied, “Well, when you put it like that, I guess I need to listen to you”. We went ahead with the services, and the brakes, and I explained to him that while no one can predict the future, the only way to insure that you will decrease the odds of a major failure is through preventive maintenance. I am not suggesting that my approach was the best, in terms of speaking to people. I have known this customer since he was in grade school and perhaps I got away with more than most can.