That was the key message delivered by Robert Spector, author of “The Nordstrom Way,” during a recent SEMA webinar. “It’s the customer who determines whether your company will succeed or fail,” Spector advised.
Spector explained that regardless of your job title, you are in the customer service department.
“Excellent customer service is more than buying and selling products and services,” he continued. “It’s about coming in contact with a customer, identifying that customer’s specific needs and taking care of them.”
You, as readers of this magazine, are our customers. Each month, we strive to deliver targeted technical, repair and management information that you can use to expertly repair import vehicles and run your business better, and stay ahead of your competition.
As a way to gain more insight to better serve you, and learn about your challenges and unique perspectives, we recently held a roundtable discussion with about 20 members of a local Automotive Service Association (ASA) chapter, along with several Babcox editors, publishers and sales managers.
Our shop owner and technician guests talked about everything from customer service, to the quality of offshore products, to management and marketing techniques, to training, to technicians’ expertise, as well as challenges, opportunities and what they like to read.
Following is a summary of their candid comments, to which many of you can probably relate:
One shop owner buys parts from the dealer 15% of the time, but the delivery timeframe is not fast enough. If it were, would he buy more OE parts?
Customer retention management systems can pay dividends in electronically connecting with customers.
Saturday shop hours are not worth the time and effort.
Customers are fixing their clunkers, resulting in some big repair tickets.
Customers are price shopping more than ever, prompting shop owners to look for alternative parts sources.
Use the best parts you can get your hands on because you need to stand behind your work. You are selling service to customers.
Products that are made in China are not necessarily junk.
Where are all the “feet on the street”? Shop owners and techs want to see company reps at their shops.
We don’t need shop licensing; high-tech cars are weeding out the less qualified techs.
Most said that hourly labor rates are comparable to what the local dealer is charging (and rightfully so!).
Do a great job for a decent price, and put word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business to work for you.
Offer discounts to customers who bring in referrals. Effective marketing is a major component in your shop’s success.
Provide service gift cards to help prompt preventive maintenance repairs.
You know how good a tech is by his toolbox.
Dealership closings have produced more “shade-tree” techs. And many dealerships have become “used car” lots doing more service than before.
Everybody reads Mitch!