Weather you have been in this business for decades or just joined us recently, how many times has a guest said to you “my mechanic said” or “my mechanic says this is under warranty”? Countless!
Ever wonder why you’re not their mechanic?
I’m sorry, but every time I hear that type of comment, I cringe. In my experience, if not handled correctly, it sets the stage for confrontation. That is the last thing we want to happen.
However, I feel a sense of satisfaction just knowing that 30 years ago I entered the short list of prestigious professions. Doesn’t almost everyone at one time or another say “my doctor” or “my lawyer”. I am associated with one of the most talked about industries. How many times have you been out to dinner or just standing in line anywhere and you can hear a conversation about someone’s vehicle, repair or experience?
Getting back to my point; when someone says “my mechanic” I suspect they are trying to make a point or have developed the sense that what we are saying is either wrong in contrary to what someone else said. Sometimes, it could mean the difference between the guests trusting you or trusting the brand in general.
How we react to this statement is crucial to guest retention. In some cases it can be a welcome challenge. Let us think of it our opportunity to win a guest. First we need to get back to basics.
When we have a process in place and we treat every guest within that process, I believe we can become “their mechanic”. Developing the process and training your staff to use the process can be a tall task. So let’s see, take this task and break it down to small components.
This starts with the appointment call or the walk in meet and greet. People can sense whether or not you are smiling when you’re on the phone just by the tone you use. We can sense your body language. If your busy, are we an interruption to whatever it is you were doing prior to answering the call. We can hear it in your voice. Give that calling guest a sense that you are there to help them and answer any questions they may have. Make them feel you are proud to represent the store and brand you work for. Smile when introducing yourself and your facility. Genuinely ask what it is you can assist them with. Think about saying something different than “service can I help you”, “parts can I help you”. Perhaps asking what is it you can help them accomplish today. After all, the guest called you, so they must need your service in some way. Never say “service hold please” or “parts hold”. I have been on the receiving end of that, and I can tell you first hand that they just made me feel unimportant.
During the walk in meet and greet, walk up with determination, get out of your chair. This simple action makes it clear that you are focusing on them and only them. Greet them quickly as they arrive. Make eye contact if you’re finishing with another guest. Do everything you have to do the make your guest feel comfortable and want to be there.
Don’t be afraid to extend your hand and welcome them to your store. Everything begins with a smile.
Listening is our most valuable skill. Listen to your guest. Is it in defense of something you already said? Is it to point out they already had someone talk to them about it? Is it because they genuinely want to help you in the process of repairing their vehicle? Quite frankly, it really doesn’t matter. Look at your guest, gesture while they are speaking, this shows interest and concern.
If your facility has a drive through, invite the guest to stay at their vehicle and start your walk around. Your guest is more comfortable at their vehicle than in an office at this point. Participate in the conversation, but don’t forget at some point you will need to take charge of this interaction and make them feel they came to the right place. Once the walk around is done, then invite your guest to follow you to your work station and strengthen your relationship with your guest
If your facility does not have a friendly drive through, be sure to invite your guest to follow you to their vehicle. Always be mindful of weather conditions, if necessary you can simply ask your guest the wait a moment while you go to the vehicle and gather some information so you can better assist them. Then listen to what it is they are concerned with and offer solutions.
Keep Your Promise
Do what you say you’re going to do. This step involves your entire operation. EVERYONE! Fix the vehicle right the first time.
Call the guests with an update when you say you’re going to call, This is critical to your guests perception of you and your store. Keep your guest informed no matter what the information is. Be sure the repair order total is at the price you quoted, or less. This is a big part of meeting and exceeding their expectations.
Wrap up your guest experience with a presentation of your professionalism have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Be ready with the repair order completed and make sure it represents a value based document for your guest to take. Ask for future business.
This step brings it all together. To make that lasting impression, call your guest after the service is performed. Bring your efforts to the forefront and let your guest know that they were your top priority. Ask for future business. Make that future appointment. Be ready to ask if you have earned the right to service their automotive needs again.
What do you think your guest will think of you and your store if you just got a call from them to ask a question and you called back in a couple of days and said “I was thinking of our conversation the other day and I was wondering how you made out?”
There is a lot to do in our business to earn the right to retain our guests. It is not easy, but can develop into a process for success. So, let’s start with the next person that calls or walks in. Guess what? Our competition does!
When you think about it, everything we do for our guests is to service them again one more time.
Set the stage for you to become their “my mechanic”.