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Auto Repair Shop Owners: Improve Communication to Reduce Comebacks


Improve Communication to Reduce Comebacks

by Rick White, President 180BIZ                                                                (Estimated Read Time 4 minutes)

One of my favorite quotes is by Oscar Wilde.  He said, “The greatest tragedy in communication is the illusion that it's taken place.” That is an amazing quote to start with because we're still talking about comebacks. One of the major reasons why you have comebacks is because there isn’t clear communication. 

You’re so busy that you stop listening.

And why is there the illusion that it has taken place?  The illusion of communication happens when you are so busy talking that you stop listening. You are so busy trying to get your point across and to get people to agree with you that you aren't listening.  

So, how do you make sure that this illusion goes away? You do it by asking questions, staying curious, and seeking to understand before being understood. Once you do that, it changes everything.

We suffer from selective hearing.

Many of us suffer from selective hearing. We only listen for stuff that we want to hear. And it's a real issue. What happens is you start to listen to someone and hear the first few sentences. You think you know where it’s going. So, you begin to think about what you want to say or how you’ll respond instead of listening further.   

What they have to say is much more important than what you have to say.

Next is not being on the same page because we're so busy pushing something. It’s when a client that thinks one thing and the advisor, shop owner, or manager thinks another thing.  And that is a big deal.

I recently talked to a shop owner who had a fairly new advisor. He had a client with a check engine light issue. They found an issue and the advisor said, “Oh yeah, that's going to take care of it.” When you are walking away from a communication, make sure that what your client believes they're buying is what you believe you're selling. So, in the end, that particular solution did fix the problem. The shop stepped up and fixed the problem for free because this new advisor misspoke. We all learn the hard way sometimes. The lesson here is we must make sure that we're both on the same page.


Be sure they understand what’s going on.

When you think you're selling this and they think they're buying that, there is an issue. That's a cause for a comeback. So let me give you another example. You have a client that comes in with an air conditioning problem. You say, “I will replace the accumulator and the condenser Those are the problems.” Then you don't understand the mentality of a client. They think they're getting a completely new AC system. Why? Because if their AC doesn't work at home, someone pulls the unit out of the window and replaces it with a new unit. That's the way it works. It’s not the same thing in a car. Make sure they understand exactly what's going on.


Is what they think they hear what you think you said?

When you're asking questions and explaining what's happening, be sure that what they think they heard is what you think you said.  You do that by using reflective listening. After you're done talking to someone, ask them what they think. “What did you think I said?” or “What did you hear me say?” or “Would you mind telling me what I said I want to make sure we're on the same page.” You then have three options.

  1. Agree with them and move along as usual.
  2. Realign what's going on. You can say, “Nope. I understand why you're thinking that. Let me clarify…”
  3. Walk away because there are some things you can't fix. Crazy is one of them. If you have someone that needs an engine and insists that they have their car back today, that's a no-win situation. Just walk away. If they can't be malleable and flexible, it won’t work for either of you.


Most comebacks are a result of incomplete communication that’s not verified.

Most of your comebacks could be a result of incomplete communication that's not verified. And on a side note, part of your communication problem is that your documentation isn’t clear. Is it? Most of the time it's not. 

Take care. God bless. Stay safe, have fun, and go make some money.

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