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Auto Repair Shop Owners Need to Exceed


The Need to Exceed by Rick White, President 180BIZ

Today I'll talk about EXCEED. Let’s start with a story.  About two months ago, my wife, Brenda went away for a week.  So… Brandon, our oldest grandson, and I had a guy’s weekend.  We drove up to Washington, D.C. and went to an event called Marvel Heroes Live. We had two front row tickets. The show was 90 minutes of guys playing superheroes going after bad guys with the stage blowing up constantly. Brandon had a blast.

The thing that struck me, believe it or not, was the cotton candy. One of our "take-homes" was a huge bag of cotton candy. Not a big deal, right? You'd expect to see cotton candy and popcorn and things like that at these events. The cotton candy was only, of course, 30 dollars. What amazed me was when we finished the cotton candy there were moist towelettes at the bottom of the bag to wipe your hands with.  Think about that for one second.

Who would have ever thought to ask, “Hey, can you put some of those little moist towelettes at the bottom of my cotton candy bag because my hands will be sticky afterward?” That's right, no one. This blew me away. Each bag had two moist towelettes. All I could think of was, “This is AWESOME!”.  THIS is exceeding customer expectations.

You can't exceed customer expectations if the customer has to ask you for it. At that point, all you can do is MEET their expectation. Exceeding a customer's expectation is being able to see something that's a pain in the neck for your customer and deal with it without them asking. That’s the secret sauce. It's only through observation are you able to see where you can help to make your customers’ day a little better.

When I had my shop was I had my techs put seat covers, floor mats, and a steering wheel protector on every car before they started work. When the techs were done, they would pull the car out front and pull the seat covers, floor mats, and the steering wheel protectors off the cars. I understood what they were trying to do. But I wanted the customer to see those things because I believed that differentiated us from anyone else in the area. I wanted to show them that we cared enough about their vehicle to use these things. For this reason, I said to the techs, “No, no, leave them in the car. Let the customer see them, let them know how much we care”.

And that sounds perfectly logical, right? After this, each customer would pay their bill, say thanks for everything, and walk out. Thirty seconds later they would walk back into the office with this big ball of paper in their hands and give me a dirty look as they slammed dunked those seat covers, floor mats, and steering wheel protectors into our trash can in the office.  After this happened about ten times, I thought, perhaps, that was not such a good idea. There must be a better way.

Did I scrap what I was doing? Nope. I just adjusted it to better meet the customer’s needs and wants. Either the advisor, myself, or our office assistant would walk out to the car with the customer after they paid the bill and we would spray interior cleaner on a clean rag then wipe the outside door handle. Next, we would open the door and we'd pull the seat cover, floor mat, and steering wheel protectors out. We would wipe the shifter lever and clean the inside door handle.  All the while we were doing that, we're talking to the customer about anything EXCEPT the car repair.

I made it a point to learn one new thing about my customer. We did this every time without exception. While talking to them, we would pull the paper protectors out. With the ball of paper in our hands, we would shake the customer's hand and then would, literally, as they were driving away, give them the “grandma good-bye wave”. 

We create a story every day with every customer interaction. It's our ability to meet and exceed their expectations that determine whether our story is miserable, mediocre, or a story of magic. You can intentionally create stories of magic and they don't have to cost a lot of money. How much does each moist towelette cost? Loyalty is not nurtured in a customer by simply meeting their expectations. Loyalty comes after consistently exceeding your customers’ expectations and blowing them away every time.

So, my question to you is this. What are YOU going to do this week to exceed YOUR customer's expectations? It doesn't have to be a big thing. If your parking lot is always full, set aside a couple of spots so your customers will know where to park. Get a few little signs that say, "customer drop off." Do something little like that so your customers won’t have to go looking for their car. Have it parked out front, warmed up or cooled off, depending on the time of year. Little things like these make all the difference in the world.

Pick one area right now, that you will promise to yourself and to your staff to get better at and exceed in this week.

Take care, God bless.