Little Things That Mean Alot
In terms of being competitive, doing a great job doesn’t do anything for you. You see, everybody does a great job. From a customer’s perspective, changing the oil and filter, installing an air filter properly or changing my wiper blades without fanfare are givens. There’s nothing special about doing the service properly. I expect it. It’s a mundane chore that must be done. You did it. I paid you. End of story. I’ll probably never mention it to anyone and will routinely scan the coupon pages for where I can get it done at the lowest cost.
To effectively compete, it’s the little things that mean a lot — and deserve your focus. To get me to choose you over others, doesn’t it make sense that you must provide me a reason? There must be something you do that the others don’t. If there is nothing different, why shouldn’t I just go to the closest or cheapest provider? It deserves some serious thought because the bottom line of your business depends on whether I — and thousands of others — choose you. If you just open your doors and hope, don’t expect us to flock to your driveway. You must give us a reason — a difference that inspires us to come to you. The management challenge is to create favorable differences without adding to the time required or the cost. That is your big question to ponder: “What can I add that costs nil to nothing that will create added value or favorable perceptions in the customer’s mind?”
Another thought is, “If I add enough such elements to the job so it’s not perceived as a simple oil and filter change, might I be able to increase my charge price?” Or is “Total car care — 32 service and inspection items — performed by a highly trained team working in a precise sequence simultaneously both over and under your car in only 12 minutes!” worth more than an “oil and filter change?” There’s something to be learned from the way fine restaurants glamorize their offerings.
Just to start you thinking, here are some possibilities:
Do you offer to check the spare? Although many will decline, it’s the thoughtfulness —the caring about my welfare — that generates the favorable perception. It’s similar to offering your guest at home a drink or appetizer when they arrive.
Do you offer a courtesy phone? Sure, most everyone carries their own cell nowadays, but if you have high immigrant demographics, investigate Vonage. It’s a phone service that provides unlimited calling, locally and to 60 foreign countries, at a very reasonable annual rate. For a few pennies you can add several dollars in perceived value to those who want to call their family or friends in Mexico, France or Guadeloupe while getting their car serviced.
Do you inspect the vehicle and advise the customer of thin brake pads, a leaking exhaust or worn tires? A visual inspection by the lower tech takes little time, but it may provide add-on sales opportunities and indicates concern for the customer’s well-being.
Do you lube door locks and hinges? I know. I know. Door locks and hinges will last forever without lubrication, but we’re talking about customer perception. If the little extra is done, I perceive that the lower tech — who I can’t see — is also doing a very thorough job. Lube the hood locks and hinges for the same reason.