Running a Shop

Customers’ Expectations

Order Reprints

				female-employee

Our customers expect you to be an expert! Everyone agrees that today’s vehicles have become technically sophisticated pieces of equipment.

In the past, the owner’s manual would have sections on how to service various components on our vehicles. In some cases, vehicle manufacturers would also include a user-friendly toolbox to assist owners in performing different maintenance requirements on the vehicles. Automakers designed and built a vehicle that was user-friendly with the expectation that the owner would perform their own maintenance. Over the years, we have developed a term for these folks — do-it-yourselfers (DIY). These days, most owners’ manuals suggest returning to the dealership for needed services and the DIYers are mostly gear heads who would never consider taking their cars to a shop. Because of this and other circumstances, the buying public expects you to be an expert.

An interesting perception that the buying customer has is that if a company has gone to the expense of constructing a building and equipping it with the tools to work on these sophisticated vehicles, then the employees must be experts. Why else would the shop owner go to the expense, if they don’t have experts working on the vehicles? Technicians on the front line will tell you that educating a customer is not a gender issue or a generational issue, because every part of our society suffers from vehicle illiteracy. Even retired mechanics will confess that today’s vehicles are complicated. In the past, our public schools offered vocational car repair classes for those who wanted to pursue a career in automotive repair. Now, entire institutions have been developed that spend millions of dollars on curriculum and classrooms to teach the next generation of technicians how to diagnose and repair a vehicle. It is no wonder that the driving public’s first expectation for your shops is that your crews are experts in servicing vehicles. It is only when we prove that we are not experts that the customer is disappointed.

Other Customer Expectations

Additional services have become as much a part of our industry as changing the oil and filter. Our customers have proven that if we offer the products and the services they need, they would prefer to buy them from us. Professionalism and training is the key to success in performing these services. Shops that have an aggressive training schedule not only ensure the service is performed correctly, but good training also gives your techs the ability, confidence and professionalism that your customers are expecting of you.

Many suppliers are recognizing the need for programs to continue training technicians in various fields. Most franchises have revamped or renewed their training procedures and guidelines. If you are not aggressively pursuing a continued training program, then, quite frankly, you are missing the boat.

Talk to your suppliers, warehouses or franchisors and ask what is available. If none of these organizations can help, consider the Automotive Oil Change Association. AOCA has several management training courses throughout the year to address this critical component in our industry. For 2019, AOCA has enlisted Kevin Davis, a successful operator and skilled trainer, to guide your management in proven best practices for today’s quick oil and lube shop.

Never stop training. It’s one thing I know that’s guaranteed to put money back in your pocket!

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