Designing a Comfortable Lobby
Customers like to shop around, and getting that repeat visitor can be a challenge. First impressions matter, and something like a dirty lobby or poor customer service can make or break a customer’s experience.
Running a quick lube, like any business, will have a focus on customer service and interaction. A friendly demeanor and safe environment can be keys to bringing in new customers and becoming a staple of other customers’ quick lube needs. That same thing can be applied to the setup and comfortability of the quick lube’s lobby.
For fully drive-thru quick lubes, the waiting area isn’t necessary. But for those who use them, the space can be an important piece of the puzzle. Keeping clean, providing entertainment and satisfying the customer all go into growing a small business.
The ability to provide a reliable service without any hitches comes first, but your ability to do that could be called into question by unpleasant appearances. For Kwik Kar at Craig Ranch owner Brian Pellerin, the effort put into a comfortable waiting room can only help.
“We built our shop and one of the things we wanted was to make sure we had a nice comfortable waiting room,” Pellerin says.
Pellerin says the challenge of keeping customers and showing you are a reliable business can be tough if you don’t pay attention to little details. Everything will be looked at by a customer.
While they may appreciate the service, they first have to get that far without noticing a dirty lobby or other potential problems. Much like a house going on sale, anything that is wrong with the house will give the impression that there is much more wrong under the surface.
The lobby is important in this regard and the maintenance of a comfortable waiting room can help to attract customers.
Keep Things Squeaky
Quick lube shop owners should focus the extra space they have on a clean design and overall appearance more than anything. The cleanliness of his shop is something that Pellerin doesn’t overlook.
Based in McKinney, Texas, Pellerin runs Kwik Kar at Craig Ranch. His main focus is his shop’s reliability in providing its services, but he has taken steps to make every part of the experience comfortable for customers.
Pellerin has taken a no-mistakes approach, saying the most important thing about a lobby or waiting room is that it’s clean. When a customer walks in, they don’t want anything to look wrong or out of place. If a shop can’t get little details right then what could they get wrong when they work your vehicle.
“I don’t think people come here because of the lobby, but I do think that when they see that it’s clean in the lobby and see that it’s clean outside it’s like, ‘Hey, they at least care,’” Pellerin says. “We do get a little bit of feedback on how clean it is.”
The main goal of Pellerin is still to make sure he and his team run a reliable operation, but the first impressions are still an important point of focus. Customer service is taken seriously as well, which keeps in line with his goals of a neat appearance and reliability.
There is a lot more that goes into a successful lobby, but the first impression, Pellerin says, will be the most important thing.
Entertainment and Add-ons
The tidiness of the lobby is important to establish your shop as a serious business to Pellerin, but he also understands the importance of entertainment and good design choices.
“You don’t want to save money on something that’s going to be there for 20 years,” Pellerin says. “You don’t have to go overboard and buy marble or something, you just have to get something that looks nice and tasteful.”
A lot of money goes into starting a business, so it can be tempting to cut costs where it seems like it won’t matter, but Pellerin urges against this idea. Things like flooring and interior design don’t seem as important, but these are things that will not change for long periods of time.
Small business owners don’t have to break the bank, but Pellerin says that decisions like these need to be taken seriously. The costs won’t be too much if you’re smart and think about the long-term value.
For entertainment, Pellerin turns to a couple small things that don’t necessarily set him apart from other quick lubes, but do reach his goals of providing a safe and comfortable environment. Pellerin’s lobby is equipped with two television sets. One is for entertainment, while the other lists the services that Kwik Kar at Craig Ranch provides.
“I’ve got one that’s for entertainment and we’ve got the volume turned up because I don’t want them to necessarily hear all the hollering and screaming going on outside the shop,” Pellerin says. “[...] I have another TV that I call my silent marketing TV.”
The televisions provide entertainment, while also advertising his business, bringing in its own value. The advertisement of their own services is something Pellerin says will sometimes help customers ask about problems that their vehicles might have.
Another piece of entertainment that can help the business and the customers is a kids play area. Attached to the lobby at Kwik Kar at Craig Ranch is a children’s play area. The room is connected to the lobby, making sure parents can stay in the lobby without the kids running off or getting lost.
While it’s not exactly entertainment for parents, it is an enjoyable area for kids and provides something to do while parents are taking their vehicles in.
“The room is set up to where they can’t escape the lobby, they have to come through the lobby to get back outside,” Pellerin says.
Once you’ve chosen a layout, furniture, and major investments for your lobby, it’s the details and upkeep that make a difference over the long term. Pellerin demonstrates this with a clean and entertaining lobby.
Pellerin says that the state of his waiting area is a reflection of the level of service his shop provides. He wants customers to feel that if the company is paying close attention to the quality of the lobby, then the technicians will do the same with their vehicles in the shop bays.
To Pellerin, the service will always be the most important, but the customer lobby is a solid investment to keep the standards of the company up. But at the end of the day, the lobby still has to go hand-in-hand with the most important things in the business.
“I really think it’s more important what we do with our customer service and what we do to keep our customers happy,” Pellerin says. “That’s king.”