Lubing the Odds of Gaining Customer Feedback

Sept. 29, 2023
Encourage customer perspective about their shop experience.

Most busy vehicle owners don’t want to steer into your quick lube in the first place. They pull into your parking lot because it’s time and they simply have to.

But if they have a good experience when they stop in for service, you’re likely to see them again and they’re likely to give you a favorable review. So, it behooves shop owners to go the extra mile to understand what customers like—and don’t like—about their experience in the shop.

“In general repair, it’s all about the relationship, but in quick lube it’s more transactional,” notes Kevin Vaught, executive council member at Elite Worldwide, a team of industry experts that coaches shop owners around the country.

To illustrate Vaught’s point, an auto repair shop might service 300 cars a month on average, allowing enough time for the shop to interact with each customer in the process. Quick lube businesses, on the other hand, might serve 1,200 cars each month, with customers in and out in a flash. But in both scenarios, cultivating a relationship with the customer is equally critical, Vaught notes, because that relationship can increase the likelihood that a customer will open up and share insights.

So, how can a lube shop owner make sure the business transaction process leads to repeat business with a customer? And to ongoing business that’s conducive to building a shop-client relationship?

Vaught says quick lube businesses must ace these eight simple touch points for success—tactics he learned early on while running five successful shops simultaneously (and then effectively retiring at age 42).

  1. Make sure your people answer the phone the same way each time—and that it’s pleasant.
  2. Consider what the customer sees when they drive up to your business. What does your shop look like from the road?
  3. When a customer walks in the door, does the shop look and smell clean? (Do your people behind the counter wear name tags? They should, Vaught says.)
  4. Consider the greeting a customer will receive as they come through the door. It should be friendly and, if possible, it should include the lost art of calling people by name, Vaught says, explaining, “It’s an anxiety-reducer. And we have to do whatever we can to bring down the anxiety level of the customer.”
  5. Decide how your business will present its work to the customer. As Vaught says, “I don’t like the term ‘sell’—we ‘present.’” So consider: How will you handle the presentation? “Don’t simply walk up to the customer with a dirty air filter in your hand,” Vaught states.
  6. Keep the customer updated on their service. Today, that is best accomplished with a text, Vaught says. That way, the customer knows exactly what’s going on with their car and when it will be ready to roll. No anxiety, and no pacing the floor.
  7. The sales transaction: When you take their money, remember to thank them. The handling of this transaction sets up the next sale, according to Vaught, who says, “Don’t just rush through and grab the credit card.”
  8. This is where the rubber ultimately meets the road. Find out from the customer how their service went and how your people did. Vaught says one successful way to gain customer feedback in a quick lube scenario is to send customers an automated text after the service, thanking them for their business and asking them to leave a review. Another way is to simply call them. “Keep it very open-ended,” he suggests. “Ask, ‘Bill, how’d my people do?’ If they didn’t like something, maybe even something trivial like grease on their door handle, they’ll say. And you’ll have a chance to fix it.”

In order to ensure a good customer experience each time, like clockwork, Vaught says these eight touch points should become policy.

“This is how we do it, and we do it every day,” he emphasizes. “But if you don’t have a written process, it won’t last.”

And he adds, “All these things cost nothing, but they add value through the roof.”

Value that will bring customers rolling up to your business again and again—and sharing equally valuable feedback about the experience.