Everything worked out and the car is fixed and running, perfectly. Your customer comes to collect their car, you collect their payment, get their signature and they drive away. A few minutes later, the phone rings and the caller ID shows that customer's name and your heart sinks! Reluctantly, you pick up the phone and the customer tells you that their car is running smoothly and thanks you profusely.
Honestly, this isn’t what likely happens. Usually a customer calls to tell you that there is a problem with their car. The “ever since you touched my car…” game has started and, in my opinion, this will rarely end with the shop on the upside. You take the call and ask the customer to bring the vehicle back into your shop so you can check it out. The customer agrees but is clearly irritated. You walk over to the bay and ask the technician if he noticed anything during the inspection. The technician says NO and replies the car was in perfect shape when he test drove it after the repair.
How can this be prevented or at least controlled? An experienced advisor/manager is a master of control.
My definition of control is the ability to start, stop, and restart a situation in a different direction. Once you see a situation developing, it is very important to have someone in the front of the shop that has the ability to STOP the situation before it becomes out of control. One of the tools I have found very effective in controlling the “Ever Since You Touched My Car” game is to control the process in which the car was delivered. Having a formal and consistent process intact involves the active delivery of the customer's vehicle which also involves the customer agreeing and acknowledging that their vehicle has been repaired. This can work wonders.
This agreement disperses the responsibility, as everyone is in alignment when the vehicle is released. This process will take more time upfront, but will save time and frustration in the end. This will also help build long-term trust and loyalty with your customers to ensure that they will return to your shop time and time again.
Just like having a vehicle intake process in place, having an active delivery process that involves the customer is equally important. This process should involve a test drive with the customer after the repairs are complete, to ensure the repairs were made and the problem was corrected. During the test drive, it is important to verify all warning lights are off and everything is functioning as designed. If something visible is replaced, take a moment to show the customer the new part. By doing this, you will elevate your staff as experts in the eyes of your customer.
After a short test drive, in which you let the customer drive a couple blocks, make sure you get the customer's signature and acknowledgement that they agree that the repairs were completed to their satisfaction. Having the customer in agreement is important and highlights your shops attention to detail. After everyone is in agreement, it is time to collect their payment and send the happy customer on their way.
I know that you are thinking that the above is very time consuming and unrealistic. I want to tell you that I have done this before and it works. It elevates your expertise in the customer's eyes, it builds relationships, and it ensures that everyone is in agreement, especially when the vehicle is discharged. You may still get that occasional phone call after they leave but at least you know, and more importantly, the customer knows that when the vehicle was delivered to them it was working and “that” noise that they were describing was no longer present.
Click here to download the sample delivery sheet.
These articles are expressed only as my
own personal opinion and I appreciate your feedback below in the comments, even if you disagree. I also wouldn’t suggest something I haven’t successfully executed in my professional career. I am attaching a walk-around sheet that is similar to one I have used in the past. Feel free to use it or some incarnation of the form. My only request is that if you choose to use this form, make an effort to monitor the success of the process and provide your feedback in the comments below.