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Sympathy for the Car Customer March 3, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Auto Shop Internal Process, Car shops.
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I think it’s hard for a Service Advisor or manager to always act with sympathy.  When you see 30 customers or more per day you start to lose your care for each person’s car problem.  People want you to not only care but, to realize that it has disrupted their day.  We as car people start to see cars as all the same. 

Whenever you start to lose your care for each individual customer remember that it is more then just a “Car Problem.”  Here is what the customer thinks about.  1. How much is this going to cost? 2. What is the problem? 3. When can the shop look at it?  4. How am I going to get it to the shop?  5. How am I going to get around? The list goes on.

Put yourself in a customer’s position who has just purchased a new car.  It is incredibly frustrating when you purchase a new vehicle so that you don’t have to worry about it breaking down and then something breaks on it.


Women in Automotive January 27, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Automotive, Car shops.
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The idea of a woman working in an auto repair shop has become somewhat of a norm in todays society.  But, you would be amazed at how thick of a skin a woman needs to have in this environment.  If you are a woman planning on starting a career as a Service Advisor, here are some of the things you will have to handle.

1. When you answer the phone be prepared to be mistaken as the receptionist and not a Service Advisor.  Also, there is a certain feeling of disappointment you hear in the customers voice when you explain who you are. (this only happens approx. 1 in 100 calls)

2. Some customers will blatantly ask to speak to a man.

3. When you explain a repair to a customer there is the odd person who will not believe you.  Unfortunately it will take a “male” service advisor saying the very same thing to get them to listen.

4. Know your stuff.  Auto techs will test you out.  If you know your way around a car you will gain their respect. 

Don’t think any of these things are a daily occurrence.  I am a man who cannot speak from a woman’s point of view but, I would say it probably happens at least 1 time every month (possibly more).

There are a lot of positives to think about if you are a woman entering a career as a Service Advisor.  There are many customers, both female and male, who feel more comfortable talking to a woman.  You may have to prove yourself first, but, once you gain their respect, you will have a customer for a lifetime.

Motivating your Auto Techs January 23, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Auto Shop Internal Process, Car shops.
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This question goes out to all Service Managers.  Recently I wrote a post about paying attention to detail and how it benefits the tech in the end.  Dwayne from Carriage Works made a good point, motivation plays a factor in making sure your techs are doing a good job. 

I worked at a shop that paid spiffs to the lube rack guys.  If they found a deep crack in a belt, leaking rear main seal, howling belt tensioner, etc., they were paid the spiff when the customer did the repair.  The ONLY reason I believe this worked in our shop was because our techs had been there for years, and they had proven their honesty.  Any new tech needs to realize that every repair he/she does will be rechecked or they will have to show you.  We still had to get the senior tech doing the repair to reinspect the faults before they went forward.  The program did make the lube guys work harder and inspect the vehicles more thoroughly. 

 I know an auto tech is suppose to do a thorough inspection on each oil change, but I don’t think it hurts to add extra motivation or incentive.

What motivation or incentive do you use? 

Happy, Loyal, Auto Shop Customers January 19, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Automotive, Car shops.
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I would say 75-80% of the people who come into an auto shop are there out of necessity, not by choice.  Car problems are never planned. It’s not enjoyable to know that you are going to have to pay a bill just to get your vehicle back into original working condition.  But, when you are treated properly, with fairness, it is easier to handle the bill and accept it.  The way an auto shop treats its customers is how brand loyalty is built.

It may shock you but, when I was working at an auto shop, we had people almost on a  weekly basis bringing us donuts, pastries and other gifts.  We had earned their respect, and they were grateful.  We let them know that when something went wrong on their vehicle, they could turn to us. 

Sometimes, when you work in an industry with a low public opinion, it is easier to impress.  Something as simple as changing a light bulb for free would even get people offering us tips.  There are plenty of areas where an auto shop can take initiative and go the extra mile.  The most crucial element in building happy and loyal customers is to treat people with FAIRNESS. 

The Difference between Great and Terrible Auto Techs January 15, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Uncategorized.
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I have seen the full spectrum of auto technicians. The techs that didn’t last were the ones that didn’t put any care into their work. You could tell right away that they had already decided being a car tech was not the right choice for them.  But, I had the priviledge of working with a technician that made it to the world finals for the manufacturer he worked for.  He ended up placing 2nd in Japan.  What set him apart?

The personality trait that I believe helped him achieve this was his methodical approach and attention to detail.  No matter how difficult or easy the issue was, he approached everything with the same care.  In auto repair you can’t miss a single detail.  If you think the tire vibration is just a balance problem and don’t take the time to drive the car once you are finished then, you are going to have a comeback.   You can’t assume anything.  Once a repair has been completed make sure you are 100% correct. 

In the end it is the auto tech who pays attention to detail that ends up with less comebacks and more hours at the end of the month.

Auto Shop Attitudes January 8, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Uncategorized.
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The most important part of any auto shop is ATTITUDE.  I have come to accept that my car will not always be fixed on the first visit to the shop.  But, that is not the part that affects how I view the shop.  For the most part, we all understand that problems arise whenever something is being repaired.  However, it is the ATTITUDE the shop portrays that affects our view. 

How do they treat you on the phone?  Do they listen and put themselves in your position when you explain your problem?  After a repair, when you call back, do they dismiss your concerns as being ridiculous?  Do they act impartial in terms of the quality of work they have completed?

You can gain a lot of information just from your first phone conversation with a repair shop.  If they treat you as if they are doing you a favor to look at your car, then find someone else.  This is the type of ATTITUDE that shows how they are going to treat you from there on out.  Remember, you are doing them a favor by bringing your car in, not the other way around. 

Listen to how they react to your car concerns. The ATTITUDE you should hear from them is empathy.  Words and sentences such as, “that is unfortunate” or, “I am sorry to hear that you’re in that situation” tell you a great deal on how they treat their customers.  You need to be treated as a person and one with a real issue.  You don’t want to be treated like just another customer with a problem.

When a repair has not been done properly a professional shop will take responsibility and have an open mind to your concerns.  You can tell right away the integrity and professionalism of a shop, based on their own opinion of their work.  A professional shop knows that it is impossible to repair every car perfectly.  However, all they need to do is take another look and remedy the situation.

I think everyone is aware that it is impossible to repair a car perfectly every time, but, it is possible to show the proper ATTITUDE.

Do all Auto Repair Shops try to Rip People Off? January 7, 2008

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Automotive, Car shops.
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Depends on who you talk to.  There are no shortages of negative reports and stories on the net about people who have been treated unfairly at a shop. But, there are countless amounts of outstanding shops in the industry. 

The difficulty in repairing cars is that the causes are not always clear cut.  Unfortunately, it can take time to correctly find a particular problem, and it can be more than just one part causing an issue.  For instance, most electrical problems are caused by many parts along the same wiring route.  You can’t find out for sure until you replace each part as you go along. 

The majority of time, a person who feels that they were ripped off was probably not contacted properly by the shop.  It comes down to a lack of communication, and this is where problems occur.  Most shops are now aware that word of mouth can either build their business or destroy it.

Overall this is why we have started www.Ratemyrepairshop.com. Here you are able to rate your auto shop. Now we will be able to screen out the good from the bad.  With your help, other people will be able to find out which shops are the best around.

Are you Getting the Best Service at Your Auto Shop? December 22, 2007

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Car shops.
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Here is a list of how you should be treated at an Auto Repair Shop. Listed in the full auto repair shop cycle:

  1. Do they make it easy to book an appointment?
  2. Are they courteous on the phone?
  3. Do they set up or offer alternative transportation? 
  4. Do they ask the appropriate questions in order to fully understand what the problem is?
  5. When you are providing answers, does the Service Advisor listen and write it down?
  6. Does the Service Advisor try to diagnose the issue before a technician looks at the problem? The answer should “NOT” be yes.
  7. A diagnose charge should be provided before you sign the Work Order.
  8. The Service Advisor contacts you before any charges exceed what you were told.
  9. A full cost estimate is provided before any repairs are done.
  10. Ideally you should be given parts pricing options. Eg.  The price for an OEM part compared to going with an aftermarket brand.
  11. Service Advisor underpromises never overpromises. 
  12. Cost of repair is exactly what you were told.
  13. Most important is that the vehicle is actually repaired properly the first time. 

This is a good way to find out if your shop is offering you their best.  Keep in mind this is an ideal situation.  Personally I look for the people that offer me the best attitude.

Does the Safety Rating affect Your Vehicle Purchase? December 16, 2007

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in cars.
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The media sells us speed, style, comfort, the sound system, wheels, etc, etc. on today’s car models.  But, what about the safety rating of the car itself?  The majority of us have had car accidents affect our lives in one way or another.  It happens so quickly and they are hard to avoid.  Perhaps many of us can count recent “close calls” that could have turned bad. 

I recently purchased a 2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R and I must admit it was the style and power that drew me to the car.  However it was the safety rating that made me want to buy the car.  I live in an area where the roads are icy throughout the winter.  When I am driving in winter conditions it feels good to know that I am protected by side and front airbags. There are safer cars on the market and I know the next vehicle purchase I make will be solely based on safety.

Maybe we should all be driving Audi’s and Subaru’s.

Do Women get Ripped off at Auto Repair Shops? December 9, 2007

Posted by ratemyrepairshop in Automotive.
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Most people do not realize it but, 65% of auto repair shop customers are women.  I have worked in 2 different auto shops over the course of 6 years.  I soon realized that the women coming to the shop often felt uncomfortable.  They felt that if they didn’t understand how an engine or transmission worked they would be treated unfairly.  But, people are people.  It depends entirely on which shop you go to, not your gender.  If you go to a shop where they could care less about their integrity and more about the bottom line, then you may be in for a large bill.  Again, even if a man were to go to a shop like this and didn’t know very much about automotive, he would probably be overcharged as well.

The best thing to do is, find a respectful shop that treats their customers with care.  I am proud to say that both of the shops I worked at never took advantage of women or men.  I was taught that a Service Advisor’s job is to help everyone with their automotive questions.  I don’t believe it matters which gender you are, but, if you don’t know very much about your vehicle, then you had better make sure you are going to a reputable shop. 

That is why www.ratemyrepairshop.com  was launched.  We want to give people the ability to find the best auto repair shops in their area.