Learning to stand out in a positive way to our customers is a topic I’m super-passionate about. Here are a few pointers to help you and your team stand out.
1. Talk to Your Customers
First and foremost, never be afraid to talk to customers. Whether it’s your customer or just a service customer in general, at least say hello. If you see someone waiting in the waiting room, stop by and ask how they’re doing or what their car is in for. That starts to change not only the feel of the shop, but it changes how you see customers. Instead of seeing someone as just bringing you their car, you start to see them as someone you care about and have a vested interest in.
It’s fun to have long-term customers, they come in time after time and, eventually, year after year. Their kids wind up coming to you because they’ve seen you over the years, and you’re their guy. And that’s a really good feeling. It really does build an awesome rapport – not only between you and the customer, but the customer and the shop as well.
I’ve worked with a lot of technicians who really didn’t want to talk to customers. Their attitude was “I’m here to fix cars. I’m not here to work with customers.” Well, that’s not really true. Yes, we’re here to fix cars. We’re here to put parts on cars, do maintenance, make repairs, do diagnostics, but we also tend to forget that there’s someone on the other side of the vehicle. There’s a customer attached to that vehicle. There’s a customer who relies on that car to get to work, to take the kids to soccer practice, to go out on date night…so we have to remember, it’s not just fixing the car, it’s working with the customer and taking care of them as well.
So never be afraid to have that interaction with a customer in the shop.
2. Be Their Hero
Be the person who’s there for them in their time of need. Most people don’t really like to get their car serviced, and nobody likes to have a catastrophic breakdown. So if you’re the person who’s there for them to help them out in a situation, you’re going to stand out more than any other technician out there.
Basically you want to build a relationship with the customer so they know 100% that you’re going to take care of it. This rapport may not happen overnight, but with some hard work and time, you can really show a customer that you’re there for them. You’re the one who’s going to step up to the plate for them and make sure their car’s fixed right.
3. Leave Them a Note
This could be something as simple as a note on their repair order saying, “Thanks for bringing your car in today” or “Love the SportWagen” or “Really cool wheels.”
Another idea that I think is great for techs is to have your own business cards. If your shop doesn’t pay for them, spend a little money and have some made. You can get some really cool custom ones, and leave one in your customer’s car. Let them know that “Joe is the one who worked on your car today. I really appreciate you for bringing it in.”
Or, if you’re doing multi-point inspections, write a little extra on there: “Hey, your car looks great. See you in 5,000 miles. Thanks, Bill.” Doing these little personalized things for the customer makes your name stand out. Remember, you and the shop owner want that customer to come back to the shop, but you as a technician want the customer to come back to you. It’s like running your own little service department inside the service station. Leaving the customer something tangible with your name on it goes a long way.
There’s something that’s super-awesome about a customer coming back and saying, “Charles worked on my car last time, and he left this business card. I’d like him to work on my car today.” It feels really good when you see on the repair order: “Customer requests Charles.” And, as you build this relationship with more and more customers, you find yourself with this huge group of customers that are never going to go anywhere else because they’ve found the person that they know is going to be their hero and take care of them no matter what happens.
4. Tell Them What Their Car Doesn’t Need
A lot of times customers have this expectation when they come in for service. They’re thinking, “They’re going to write up my car and find 100 things; it’s going to cost me $4,000, and I don’t want to hear it. I just want to get my oil changed and get out.”
There are techs and shops that will sell just to sell, but there’s a better way to go. A good example is when you’ve got a car that has four or five things wrong with it. Let’s say the tires are bald, the brakes are metal to metal, it needs new wiper blades, and the timing belt and air filter are due to be replaced.
It’s important from a technician’s standpoint that we tell the customer the things that are wrong, especially when it’s a safety item – the tires and brakes. Where we really can win and stand out to our customers is when we’re telling them about the things it doesn’t need today. Let them know that they’ve got some things coming down the line that will need to be taken care of, but aren’t a must for today. Doing so lends a lot of credibility to you as a technician from a customer’s standpoint.
Now they’ll have it in the back of their mind; they can start budgeting for it, and then when they come back in another 10,000 miles, you’re going to tell them again, “Hey, next service, your timing belt’s going to be due.”
Then, when they come in for their timing belt, they’ve got your business card in their hand, they’ll say, “Charles told me that I needed my timing belt done. I’m finally at that mileage. Let’s get that replaced today.”
And if you don’t find anything wrong with their car, let them know that too. “I looked at the brakes, belts, hoses, tires – everything looks good. Your car’s in awesome shape. We’ll see you again in 10,000 miles. My name’s Charles, here’s my business card. Have a great day.”
Just that few seconds interacting with a customer in a positive way helps build a good rapport with the customer. It lends a ton of credibility to your name, your brand and the work that you do.
5. Make Sure They Understand the Value that You’re Giving Them
For me, this is probably one of the hardest ones to do because I don’t want to be the person who really brags about all the wonderful things that I did for a customer. That’s my job. My job is to be there for the customer, take care of them, get their car fixed. But a lot of us technicians tend to sell our value a little bit short.
We have a ton of automotive knowledge – it doesn’t matter what level technician you are, you’ve got to know some stuff. Obviously, the higher level technician you are, the more you need to know. But a lot of times customers don’t really see that. They don’t understand that it took three days of training to understand how this system works in order for me to diagnose the car with whatever problem it’s got. They just think we hook the computer up, punch in some numbers and it tells us to replace this part, we replace the part and charge the customer $500. They might not understand how much it takes to be a good technician. Not only in just tools, but also in training, in knowledge, in memory and in experience. They don’t understand that. And, to be honest, they don’t really need to. They need to know you’re there for them to fix their vehicle.
So if you take a few minutes to really teach them about some of these things, for example, if the customer’s car has a problem with the CAN bus, and you take a few minutes to explain an overview of what the CAN bus is, and how it works and how all the other modules in the vehicle interact with each other, now you’ve said to the customer, “Look, I understand the system; this is not an easy thing, this is a ton of high-level computer stuff. I know a lot about this. Here’s what I did to fix your vehicle.”
In addition, not only explaining what you’ve done and explaining the value you brought to the situation, you’ve taught the customer something. Now when they hear these words, they know a little bit about the system, empowering them to make good choices and make them understand their vehicle a little bit better – and to be confident in your ability to make a good repair.
What it all boils down to is building a good relationship with your customer, making sure whenever a customer thinks about getting their car serviced, they don’t have anybody else’s name in mind but yours. You want to build a relationship with customers where if they came to your shop and you weren’t there, they would reschedule and come back when you are. That’s how you stand out to a customer. That’s how you build your own little Rolodex of customers that only come to you and won’t ever go anywhere else.
So what is one thing that you do different from everybody else to stand out to your customers?
Post your answer in the show notes at bit.ly/HM-Stand-Out and see what other techs are doing as well.