-By Kristopher Hampton for AutoSuccess Magazine.
When we’ve been in the automotive business for a long period of time, it can be hard to relate to what our guests are experiencing. But when I go into automotive service facilities as a customer, I often end up with some extremely valuable insight.
Recently I took my car in to get a simple service. I did not make an “appointment” because they advertise a quick lube service. I pulled into the very clearly labeled “QuickLube Service Lane” and waited for someone to acknowledge me.
Five employees made eye contact, yet walked on by. Finally an advisor looked at me and asked, “You been helped?” rather abruptly. It was obvious he was in a hurry to get somewhere and it wasn’t to help me. There was no greeting or welcome, and I was already feeling like this may have been a mistake. But wait, it gets even worse. Just put yourself in my shoes and see how this reception would make you – and more importantly, your clients – feel.
Advisor: Do you have an appointment?
Me: No, but I just need an oil change.
Advisor: (Laughing) We can’t get you in without an appointment unless you want to be here for 5 hours.
Me: Wow, okay. I just thought I would try since I saw the QuickLube sign above the garage door.
Advisor: We do nothing quickly around here (laughing again). Take this card and call in to make an appointment. You can just back out of here before you get stuck with a car behind you.
Did this advisor really just tell me to leave? In our business, the client’s perception is crucial. I was made to feel stupid and in his way in less than sixty seconds. Make sure your service team doesn’t get in a hurry and forget that each person who enters your drive should be treated as well as a welcome guest in his or her home. New clients and opportunities are literally lining up on your drive to spend money. It’s the best sales job scenario in the world if it is handled correctly.
Let’s think beyond this advisor’s one missed opportunity and consider the potential trickle down effect. What if I had decided to write a negative review or post? This one instance of poor treatment of clients would be passed on to other potential clients. Most women read a minimum of three reviews before they enter your store. If hundreds of women have read one bad review, then we have alienated hundreds, if not thousands, of potential long-term guests because of a lack of training for a professional greeting. Can you afford to take this risk? Let’s look at an example of how we can make each guest feel valued no matter how busy your store may be.
Advisor: Good morning! (smile) Welcome to __________. My name is John. And you are?
Customer: Hello. My name is Kris.
Advisor: Are we expecting you today Kris?
Customer: No, I don’t have an appointment, but thought I’d try to get my oil changed since I saw the QuickLane sign on the door.
Advisor: We appreciate your business and I am happy take care of your car for you. We’re a little backed up at the moment; so let me provide a couple of options that might work for you. You can leave your car for the afternoon and we can provide alternate transportation, or I can set up a check-in time for another day so you can experience the exceptional service of our QuickLube facility. Which of these options would be best for you? Great then let’s get started by getting your information. Again my name is Kris and I appreciate the opportunity to become your service advisor.
This simple change in communication is all it takes to start off with an impressive first impression. I would’ve gladly set an appointment for another day if that advisor had made me feel like a welcome guest. And that advisor could have had me as a long-term client by just taking sixty seconds to welcome me.
So now I have a big question for you: What type of greeting do your guests receive when they walk in your door? We recommend that you develop a professional greeting for your stores. Train, role-play and have someone mystery shop to make sure your team follows through. After all, training for customer retention is a lot more cost effective than new customer acquisition.