So you’ve been doing some advertising and marketing to get new customers to your auto repair shop, and a first-time customer comes in. After he picks up his car, pays and heads home, how confident are you that he’s going to come back? Remember, this was his first visit. Did everyone in your shop go out of their way to make sure this customer’s experience was good? Did he hear all the things he needed to hear so that you can build a relationship with this customer, earn his trust, and get him to come back again? If you’re 100% sure that your shop does it perfectly every time, you can stop reading here and give yourself a pat on the back. But if you’re human like the rest of us, read on (and share with your staff)!
People are uncomfortable in unfamiliar places. New customers coming to your shop for the first time are going to feel a little anxious. You can put them at ease and make a great first impression by making sure they receive a friendly greeting. Smile. Make eye contact. Say hello and offer them a warm, sincere welcome. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can’t go wrong with “Good morning!” if you have a smile in your voice. Most of all, it has to be genuine.
Have you ever had someone greet you, maybe a Walmart greeter for example, with a tone in his voice that tells you he’d rather be doing something else, but instead he’s stuck offering fake greetings to strangers? Or worse, maybe he ignored you and didn’t acknowledge you at all? That can do more harm than good. Greet customers. Say “Hi,” “Howdy,” or “Hello.” Just be friendly when doing it! You won’t regret it.
“My customers are asking me for service. Why would I ever say ‘please’ to them? They should say ‘please’ to me!” If you agree with that statement at all, go directly back to elementary school manners. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. (That’s an order, I’m not asking please!). Saying “please” is not a sign of weakness or subservience. It is a sign of respect and courtesy. Think you don’t have a reason to say it? Here are a few examples. Pick which version you think your customers will like better.
- On the phone: “Hold on” vs. “Can you please hold for just a minute?”
- When the customer is dropping off the car: “Where’s the key?” vs. “Can I have the key, please?”
- When the customer is paying: “Your card was declined. Got another one?” vs. “I’m sorry, that card didn’t go through. Can I have it or another card to try again, please?”
You get the idea. Saying “please” is just a respectful thing to do. Even if it’s subconscious, your customers will notice and appreciate it when you say it.
You don’t have to be a Yes Man, but you do have to give customers what they want. Unless of course you don’t want any customers! Here are a few examples:
- “I know it’s not public, but can I use your bathroom?” Of course, right this way!
- “This coupon expired; can I still use it?” Of course, we can do that for you! (Disagree? Let me know in the comments.)
- “I’m going on vacation; is it all right if I leave my car here an extra night?” Sure. We’re happy to help!
- “Can I get that service for less money?” (Just checking to see if you’re awake!) Of course you can’t say “yes” to everything, but the point is to remain positive. Even if you can’t say “yes” to a question like this, you can respond positively, and emphasize the value of the service you’re providing. The point here is to remain positive!
The thing to remember here is that the value of your relationships with customers goes well beyond what they’re spending on their current visit. Treat your customers as you would want to be treated, and be willing to go above and beyond to make them happy, and they’ll reward you with more business and referrals to other customers.
Say “I’m Sorry”
Ideally, everything will go well and there won’t be any problems the first time a new customer tries your shop. But if anything doesn’t go according to plan, and the customer has what he feels is a negative experience, there are two ways it can play out. One: you don’t realize the customer was unhappy, or you do realize it but you don’t verbally apologize and explicitly offer to make it right. Either way, forget about any hopes you had for that person to become a repeat customer. Two: you turn the negative into a positive by apologizing sincerely, explaining that you do your best to make sure things like that don’t happen, and making it right by the customer.
Your customers know that you are human. They don’t expect perfection. But if things go wrong, they do expect you to fix it. By apologizing and correcting what went wrong, you’ll actually build even more trust and a stronger relationship with that customer than if nothing had gone wrong in the first place.
Say “I Understand”
Have you ever had an upset customer that you felt just wasn’t listening to you? You offered him a solution to his concern, but he just kept repeating what it was he was upset about? Even though you think you understand a customer’s issue (and you may understand it perfectly), a customer may not feel heard and understood until you give him a chance to completely vent his frustration. Sometimes you have to let a customer get all his frustration out before you can move past the emotional phase of why he’s upset, and BEFORE you can move in to a process of resolving the problem. Start this process by showing and saying that you understand how the customer feels. Sympathize with him, understand him and hear him before you try to fix his concern. Connect and sympathize first. Only when that customer feels heard and understood will he allow you to move into the next phase of solving the problem.
Say “Thank You”
When your customers leave your shop, you have one last chance to reinforce trust and your relationship with them, which is critical to earning their repeat business. It takes 10 seconds to give them a sincere thanks, and it goes a long way. Say “Thank You,” and mean it.You can do all the marketing and advertising in the world to find new customers and get them into your shop, or you can let CustomerLink do it for you, but if you want your business to really do well, then please practice these habits (see what I did there?), and tell your customers the things they need to hear. If you and your staff start saying these things consistently to your customers, I guarantee you’ll also be saying “hello” to more revenue every month. Thank you for reading.
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