I went to the parking lot with full intentions of getting into my car and driving to lunch. That was not happening…
As I got out there, I realized I had a flat tire. Now, there are many things that frustrate me about my car. The 8 million dings and scrapes that have magically appeared since my daughter and son started driving. The lights that flash on my dashboard because I have work that needs to be done. And now add to this a flat tire. All of these situations could be remedied quickly, but I have been putting off calling the dealership.
Time and Fear.
Because taking my car in to be serviced is more nerve wracking to me than going to the dentist. I am always worried they are going to take advantage of me. Tell me I need way more done to my car than is truly necessary. That they will see me walking up and start rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the money they will get from me.
And once I get there, I will spend my entire day waiting for my car, even though it was only supposed to take a few hours.
The problem is, you cannot ignore the flat tire. And I probably should not ignore the noisy belts or my dash that is lit up like Christmas.
Where did my fear and anxiety of dealerships come from? Why do I always think they are going to swindle me?
This is the stereotype many women have that MUST be overcome in the Service Lanes.
Women need to feel comfortable coming into your Service Department. Comfortable, educated, and safe. We need to know that you have our best interest at heart, and not only your wallet.
The funny thing is, I work in the automotive industry. I know that manufacturers are fighting against the persona of the duplicitous salespeople and service technicians. I grew up around great guys who worked day in and day out in the Service Lane. I taught at a school where young men and women were educated not only in how to fix vehicles, but also the ethics of being a service technician. I know all of this.
And yet I still am apprehensive when I go to get repairs.
I did a little research, and along with my experiences, found some simple ways to increase confidence, security, and education. These do not have to be gender specific. These hints will work on anyone, but–from the perspective of a woman–these would increase confidence in your service station and dealership.
From the moment someone pulls into your service lane, think of how you can give her first class treatment. That means personalization. Welcome her by name when she exits the vehicle. Make sure she knows your name and her point of contact. Walk the customer to the waiting room if she is waiting, or walk her to the loaner or shuttle. Many say they do not have time for this, but really you don’t have the money NOT to do this. A few minutes will create a lifetime of loyalty.
I want to know what is going on with my car. I don’t want to be treated like the “little lady.” Educate me on what is going on with my car. Tell me why I need something–and if it is a recommended maintenance, let me know why this is important.
Also–tell me what I don’t need! I love when this happens. It is a wonderful experience.
I take a kid to the dentist and he tells me my youngest does NOT need braces.
He is now my new favorite person.
Try this out and see if your customer’s demeanor does not change. Tell them what they do not need. Tell them what looks good about their vehicle. This makes you the “good guy” and separates you from the negative stereotypes.
Being transparent is an overused buzzword, but we cannot ignore it.Transparency is the key to loyal and happy customers. In all areas, you should inform the customer and keep them in the know, but there are two hot buttons: time and money. If you are transparent with these two things, the majority of your issues will be proactively handled.
Watch Your Time:
Matthew Belk always says to underpromise and overdeliver. Don’t promise a short wait time if you know the customer is coming in at a peak time and you are a tech down. Tell them a longer wait time than generally anticipated, and then if you finish early, it is an unexpected, happy surprise. No one likes to wait, but most like when something is done earlier than planned.
There are always things out of our control. There may be one issue the customer comes in with, but as you begin to work, everything unravels and you see multiple issues as opposed to one. Tell the customer as soon as you know there is additional work. Tell them the price, and then explain WHY it is important. Transparency means excellent communication. Communicate things clearly and specifically. No one wants to spend more money than anticipated, but if things are needed, they must be done. (This is also a great place to discuss equity mining, but that is for another day).
Your customers, especially your women customers, need to feel confident, comfortable, and educated when they come into your service lane. If you personalize their experience, are transparent with them, and make sure to educate them concerning their vehicle and their options, you will win in customer loyalty!
I guess it is time to email my dealership and set an appointment. Gotta put the Christmas lights on the dash to rest.
Let’s Talk About It:
The customer experience is the one thing that stands between your service department and great retention numbers.
What are you doing to ensure your wait is not painful? Charging stations, snacks ( I mean, even American Airlines is bringing back free snacks)
If your customers are not waiting how are you keeping them updated? Text, video or old school phone calls? Do you wash every vehicle after the service?