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Shop Talk Blog

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Gaining Customer Trust (and How Not To)

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Let's Talk Shop!

Our Shop Talk Blog shares the insider advice needed to increase profits & efficiency. Learn what's working right now for repair shops all across the country.

According to a new AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services, and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence. However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with an imperfect reputation. AAA urges all drivers to identify a reputable repair facility well before one is needed.

“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

  • The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:
    • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
    • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
    • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
    • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)
  • Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.
    • Baby Boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
    • Baby Boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).

So how does a shop become the trusted shop? Having a transparent process goes a long way to improving customer trust. Being mentally prepared for the cost helps a customer make a decision, instead of being surprised with a large invoice. Some shops reach for transparency by bringing customers onto the shop floor, but that is dangerous. A lot of customers don't feel comfortable being around a car in the air, and some insurers don't cover customers in the work area.  

Having a transparent process goes a long way to improving customer trust.

 So, how do you achieve a transparent process?

1. Ask for Permission

As simple as it sounds, if a customer doesn't know you are doing the work, or what the fix entails, they are going to be shocked by the invoice. In addition, if you are asking to perform a service or inspection without disclosing the price, your customer might think the job was included. What is common sense to us is a foreign concept to others.

2. Communicate Digitally

Every shop has the "I didn't approve that" horror story. The one customer who changes their mind about a service, and pretends to have never approved it. That statement is usually followed by the "I'm not going to pay full price" conversation. If you had a transcript of your conversation, you could point out where the customer was mistaken, and rightfully charge the agreed upon price. Text messaging software is a great way to stay in contact with customers, and C.Y.A. (Cover Your Assets).

3. Take Photos

If you tell a car novice that their brake lines are close to failing, they may hold off on the repair, because they assume their car will give them some kind of warning before it becomes a serious problem. Little do they know the warning comes when the car doesn't stop. By then, it is a little too late. If you show that same customer a photo of a bulging line, they will probably rethink everything. Photos are a great tool to put customers' minds at ease when it comes to your expertise and trustworthiness. They won't be afraid of falling for a muffler bearing gag.