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Gaining Customer Trust

January 27, 2017 / Customer Retention

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 do you create that trust?

1. Take the Time To explain

As simple as it sounds, if a customer doesn't fully understand what you're doing with their vehicle, they're going to be wary. Sure, they're up to speed on which services you intend to perform, but do they understand why you've recommended them?  A little extra time spent making sure the customer fully understands will likely result in more sold services for your shop as the relationship grows. 

2. increase transparency

Distrust is often rooted in a lack of understanding. Thanks to the stigma surrounding our industry, customers tend to be on the skeptical side. The fact of the matter is that they don't know if those services you're recommending are necessary. They have no choice but to trust you or turn down the recommendation based on their own understanding.

By and large, people are uneducated about the innerworkings of their vehicles—it's why they turn to the experts. But that doesn't mean they can't have a healthy understanding of their vehicle and how it operates. But how can you educate your customer base? The simple answer is: through digital vehicle inspections (DVI).

Through DVIs, you're able to show your customer exactly what your technician sees. The inspection allows your shop to attach photos of the issues at hand to a digital report. As a result, the vehicle owner can make educated approvals based on your recommendations because they've seen the issue with their own eyes. This transparency creates a strong relationship between shop and customer, and they know they can confidently trust you with their vehicle now and in the future.

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3. Make communication easy

Like any relationship, a crucial component is communication. As a shop owner, you should strive to take that a step further and make communication as easy as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to implement two-way texting into your shop's processes. Your customers likely live very busy lives, so it's important to meet them where they are. Need approvals? Text them to your customer. Ready to send their invoice? Text it! It's that simple. It seems like a small change, but it truly can make the biggest difference when your customers feel like you're making the experience easier for them.