Enhancing Our Professional ImagePosted 11/19/2007
By Rodney W. Bolton
I entered the automotive industry in 1978 and spent the first eight years as a technician for another company. I then worked the next 12 years as an owner/technician. Currently I am president of Car Concepts Inc., which is headquartered in Hurst, Texas.
Car Concepts is the parent company of three automotive shops surrounding DFW Airport. All of our employees share ownership through our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Although I no longer work in the shop, I have maintained my ASE master and L1 certifications.
Recently, we decided to remodel our Irving, Texas, facility - even though it has always received high customer satisfaction ratings in regard to service and cleanliness. We believed additional improvements could be achieved through greeting our customers as they entered the front door, emulating the dentist-office approach. So we relocated the front door to be closer to our parking area. As it existed, the other "front" door was actually on the side of our building, and was always difficult for new customers to locate when they pulled in. It was not unusual for customers to enter through the first overhead door in the shop area, distracting our technical staff. It was also disconcerting to customers.
Another major reason to move the door was to enable our service writers to greet each customer immediately as he or she walked into the reception area. A third benefit of relocating the door was that it allowed our technicians to access the back office area, computer workstations and talk with the service writers without walking through the customer lobby area.
Since the remodel, response from our customers has been very positive with comments that our reception area looks more like a doctor's office, clean and well organized. When people enter, their first impression is good. It has clearly raised the bar for professionalism and enhanced our image. In addition, we have experienced some growth in fleet accounts that desire higher-quality service.
For years, I had expressed my desire to also use the dentist-office approach regarding maintenance prescheduling. After attending CARS in 2006 and hearing about another shop practicing maintenance prescheduling, I felt it would be a great time to incorporate the changes since we had already scheduled renovation to begin in November.
Although we have completed the physical appearance makeover, we must continue working on internal improvements to complete our dentist-office approach in prescheduling appointments. Our service writers are already providing an appointment card as a customer checks out and we follow up via e-mail and a telephone reminder the week before the appointment to confirm with our customer. But this new process will take some getting used to by both our service writers and our customers.
However, we strongly believe remodeling our office and reception areas and the new appointment process will significantly improve our ability to serve our customers.
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