Going the Extra Mile When It Comes to Automotive Ethics
Ethics in automotive service and repair means a lot more than operating the ‘right way.’ It’s giving your customers the benefit of the doubt even when you know you are right.
Webster’s dictionary defines ethics as “the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group.” As an ASA member you agree to adhere to ASA’s Code of Ethics. But what do you do when something happens in your business that is not clearly defined by any code of ethics?
I believe many shops operate “ethically” by definition, but still treat their customers badly. If the majority of your new customers come from customer referrals and the least amount of new customers comes from traditional advertising, why would you spend the majority of your advertising budget on the medium that gives you the least amount of return? In other words, why not spend a little extra money to keep your customers happy even when you are right “ethically” and they are wrong?
If you’ve been in the automotive service industry any length of time, you may have had a customer say to you, “It [the car] wasn’t like this before you worked on it.” I used to automatically tell those customers, “I’m so sorry, but you have to understand that everything works until it breaks and I’m sure we didn’t cause the problem.” This phrase is not a recipe for customer retention! I have since learned a new phrase, “I’m so sorry you’re having a problem with your vehicle, let’s get it in and find out what happened and what we can do to help you.”
Have you ever had a customer tell you that the dent in their vehicle was not there before you worked on it? What do you do when you are 100 percent positive that the vehicle came in that way? On one hand you have a responsibility to support your family financially and not give away all your profits, but on the other you’ve got to keep your customers coming back.
I once had a customer who claimed we dented his vehicle. I knew where we had parked the vehicle and when and where the technician moved the vehicle. There was absolutely no way we had damaged it. I explained this to the customer, but also offered to take care of the damages because of how important the customer was to me. Two weeks later I received a letter from the customer along with an apology explaining that his wife had dented the car and hadn’t told him yet.
The few hundred dollars I might have had to pay for the dent would have been cheap advertising, and the money I would have saved by not paying for it would have cost me a customer as well as many referrals.Once again, if the majority of your new customers come from customer referrals and the least amount of new customers comes from traditional advertising, why would you spend the majority of your advertising budget on the medium that gives you the least amount of return? In other words, consider investing a little extra money in keeping your customers happy even when they are wrong. It takes more than “ethics” to be successful.
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