Itís About Time!
In doing business, make sure you are considering the time-strapped needs of your customers as well as your shop.
Everyone and everything in our lives impacts the allotted time we have each day. I donít know about you, but the clock seems to run faster and faster each year. Even with all the advances in technology there are still only 24 hours in a day. Do you have time to get everything done each day? Do you have systems in place to manage your teamís time and, more importantly, do you manage to sell all the time you have available to sell?
Iím sure many of you reading this will answer ďyes.Ē Youíve been investing in your business via management and business education and really have your act together when it comes to time management. Congratulations!
What do your customers need?
However, what about your customers and their time? Where does vehicle maintenance and repair lie on their ďTo-doĒ list? What are you doing to help them manage their time? I firmly believe the difference between a good and a great shop today is the ability to effectively manage their customersí time. If you simply change your focus and begin thinking about how you manage your customersí time in ways that allow them to move their vehiclesí maintenance up the priority list, you win!
Letís take a look at your customers. They are the most important part of the equation. Consider what your customers are really looking for. They are looking for a great experience. You might think this includes perks such as free coffee or a TV in the waiting room or toys for their kids to play with or even a ride to work. A great experience must always include exceptional customer service, but it is also much more. Sure, you know about the basics of customer service Ė such as honesty, choice, convenience and trust Ė but letís consider the most important of them all: time.
Rush, rush, rush
In the last three decades, all of our lives have changed dramatically. Consider how you spent your time 30 years ago. Of course, some of you were still in diapers or in school, but this even applies to you. Time? You actually had some time left over for things you werenít planning on, like getting your car fixed! We didnít have email or smartphones or Angry Birds or iPads or Twitter or Facebook or satellite TV or 12-hour workdays. We had some spare time. Think of your own lives and how much time you actually have to spare. The days of working 8 to 5 and having dinner with your family at home every night are gone. Most families get up early to get the kids to school on time. That means getting up at 5:30 a.m. (or even earlier) in some cases.
Then they rush to work and since they live a significant distance from work they have no time to drop off their vehicle with you when they need service. At work, most people are doing the job of one and a half or two people so they are working long hours and donít have any spare time. Then, when it is time to go home, they rush to pick up the kids and get them to baseball practice or soccer or any number of other activities they might be involved in. After practice they stop by McDonalds and pick up a healthy Happy Meal or two and head home to spend the rest of the evening trying to catch up on their chores.
Everyone deals with the limitations of time. With all the advancements in our society due to technology, the one thing we havenít been able to create is more time in a day. No matter what you do to manage your time, you canít create more time. So the biggest challenge your customers have is time. When they need to get their vehicle serviced, they will need to make the decision to invest the time to come visit you. Will you be able to manage your time to save their time?
To manage your time, be prepared for servicing challenges
The vehicles you see today already have sophisticated technologies that you must be able to repair. The advancement of technology is not going to stop. In fact, the technologies you will see in the next five to 10 years will make the technologies that entered our industry in the past 30 years seem simple. But to be prepared for tomorrowís service challenges, you must be able to effectively repair todayís technologies.
Todayís vehicles are equipped with engines that require specific fluids that if serviced incorrectly will significantly reduce the life of the vehicle and add tremendous cost to your customer. Are you using the right oils? Are you using the right transmission fluid? Are you using the right coolant or brake fluid or gear box lube or can you even change the fluid or can you even check the fluid? Todayís vehicles have tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that need to be serviced correctly or you add inconvenience to your customer. Are you checking your customerís air pressure so their TPMS light doesnít come on when the weather turns cold? Todayís vehicles are all equipped with data network systems that contain dozens of computers and control most everything on the vehicle that is electrically powered. While most of these systems are fairly robust and reliable, they do fail and when they fail they require a service-ready technician to diagnose and repair the problem. Many times these vehicles present a problem that makes you think you need to send it to the dealer for service. Have you done this recently?
Consider your customerís time
How should you plan to manage your customersí time? Consider each time you require a customer to come back for a service or go somewhere else for a repair, even if it is a warranty issue at the dealership. How can I better manage my customersí time? Let me leave you with an example. Mrs. Jones has a Check Engine Light on and you find a technical service bulletin (TSB) where the dealer will repair it for free. Before you call Mrs. Jones, have a plan in place to get the vehicle to the dealer for her without requiring her to do anything in the way of adjusting her time. Offer a rental car to be delivered or simply ask if she has alternate transportation. Offer to deliver her vehicle to the dealer and when they are done have it delivered directly to her work or home. Would you be impressed if you were Mrs. Jones? That is an example of managing your customerís time and creating a great service experience. Now think about other situations where you can do the same and youíll soon become the talk of the town.
Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of management articles that are contributed to AutoInc. by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. In 2013, AMIís knowledgeable instructors will continue covering a variety of topics designed to educate and train todayís service and repair professional in AutoInc. To learn more about AMI, its courses and instructors, visit www.AMIonline.org. AMI administers the distinguished Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) Program.
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