Murray Voth: Why is the repair process so painful?

by | Sep 13, 2018 | 0 comments

by Murray Voth, RPM Training

In my last column, I suggested that often automotive shop customers aren’t so much unhappy with the fact that their vehicle needed repairs or service, but rather that the process was so painful.

In no particular order, here are the top five complaints listed by the North American driving public concerning their last repair shop visit:

  1. I was sold something that I did not need.
  2. My vehicle was not ready when I was told it was going to be.
  3. The advisor did not really listen to my concerns.
  4. The invoice I received at the end of the day was larger than the estimate I was given.
  5. The vehicle was not fixed right the first time.

After a bad day, when we feel like we have had more than our share of customer stress and complaints, it’s understandable that some shop advisors might become defensive. You might be tempted to say things like:

  • “We are honest at this shop, but the customer just did not listen.”
  • “I asked if they could leave the car with me, and they said yes. Then they were back in two hours.”
  • “I asked them what they thought their car needed, and they said nothing. Now they are blaming me for not finding all the problems with their car.”
  • “They need to understand that bolts break sometimes – it’s not my fault that I have to charge them more.”
  • “The car had multiple concerns. I thought I fixed the one they wanted, but now they want all this other stuff fixed for free.”

Sound familiar?

There are multiple approaches to improve the relationship with our clients and help them appreciate what we do for them, and prevent the risk of an unhappy customer and an unpleasant exchange of words.

  1. During the write-up process, find out what the customer’s primary concern is. It may not be a priority when it comes to safety or preventative maintenance, but nonetheless, it is bothering them. What most advisors tend to do is inspect the vehicle, and present what is needed in order of priority, safety being first. If the things we think are highest priority don’t line up with what they think, they will feel that we sold them things they did not need.
  2. When asking a client how long they can leave their vehicle for, state a specific time. “Can you leave your car with me till 4:00 this afternoon?” Then you can have a proper discussion about expectations.
  3. Near the end of the write-up process, always ask the client if they have any other concerns with their vehicle, and give two or three examples: wipers, noises, leaks. Or ask them if anyone else drives the vehicle who had expressed any other concerns. Giving them examples to think about often triggers the client’s brain to remember their own list.
  4. Add an estimating factor of 10% to all of your estimates. This gives you wiggle room if small issues come up. With anything larger, make sure that you communicate with the client before you proceed.
  5. When they drop off their vehicle, ensure you document their preferred communication method, and explain to them that if they don’t respond in a timely manner, their vehicle might not be ready today.
  6. The sixth point is a big one – big enough to cover in depth in my next column. Stay tuned!

    Murray Voth, RPM Training,


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