Lessons from an Auto Repair Shop
Four years ago, we brought our car into a neighborhood mechanic’s business. It looked pretty typical from the outside—two bays, cinder block building and a NAPA sign and display or two inside. Cliff, the owner, had just moved back to Michigan and had the entrepreneurial spirit.
Even though he supplies a service that could be considered a commodity, and is in an industry that is viewed with some suspicion and fear of getting ripped off, Cliff has worked diligently to stand out and be different.
We’ve watched improvement after improvement, month after month, steadily and consistently. I brought the Caravan there yesterday for an oil change. A third bay has been added. The outside of the building is freshly painted with up-to-date signage. The parking lot has been resurfaced. Inside the waiting area is nicely carpeted. It smells like coffee, not old oil. One corner has a children’s play area. There’s a slurpee machine—two actually, strawberry and lime. There’s a Keurig and a regular drip coffee maker. There’s a nice selection of magazines and two big screen TVs on the walls.
It took four years for him to get his auto shop looking like this. But it’s friendly. Well-dressed people feel comfortable waiting for their cars there. Mothers feel good about bringing their kids. Best of all—when you bring your car to Cliff, you feel like he’s going to treat it like it is his own. If you request a service that you don’t need, he won’t sell it to you. You never feel like he’s trying to make a sale or pad a service. He has earned trust!
How can you make your business more friendly, more appealing and more in tune with the needs of your customers? How can you make them feel like you really understand their business, their needs and their objectives?
Be more relevant to the needs of your customers. Be different than your competitors. Focus on solving problems. You’ll take yourself out of the price game and develop lasting relationships.