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Repair Shop Advice

Building Customer Trust from Six Feet (or Six Miles) Away

November 23, 2020

It’s important for auto repair shop owners, managers and service writers to build a connection with potential customers.  Your shop will have more sales, higher margins and happier customers if those customers trust your employees to do what they need to in order to keep their cars in good shape.  Your customers will have a safe car that will probably last for years beyond their last car payment.  Everyone wins.

The problem is, it’s harder than ever to build that trust.  Most salespeople would agree that sales is easier face-to-face, in part because the customer can put a face to a name.  Putting a mask to a name just isn’t quite the same.

And if you ask people like criminal interrogators who have mastered the art of trust-building, they’ll spend hours telling you about all their non-verbal techniques like gestures, posture, and facial expressions.  You get absolutely none of that over the phone, and that’s a problem.  There are plenty of customers right now who aren’t excited about hanging around the shop for a 10-minute walkthrough on how their brake line failed.

All of this just means that you’ve got to work harder to use the tools you do have. Here are three things you can do to build trust with a potential customer, whether they’re talking to you from six feet away or six miles away.

Provide Certainty

Even during normal years, reliability is one of the most important elements of earning trust.  But people are desperate for certainty right now.  If your auto repair shop seems like a place that they can count on to help them reliably check one thing off their list, it will do wonders to turn a phone call into a customer.

This isn’t just about safety (although if you say you’re taking safety precautions, you need to be doing those things when they show up).  It’s about when their vehicle will be repaired, how long it will take to get a part, or when you’ll follow up with them.  And although you probably don’t want to provide a quote on services of any complexity without seeing the car, providing hourly costs or price ranges also helps to provide certainty.  Ultimately, anything that makes the shop seem disorganized or confused may push customers away.

Provide References

When customers are trying to find an auto repair shop they can trust, they want to hear what others think about local shops.  But they aren’t going to ask you for references directly.  If they have lots of time, they might ask their friends.  If they don’t have much time, they’ll probably take a look at online reviews.  But if it’s an expensive repair, they probably don’t want to commit to having it done by someone they’ve never met, especially if money is tight.

That’s why personal references and online reviews will always be one of the most important ways to build trust.  And just because your current customers might not be spending as much time in your shop doesn’t mean you should stop asking them for those references and reviews.  It just means you might have to add some socially-distanced ways of doing that to your process, such as emailed requests, if you haven’t already.

Many of our customers found that the first batch of stimulus checks led to a wave of larger repairs that vehicle owners wouldn’t likely have paid for before that check arrived.  If a new batch of stimulus checks are mailed out, you want your shop to be in a position to earn that extra business with a stellar reputation.

Provide Results

The most important part of building trust is following through.  Of course, part of that is having great technicians to provide the repair in the first place.  But it’s also important to take the time to reach out to every customer and make sure they’re happy with the service they received.

If they aren’t, do what you can to make it right.  Sometimes, your most loyal customers are the ones who were dissatisfied with their initial experience but blown away with the response they got after the fact.  It might take some time or money to turn those experiences around, but turning a one-star review into a five-star review will pay for itself many times over in the long run.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your repair shop bring in more business, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at