Mr. Tire Dealer, look at your entire staff and tell me what distinguishes them from the competition.
If it's the number of earrings, facial rings and tattoos you see, then your image-building program is on the wrong track-that is, if any plan exists at all.
Visit highly successful automotive service shops or tire dealerships that are extremely successful selling service. The closer you study these businesses, the more you'll realize that their winning formulas have many elements. But a positive worker appearance is always part of that equation. At these winning businesses, you'll never observe customers or prospective customers gawking at a worker because the fellow looks like a one-man circus sideshow.
To put it another way, consistently successful auto service facilities always seem to practice the same basic math: If something isn't adding to our overall image, it must be subtracting from it. This certainly includes overall worker appearance.
Successful owners and managers know the stakes are high. Competition for the consumer's auto service dollars is greater than ever. Therefore, they utilize every competitive advantage they can muster. As you might have already guessed, wholesome worker appearance is one of their competitive advantages. At the very least, the staff's overall appearance is non-offensive and unthreatening.
Observe the winners closely and you'll recognize something. Whenever one of their technicians does have to speak to a customer, the tech's appearance and manners help build trust and confidence.
The approach works so well that motorists come back and request that tech by name. Sometimes it's a challenge because this customer is so impressed with the tech that he or she wants to bypass the service writer. Their first encounter built such trust that now they insist on speaking directly to the technician! I can't think of any greater compliment to a dealership or service shop than a customer who asks for a technician by name.
Here's a litmus test for you and your staff: Look at your crew's appearance and try to recall the last time someone asked for one of your workers by name.
Anyone with a brain knows appearance is a much bigger issue with women than with men. What's more, anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of the people purchasing service today are women. Another litmus test for your business is to ask yourself how many of your workers would frighten or intimidate a female customer with their appearance?
In other words, how many pounds of facial metal adornments telegraph to any prospective customer-especially women-that ``I'm the tech you need.'' How many tattoos are needed to convince a female motorist that I'm the only one to whom she should entrust her prized, $35,000 piece of machinery? How garish a shade of red must I dye my hair to earn this trust? How high must I spike my hair style to win over the customer?
Most dealers and service shop owners are male, so I'll phrase the next litmus test accordingly. Would your wife or your mother feel comfortable trusting their cars to workers who look like hard-core bikers, Goths, freaks, grungers, etc.? If not, then the image of your workers is subtracting from rather than adding to the success of your business. It's only one negative, you might argue, but to me it's a MAJOR negative.
When conducting a job interview, image-conscious owners and managers politely clarify that appearance is as important as ability and attitude. In fact, a wholesome appearance is part of an overall positive attitude projected by the kind of winners you want on your dealership's team.
The challenge facing many service departments is the fact that the boss has tolerated slovenly or freakish appearance for so long that changing the situation now would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. If that's the case, you'll have to live with it and try to offset this negative with other image-building positives.
Yes, there's a tech shortage and you feel lucky to have warm bodies back in the bays. Yeah, you don't want to incur legal hassles. Granted, recruiting reliable workers is difficult. But all those things simply state the obvious.
I have a different view-one borne of experience and extensive travels. I believe that more than anything else, the appearance and attitude of the crew reflects its leadership. Think about it!