Have you ever had one of those days when you wanted to hide under the service desk or front counter? If a day turns disastrous, try what I call the tuxedo technique.
Simply put, the tuxedo technique is the act of adapting the calmest, coolest demeanor possible in spite of whatever happens around you. Mind you, this approach comes naturally to some people whereas others must apply it deliberately and consciously. Other people are too jittery or unconfident to ``tuxedo'' their way through a difficult day.
The premise of this technique is that your business' problems on any given day probably don't look as bad as you think they do. Therefore, there's no need for you to fret over them any more than necessary. Nor is there reason for you to concern your customers with them, either. They probably already have enough going on in their lives, so they needn't hear about your problems.
After all, consider the motorist's state of mind. At least one consumer survey has indicated many people would rather go to the dentist than get their car fixed.
Tuxedo rentals inspired both the philosophy and terminology. I'm sure many Tire Business readers have rented a tuxedo for one kind of formal occasion or another. The garment looked OK when you picked it up. But on the morning of the wedding, you found a frayed seam, crooked crease or food stain on it. It was too late to exchange it, so you sweated bullets hoping no one would notice these faults on your tux.
If anyone did notice anything, they said nothing about it. Lo and behold, these imperfections didn't show up in any of the wedding photographs either. The bottom line is, you did a lot of needless worrying, but the tux didn't look nearly as bad as you thought it did.
Similarly, conditions at the dealership or service shop may not look nearly as bad to customers as you think they do. I have observed this mistake countless times while traveling as an equipment salesman and/or reporter.
Let's assume that you have a clean, professional and presentable service facility. Let's also assume that you look and sound professional. If so, let's review what your experience at the service desk has taught you: The only thing you can count on is that things will go wrong.
For example, workers call in sick at the last minute or fail to show up without warning. Replacement parts arrive late or fail to arrive as promised. Parts that do arrive turn out to be the wrong parts. Fasteners break, vehicles catch fire, etc.
The point is that you don't strengthen your business' position by divulging these problems to customers. Sharing these things with customers doesn't add anything to their day, either. They already have enough headaches, such as a babysitter who didn't show up that morning. The kitchen overhaul still isn't finished because the plumber ordered the wrong faucets again. The possibilities are endless.
So if people in your customer lounge or waiting area didn't happen to see that car in the service department catch fire, don't mention it to them. If they didn't happen to hear that car slide off the lift, don't discuss it, and act like nothing's amiss. If the unlucky owner of this car is in the customer lounge, line up a loaner vehicle and explain the situation to him privately in your office.
Suppose your service department is short-handed. A customer arrives a little early to pick up his vehicle, which isn't finished. Too many service personnel I have observed would blurt out, ``Sorry sir, that darn kid didn't show up again today.'' Or, ``That jackass at the parts store sent the wrong filters again.''
OK, the customer doesn't know or care why the car isn't ready. Tell me if this tuxedo-type response doesn't sound less damning and more positive overall: ``Forgive me, sir, this youngster taking care of your car is extremely thorough, and every doggone job out there seems to be taking longer than usual today.''
See the contrast in responses? See if this technique helps keep everyone calmer on a pressure-cooker kind of day.