Two rules always serve tire dealers and service shop operators well: First, give the motorist the most-accurate assessment of the vehicle's problem(s); then produce this comprehensive report as quickly as practically possible.
Remember that a diagnosis often brings bad news for the car owner. Delaying this information never makes bad news any better for the customer.
At first glance, my advice may suggest that service personnel must operate at breakneck speed in order to meet motorists' expectations. However, readers, experience confirms that slowing down may be the key to the fastest result. That means committing the time required to inspect the vehicle as carefully as practically possible.
It also means dedicating the time needed to follow proper diagnostic procedures for the symptoms and/or trouble codes that are present.
Undoubtedly, bosses understand the proverbial “need for speed.” But many owners and managers strive for speed simply for speed's sake. They seem to think that instant motion and activity are the keys to satisfying the customer, meeting his expectations.
They push their technicians for quick answers. Then techs jump to conclusions based on whatever symptoms are present and whatever initial information they may have.
The next step in this hasty rush is that anxious techs throw parts at the vehicle, hoping for a quick fix.
They often justify this approach by assuring everyone that replacing these parts usually fixes the problem. (I'd be rich if I had a dollar for every time a service manager told me that replacing a particular part usually fixed a problem.)
Ultimately, this perceived need for speed breeds a culture of parts replacement at many service facilities. To the contrary, managers should be cultivating a belief in inspection, testing and analysis. Those bosses who crave speed should recall Ben Franklin's warning: “Never confuse activity with motion.”
To be fair, hurling parts at certain kinds of problems does fix a large number of vehicles. Still, if you've spent any time in the bays, you know that this approach is fixing fewer and fewer vehicles every day. Plus, pitching parts at a problem reflects desperation rather than a professional, logical procedure.
Now consider the customer's impression when your misplaced emphasis on speed goes nowhere. The vehicle isn't fixed and you've wasted time and money. Instead of fixing the vehicle correctly the first time, you're probably farther away from the solution instead of closer to it.
Because you didn't fix the vehicle correctly the first time, you failed to meet expectations. And failing to meet expectations, of course, has major, negative consequences for the business' long-term health.
Earlier, I emphasized that delaying bad news never makes the news any more palatable to the car owner. The result of your headlong rush to judgment is that it may take much additional time and money to fix the vehicle. Is this likely to soothe or anger the customer? Is it likely to build trust or skepticism?
What kind of review is this motorist likely to post on the Internet about your business? How many word-of-mouth referrals is he or she likely to generate?
The fastest way to get the customer an accurate answer is—and always will be—careful vehicle inspections and thorough diagnoses. There's no skirting the fact that these procedures take a minimum amount of time.
Instead of obsessing over speed, focus on selling the time needed to do jobs correctly the first time. The customer expects instant results? Explain that the vehicle's problem(s) may not cooperate.
Point out that “instant gratification” isn't in its vocabulary.