Customer trust essential
As a long time reader, I always enjoy Dan Marinucci's auto service column and usually agree with what is written.
I do, however, have a different view than in his column titled, Documentation helps boost credibility, in the Jan. 5 edition of Tire Business. Specifically, I have a problem with this paragraph: This philosophy is based on the age-old concept of evaluating a vehicle's condition to the best of your abilityregardless of the reason it's in the bay.
The reality is that this practice is what I think has contributed to the tarnished reputation the auto repair industry has, and one that for benefit of the industry needs to be moved away from. Whether you are using high-pressure sales tactics or communication, dissecting a vehicle every time it is in a repair facilityno matter what it is in foris the same as a doctor wanting to perform a full body scan and MRI when a patient just comes in for an immunization shot.
Customers trust us to tell them the story of their vehicle, and we have an obligation to do so to ensure they are in a safe, reliable vehicle.
Yes, customers trust us with their lives, the lives of their children and other loved ones. This doesn't mean if a vehicle comes in for a tire rotation, we are going to do a 22-, 44- or multi-point safety inspection.
What we are going to do is inspect in the area of repair, meaning if we are doing a rotation, we are going to visually inspect the brakes since we have the wheels off. If we find an out-of-line condition, we are going to recommend to the customer that we do a complete brake system analysis based on MAP (Motorist Assurance Program) guidelines.
The customer always is given the choicenever is this forced on the customer.
We are going to check the tire wear to see if they are wearing evenly, and based on uneven wear ask if the customer would like us to check the alignment after explaining why that's recommended. We aren't going to open the hood (unless asked.) Why would we? The customer didn't bring the vehicle in for us to be under the hood.
There is a time and place for a thorough inspection, but not every time a customer's vehicle is brought into the shop.
This business model is what the industry needs to accept in order to regain the trust of customers. Yes, we have an obligation to keep vehicles safe, reliable and dependable. Yes, we need to communicate to our customers areas of concerns based on out-of-line conditions based on MAP standards and manufacturer-recommended service intervals.
We need to prepare customers for their vehicles' future needs, but in the right way. All of us want to be able to count our customers as loyal customers, ones who bring their newly of age son or daughter into one of our stores and introduce them, and let them know that if they ever run into a problem, to call John since he has taken great care of me for the last 20 years and I know that he will take good care of you.
And in turn, you say to John, I am trusting you to take as good of care of Julie, as you have of me.
This is what we need and will only get by treating customers like we expect to be treated.
Director, Operations and Training
Tire Discounters Inc.
Editor's note: In his column on page 9 in this issue of Tire Business, Dan Marinucci responds to Mr. Hargitt's comments.