Tolerating technician carelessness is a false fix for unprofessional behavior. A slovenly tech who disrespects customers' cars always costs the business dearly in the end — dearly. Here's why.
Over the years, some owners and managers of automotive service facilities have skirted the issue of dirty or damaged vehicles with several interesting rationales. (Notice that I said interesting.)
For one thing, they assert that what customers don't notice won't hurt them. In other words, address the consequences of sloppiness if and when the car owner discovers the greasy upholstery or scraped paint.
What's more, only make restitution when you can't talk your way around the complaint.
Besides, the supposedly savvy bosses have boasted that their employees pay for vehicle damage of any kind. So, these transgressions aren't issues as long as the cost doesn't come from the boss' pocket.
Another justification for tolerating slovenliness is keeping capable technicians. These bosses have argued that it's ultimately much cheaper to make restitution (as needed) than it is to lose a "high-earning" tech.
Perhaps it's no surprise that these owners and managers practice a hands-off posture with their service departments.
They've insisted that the fewer restrictions they put on the techs, the better the techs produce — the more labor hours they log.
But truth be told, mandating and enforcing cleanliness may entail leadership as well as hard work. Some bosses just aren't cut out for those roles and obligations.
Simply repeating these arguments never validated them in the past and doesn't legitimize them today. In fact, these attitudes are frightfully short-sighted.
For one thing, survey the tire dealerships and service shops that have been thriving and continue thriving in today's cutthroat marketplace.
At these facilities, sloppy behavior is not tolerated in any shape or form.
For instance, procedures for protecting customers' vehicles are discussed during the hiring process and are spelled out in the employee manual.
Respecting customers' property is shop policy, and employees are paid accordingly for following procedure.
Second, motorists' expectations of automotive service facilities are sky high compared with the old days. These expectations include fixing the vehicle correctly the first time — not to mention doing no harm to that vehicle.
Staining the upholstery and/or scraping the paint are not value-added features of a reputable service facility.
Third, earning personal referrals is an enduring trait of service centers that succeed over the long haul.
The owners and managers I hold in high esteem always emphasize that referrals are the lifeblood of their businesses.
Failing to meet or exceed expectations doesn't generate referral business — regardless of what specific thing disappointed the car owner. Dirt, grease, dings, dents, scratches and scrapes are nearly certain to disappoint the customer.
Fourth, marketing experts have stressed for years that a disappointed customer is poisonous to your business.
That's because an unhappy customer negatively influences far more people than the happy customer sways with praise of your operation.
I got my first job in an auto service facility in 1967; I recognize that there's a persistent feeling among some folks that dirt, dents and the like are normal, unavoidable consequences of auto repair procedures.
However, 50 years ago, I began noticing that protecting a customer's car adds only a few minutes to any task.
Back then, some repair folks were highly aware of these techniques, but many others were not. Perhaps the more things have changed, the more they've remained the same.
How's your crew treating vehicles?
There's no time like the present to hold a team meeting and implement a prouder, more professional approach.