A favorable first impression helps create a receptive selling atmosphere. Clean, bright and organized service bays should contribute to that positive first impression.
Some tire dealers and service shop operators seem keenly aware of the overall image their businesses convey to the outside world.
This means that from top to bottom, from stem to stern, their facilities look bright and professional.
At the very least, these bosses ensure that nothing looks gross or objectionable. (For example, they conceal refuse bins, trash cans and recyclable parts behind attractive wooden fencing.)
One owner summed up this approach to me very succinctly. "Whenever people look at our facility, I want them to think we're classy," he explained. "We have to look like we're worth what we're charging for our services."
It's challenging to make and maintain an attractive appearance around any automotive service operation.
Some bosses do a fine job outside the building and near the front counter or service desk. But they may do themselves a disservice when they overlook the service bays.
Over the years, the auto service businesses that have survived and thrived typically boast clean, tidy service bays. The shop philosophy at these places is that cleanliness thwarts the negative stereotype of dark, dingy and dirty repair shops.
Another way to view it is that advocates of the clean-bay theory see their approach as a way to exceed consumers' expectations.
Unfortunately, many auto repair businesses that came before yours were grubby and disorganized. What's more, the dark, dingy look of these places projected a forbidding, cave-like atmosphere.
Frankly, many motorists accepted "the cave" as the norm. On the other hand, progressive tire dealers and service shop operators realized that a cleaner, brighter work area projected pride in workmanship.
It also fostered a warmer, more-welcoming atmosphere for all visitors — both current customers as well as prospective ones.
What's more, consider the realities of auto maintenance and repair. For the moment, suppose that your customer waiting area does not have windows or video cameras looking into the service bays.
At one time or another, motorists coming into your site still may see in the bays when they approach it and park their vehicles.
Plus, personnel go to and from the bays, opening doors that give a view of the shop area. Eventually, situations occur when service personnel feel obligated to accompany a customer into the bays to inspect an unusual condition on a car.
To be fair, motorists don't expect service bays to be immaculate at all times.
Nonetheless, oil slicks and puddles of coolant are more than safety hazards — these things recall that cave image.
Discarded parts and other debris scattered in the bays do the same. These things may suggest that your crew lacks the pride or initiative to mop up and pick up after themselves.
It may hint that they're too lazy to take the trash out back and sweep the floor.
Now recall the caliber of clientèle that you are trying to attract to your service facility.
Imagine the kinds of vehicles they're driving. Overall, is a slovenly, careless image more likely to impress them?
Or would an atmosphere that telegraphs pride — and defeats a negative stereotype — be more appealing to your prospects?
Furthermore, is this warmer, more-welcoming image likely to keep them coming back to you?
During my travels, I have seen a few repair shops that thrived in spite of dingy appearances. But these cases represent a distinct minority.
Groom your crew to take pride in their workplace; pride includes a reasonably clean, safe and upbeat atmosphere.
Tripping over trash or slipping on puddles hurts worker loyalty as well as productivity.
Budget the time for appropriate daily cleanup and pay workers accordingly. Consider it a wise investment in your business.