I recently had the privilege of spending 15-20 minutes talking with a young man who had replaced the engine in his Subaru this past winter. He wasn’t our customer, but a friend of a customer— who told him I might be able to offer insight. After relaying the complexities of his story, he asked if I thought he should sell the car, as he wasn’t sure if he could rely on it in the future. He seemed truly exhausted—not only with his experience, but now, with the car. I began to ask a series of questions. I’m always curious to find out what makes a person uneasy, unhappy, or unsatisfied with their service. I really wanted to know because it helps me tremendously at our shop. The first question I asked was, “How much did the job cost?” He replied the engine replacement was about $3500. He then quickly asked how much it would have cost at our shop, and after throwing out a quick but fairly accurate number, he said “I couldn’t have afforded that.” He then went on to tell me he had to replace the engine twice, after the first new replacement failed while under the 1-year warranty. He didn’t trust the quality of the engine’s manufacturer, so he decided to source his own engine and requested the shop purchase it and install it for free, which the shop did. So, after nearly 1 year of drama, hundreds of hours of worry, thought, and energy, he is now driving again.
I’m always disappointed when I hear a story like this. I had to ask, “When you realized you needed help with your car and began looking for a shop, what did you look for?” He responded he was looking for a good deal. Again, another question, “When you first walked into that shop, what were your first impressions?” He replied, “I knew I was going to get a good deal.” “And, did you?” “No,” he said.
So the question really is “what is a good deal?” In my experience talking with people, reading industry journals and publications, operating a shop, and constantly speaking with and listening to other shop owners, I’ve learned a lot. I’m committed to learning and growing every day. When looking for “a good deal” in a service, whether it be home repair, car repair, or going to the dentist, the consumer wants a quality relationship. This relationship is based upon trust, and will hopefully withstand the test of time, through thick and thin. Things happen. People make mistakes. Technicians, advisors, owners, and customers are human. With a quality relationship, a great shop will take great care while listening to the concerns of the client, and the customer will always trust the shop to do the right thing. In a great relationship, the customer trusts that they can speak up when things aren’t right, and conversely the committed business owner will welcome the feedback and take action to correct the situation. Couple this with high quality parts, and service by certified professionals, and you’ll have what every consumer wants. A good deal.