How To Fail When You Want Your Shop To Succeed

How To Fail When You Want Your Shop To Succeed

This month, I'm taking an opposing view of many proven success principles, providing tongue-in-cheek examples that are meant to showcase the right ways to do things, if you read between the lines. Play along to see how your shop stacks up.

istock_17644283_largeIf you’re familiar with my Pinnacle Performance Training or you’ve been reading my articles in Shop Owner over the past few years, then you know my focus is on success — success that’s created by a winning sales, customer-service and workplace culture that both differentiates and elevates independent repair businesses above and beyond the competitors.

But this month, I’m flipping that on its head and taking an opposing view of many of these proven success principles. Since 80% of all businesses are not performing at the level of the top 20%, it’s logical to assume that most repair businesses are operating according to the following principles.

With that, here are six proven ways that shop owners lose customers and damage their business.

These tongue-in-cheek examples are meant to showcase the right ways to do things, if you read between the lines. Play along to see how your shop stacks up.

failing-to-prepare1.) Don’t Prepare

When Ben Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” he was clearly misinformed. You’ve been getting by all these years without proper preparation, so why start now? Sure, your sales and service people “wing it” in their customer interactions and you’re no doubt losing business sales (especially on the phone) to well-prepared competitors, but that’s OK. It’s the way you roll; you’re born to be wild!

Besides, all that “preparation” stuff takes time, and time is in short supply. You don’t have the time to properly prepare or to do things right the first time, but you always seem to find the time to fix it later.

istock_50096244_large2.) Focus on Sales, Not Service

Business is really all about the numbers. All this mumbo jumbo about putting the customer first and enhancing their experience to create sales and loyalty to your shop is just a fad. What your business needs is sales today, not customers tomorrow!

You’re also going to want to spend that marketing budget on a lot more advertising to drive more traffic to your locations. Why invest in your existing customers’ experiences (which could help build loyalty, generate referrals and reap long-term gains), when you can spend much more money on advertising to attract new customers and make a few sales today?

istock_75119627_large3.) Focus on Price, Not Value

Focusing on value means delivering more, dollar for dollar, than your competition does. Consumer research confirms that when a customer perceives additional value, they are willing to pay more for a business’s products and/or services.

The primary driver of a customer’s perception of value is the quality of the service provided to them. To lose customers and damage your business, you should absolutely avoid improving the quality of service to increase perceived value. Instead, focus on coupons and aggressive discounting. People love coupons and discounts! As long as sales are coming in, who needs profits?

slow-service-24.) Fail to Deliver

There are a number of ways to fail to deliver, and each one is proven to make shop owners lose customers and damage their business.

Let’s start with quality work on which auto service businesses build their reputation. Of course, you should never, ever do anything less than honest work, but there are other ways to dramatically reduce quality. As an example, skip those multi-point quality assurance inspections and you’ll be well positioned to have disgruntled customers come back to you with problems you missed, and they’ll gladly take their vehicle to a competitor next time.

Customers value service providers who are responsive and proactive to their needs, so, presto. Just flip that around and be unresponsive and reactive. If a customer waits while their vehicle is being serviced, don’t provide any progress updates. Let the customer get up and come to the counter. If they leave their vehicle, let them call you — ideally several times — to check on its repair status.

No doubt you’re familiar with the popular phrase “under-promise and over-deliver.” Well, that’s for suckers. Instead, try to “over-promise and under-deliver.” Here’s a great example related to this point.

A customer walks up to the counter and asks how long it’s going to be to have their XYZ service performed. The employee responds, “We’ll have you in and out in about a half hour.” The customer replies, “Great, I’ll wait then,” and goes and sits in waiting area.

A half hour later, her vehicle is still parked in the lot with absolutely no explanation from any store employee. Another customer walks in and the first customer overhears the same empty “we’ll have you in and out in about a half hour” pledge. As soon as the second customer sits down in the waiting area, the first customer says, “They’re lying; I’ve been here over half an hour already and they haven’t even taken my car in yet.”

Later, that same customer posts a negative review on the Internet, making a case that the entire business is dishonest. Not only will she never come back, but now she also told all of her friends and co-workers not to do business there. One incident of failing to deliver as promised has now produced dozens of potential customers who are now lost.

service-reviews5.) Be Inconsistent

When customers can count on consistently great service each time they do business with you, their confidence increases and they are far less likely to shop around for their vehicle service needs. However, when the customer’s experience is inconsistent — exceptional one visit and so-so or poor the next — his or her confidence is compromised and (as influenced by the perceived risk) they are far more likely to consider competing alternatives.

A consistent customer experience builds consumer confidence and strengthens a company’s brand, but where’s the fun in that? Be spontaneous and mix it up a bit instead. All those successful service businesses — hotels, restaurant chains and franchises with their fancy systems and processes — talk about boring! Be hit or miss and send a clear message to customers that they likely will not receive the same level of service in the future. That should do wonders when it comes to losing customers and damaging your business!

6.) Be Unremarkable

Consumer research has shown that approximately seven out of 10 customers leave a business because of indifference. They feel like it’s “just another transaction” and have no emotional engagement with the business.

As your potential customers shop around with very little to distinguish one shop from the next, they naturally default to the cheapest price for the product or service they’re seeking.

Of course, in sticking with our “losing customers and damaging your business” theme, you’ll want to follow the crowd, play it safe, stick to the norm and deliver ordinary, unremarkable customer experiences. Any remarkable efforts will only foster customer engagement and rave referrals, creating loyal customers and even more business.

And who needs that?

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