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Would You Want To Wait At Your Shop?

“There was no waiting room,” my husband recently complained to me. He had just spent his morning off waiting at a local repair facility as his car got an oil change and had its 90,000-mile routine maintenance performed, says Kristen Criswell, editor of Shop Owner magazine.

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Kristen joined Babcox Media in 2013 as a member of Tire Review. She currently serves as editor for Shop Owner, Servicio Automotriz and TelematicsTalk.com. The 2009 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, brings a wealth of experience from assignments as digital media specialist at Little Rock Air Force Base, publicist at Vance Air Force Base and stints as a contributing writer with both the Toledo Free Press and Southeast Ohio Magazine.

“There was no waiting room,” my husband recently complained to me. 

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He had just spent his morning off waiting at a local repair facility as his car got an oil change and had its 90,000-mile routine maintenance performed. 

“The ‘waiting room’ consisted of four chairs in the front window. No TV,” he said. “There were windshield wipers and other products on top of you.”

I sighed as I mentally told him he could have just Ubered home and back, instead of waiting at the shop. But then I thought: What would I have done?

If this had been my vehicle and my husband wasn’t around to shuttle me or watch my son, this visit would have been incredibly painful. If I was at the shop, I would have been stranded with a toddler who with every passing minute would be growing bored and fussy. Uber isn’t an option when you’re dealing with car seats. And a waiting room with no entertainment, and plenty of product for a toddler to pull down, sounds like a nightmare. I’m almost guaranteed at least one meltdown and a complete mess.  

I’m sure this shop thought that delivering the best vehicle service was enough. My husband will get over the fact there wasn’t an actual waiting area, but it was annoying enough for him to complain about it. If it were me in this situation, there is no way I could have used this shop. 

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This shop’s waiting room description isn’t that different from many automotive repair shops. But, I challenge you to make it the minority. 

Automotive repair is already stressful for many individuals. It’s an expensive, often unexpected cost. Think about what you can do to help alleviate some of your customer’s stress. 

No one likes waiting, but it’s not always an option for your customer to have someone drop them off and pick them up when having a vehicle worked on. Your shop can help by at least providing a comfortable waiting area. 

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and take a minute to walk around your waiting room. 

• The business professional: Are you offering functional workspaces or at the very least complimentary Wi-Fi? 

• Busy parents: What entertainment do you have for young children? Do you have a changing table in your restroom? What about the men’s restroom? Men take their young children places too.

• The impatient millennial: Does your TV work? And does it offer access to more than just local news?

Some shops are already succeeding in doing several of these things – why not join them? 

Monroe Tire & Service in Shelby, N.C., has a completely separate building serving as a waiting room. The ‘Driver’s Lounge’ features six different sitting areas, a kid’s room, full kitchen, a conference room, an office, and a 15-foot walnut slab bar for people to sit at. 

You might not have that sort of space to dedicate to a waiting area, but you get the idea and undoubtedly understand the importance of these spaces to your business. 

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Interstate Auto, in Madison Heights, Mich., renovated its waiting area to be a more open and inviting atmosphere. The waiting room offers complimentary beverages, reading material and a vintage arcade game for customers to play. The shop also has free Wi-Fi and offers customers a charging station for their phones.

If you can’t offer the onsite amenities, consider what you can do to help your customers with their normal routines. 

Mighty Auto Pro, in Medina, Ohio, offers loaner vehicles, shuttle service and vehicle pick up within a certain radius of the shop. In fact, the vehicle pick up was added when the shop noticed customers calling in with young children and realized it might be easier for them to pick up the vehicle for these customers. As a mother with a young child, I’m telling you this is a service I’d pay extra to have. 

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Offering loaner cars, shuttles, and vehicle pick up may be costly to undertake, but can pay off with higher ticket prices from customers who don’t have to worry how they’re going to get to work. Or the ROI could come from a greatful customer who is happy you considered their needs and refers a friend to your shop.

It’s not always going to be enough to deliver excellent vehicle service. Customers today expect more. Do away with the burnt, old coffee, the 30-year old metal chairs and that stack of out-of-date Reader’s Digest magazines!

If you wouldn’t want to spend all day in your waiting room, odds are your customers won’t either.  

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