A 2016 study by AAA suggested that 72% of drivers feel anxiety around visiting an auto repair shop, with 61% of respondents linking this to a distrust of mechanics.
These are worrying statistics, indicating that the auto-repair industry has an image problem.
Here are some practical ways that auto repair shops and professionals can win trust from customers and help alleviate drivers’ anxiety in getting their vehicle repaired.
1) Make sure every last chargeable repair is approved
One of the most commonly cited reasons for car owners’ distrust of auto-repair professionals is that they have had negative experiences in the past of being charged for work that they were not aware of or did not necessarily agree to.
Often, this is not the fault of unscrupulous auto-repair professionals. Rather it is down to miscommunication between the technician and the customer, usually caused by the technician assuming too much knowledge on behalf of the customer.
To prevent this from happening in the future, auto-repair professionals need to take extra care in listing out every last piece of work that a repair will entail, and being completely transparent in all of this when getting approval on a quote.
2) Where possible, try to offer multiple possible solutions at various price points
One of the most commonly cited reasons behind auto-repair anxiety is the anticipated high costs that such repairs will entail.
People are particularly worried with high car maintenance costs because they are usually unexpected, and therefore not budgeted for. A sudden, large expense can throw household budgets into disarray, so drivers are prone to fret about what an auto-repair shop will quote them.
To offer a better customer experience, technicians should focus less on pushing for the highest quality and longest lasting solution, and towards looking for the most practical solution for a car owner’s individual needs and situation - financial constraints included.
The best way of doing this is by offering multiple solutions at different price points, while explaining to the customer the positives and drawbacks of each proposed fix. This can allow car owners the flexibility to get back on the road without severe financial implication, while being able to go for the most optimal fixes when money allows.
A platform like Workshop Mate can help you to keep records of work that customers declined on previous visits. This makes it easy to offer cost-saving fixes while still offering full fixes in the future.
3) Streamline your operations as much as possible
One of the most commonly cited reasons for anxiety around visiting the mechanic is the amount of time that customers may have to go without their vehicle.
Given how much drivers rely on their vehicles for daily commutes and errands, going just a few days without it can throw your whole routine into disarray.
The level of this concern demonstrates that being able to perform repairs as fast as possible can give you a significant competitive advantage. Small improvements to your workshop’s operations can make a big difference to the levels of customer service that you are able to offer.
4) Pay attention to unconscious bias popping up in your repair shop
One of the more concerning findings in studies around auto-repair anxiety is that women consistently have more negative experiences with auto-repair professionals than men.
This is a more complex issue than just outright sexism. Auto-repair is one of the most male dominated industries out there, with female representation only being around 10%. The less equal representation you have in any organization, the more susceptible you are to having unconscious bias slip into the way that you work.
The best way to counter unconscious bias is to actively try and create a more diverse workforce. If that is not an option, then it may be worth investing in unconscious bias training to see where you can improve areas of your customer service.
5) Using your online presence to educate and win the trust of drivers
For many drivers, auto-repair anxiety can run so high that it actively puts them off getting repairs in the first place. Auto-repair shops therefore need to work on reaching drivers without the luxury of getting to interact with them face to face.
Your online presence can go a long way to helping you achieve this goal. There are loads of ways that auto repair shops can leverage social proof online to build a sense of trust in their target market. These include:
- Getting Google reviews and customer testimonials on your website
- Creating practical how-to guides for basic car maintenance that people can do themselves
- Having your staff go on video to introduce themselves to future customers.
All these combined can go a long way to familiarising your business to customers and building the trust necessary to pull in drivers who have long resisted getting their vehicle serviced.
This article was written by Mike Skoropad. Mike is the co-founder and CEO of auto repair shop and tire retailer United Tires.