Retail

Customer Interaction: Creating Standards to Live By

Dennis McCarron
Posted on March 6, 2018

When you get a chance, if you don’t already watch, check out any of Gordon Ramsay’s TV shows. From “Hells’ Kitchen” to “Kitchen Nightmares” to “Master Chef,” there is one common theme: consistency through standards. I can’t publish most comments that come out of Ramsay’s mouth, for he does tend to be “colorful” and speak his mind, but in between bleeps and blurred out middle fingers, the man is passionate about standards.

Exacting standards

Standards are essentially promises you make to every customer. “This is what I promise to you if you purchase X product.” It’s different from a warranty, it’s different from a how-to guide. It’s a promise for the exchange of the customer’s trust.

Standards are what your employees employ every single time a certain service is performed. The reason that is important? Most customers depend on predictability, especially in our industry. They generally don’t understand how a car works, or why things cost as much as they do, so they need a lot of consistency — things that keep them from freaking out and starting to imagine all the crazy things they sometimes believe might be happening when you put their car nine feet in the air.

Let’s break down a particular scenario to see how it works:

Customer: “How much for an oil change?”

Shop employee: “$59.99. I saw you drive in the silver car, right?”

Customer: “$59.99 for an oil change?”

Shop employee: “Yes, your car takes X oil and capacity Y quarts, blah, blah, blah...”

Customer: “Zzzzzz. I just got an oil change on my spouse’s car and it was only $39.99.”

And let the fighting begin. We can be as informational as possible, but if the customer isn’t listening, because they are wondering why the change in price is so stark, then why bother talking?

Let’s look at implementing some standards, in how we communicate, and see how the scenario changes.

Customer: “How much for an oil change?”

Shop employee offering the standard responses: 1) He will ask customers if they have been there before, and if not, what kind of car they drive. 2) He will ask every new customer if they are aware of the different kinds of oil changes you offer. “I see that you haven’t been to our location before, are you aware of the three oil change options we offer?”

Customer: “No, I just want a plain oil change... you know... cheap.”

Shop employee: “Sure, I can offer you our least expensive oil change. Every oil change we do consists of a quick test drive around the parking lot, a courtesy inspection of fluids and filters, replacement of the filter, draining of the old oil, and replacing it with the manufacturer’s recommended oil type. Then we run your car for two minutes to check for leaks, and we will return your car to you in about 45 minutes.”

Wait, wait, wait... who in the name of Harvey Firestone is going to go through all of that? It takes too long. It’s just an oil change! Yes, it is just an oil change, and yes, that conversation takes three minutes. You could rush through it and get the keys, scramble to get the car in, open the hood... and get loudly asked, “Why are you checking my tires? Why is that thing out of my car? Where did that (air filter) even come from?”

When we talk about standards, we talk about process, predictability, and making it easy for the customer. Sure, it may take a few minutes in the beginning, but those few minutes save us many minutes and avoid arguments.

Standards equal consistency

Standards also tell our employees what is expected of them. Many times, a shop assumes a technician knows how to do a brake job, but is there anything in writing telling them what’s expected?

This is where standards shine. Gordon Ramsey may be foul-mouthed, but he’s never put someone in a position to do a job where he hasn’t explicitly (in more than one way) told them how and what to do. When he gets angry, it’s usually because the person had agreed to do something a certain way and then did not meet expectations.

Standards are teachable. They are guides for employees. Not only do customers want predictability in their tire and automotive service, but so do employees.

Here’s a tip: Instead of trying to come up with standards for every job your shop performs, pick a handful to start. Oil change, tire replacement, brake job. Start simple. Include your employees. You’ll be surprised how eager they are to outline the expectations of a certain job.

And you will find, like Gordon Ramsay, you won’t need to be saying things like “%*&$ing s#!t d$%n&t!” ■

Dennis McCarron is executive director of Dealer Strategic Planning Inc., a company that manages multiple tire dealer 20 Groups in the U.S. (www.dsp-20group.com). To contact McCarron, email him at dennis@dsp-20group.com.

To read more Business Insight columns by Dennis McCarron, click:

Managing Employees Can Be a Tricky Part of Business

How to Protect Your Business From Government Fines

Digital Is Not Different -- It's Just a New Way of Doing an Old Thing: Selling

Mapping Out Your Road to Success

Related Topics: Business Insight, Dennis McCarron, sales and marketing

Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
The first week of July 2018 will mark the launch of TireHub, the joint distribution project of Goodyear and Bridgestone.
News

TireHub Gets the Green Light From Regulators

TireHub LLC is a go. The joint venture for passenger and light truck tire distribution between Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Bridgestone Americas Inc. will begin serving customers the first week of July.  

News

Nokian Is Adding Capacity for Passenger Tires

Nokian Tyres plc is increasing production capacity for passenger car tires at its factory in Nokia, Finland, by approximately 30%. The tire maker will hire 80 new employees and run nine additional shifts each week.  

News

Vogue Promotes $75 Summer Rebate

Vogue Tyre and Rubber Co. is rolling into summer with a consumer rebate for purchases of a set of four Vogue Signature V Black tires.

Triangle leader Ding Yuhua died unexpectedly on June 13, 2018.
News

Triangle Tyre's Chairman Ding Dies at 69

Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd. announced that Ding Yuhua, executive chairman and director of the board, died unexpectedly on the morning of June 13, 2018. He was 69 years old.

The Evolve allows users to add images ot their vehicle reports.
Product

OTC Updates Bravo 3.1.1 Diagnostics Software

OTC Tools has released the Bravo 3.1.1.9 Evolve and 3.1.1.10 Encore diagnostic software, the latest major updates to its diagnostic tools. The updates include new features and expanded diagnostic capabilities and increased vehicle coverage.

The second day of Falken Academy is spent behind the wheel, both on the track at the Auto Club Speedway and on the Cleghorn Trail. On the trail, four tires on the ground is optional in some parts.
News

Falken Invests in Its Dealers With Falken Academy

A year ago Falken Tire Corp. was investing its money into marketing itself as the Official Tire of Major League Baseball. This year, the tire maker is spending that money on independent tire dealers.  

The fifth annual SEMA Battle of the Builders will be showcased in Las Vegas at the SEMA Show.
News

Registration Opens for SEMA Battle of the Builders

Builders who have a car or truck displayed at the 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, held Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Las Vegas, can bring added exposure to their vehicles and the products that make their builds unique by entering the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition online.

Nearly 200 international and retread manufacturers ad distributors met with buyers at the 2018 Latin Tyre Expo.
News

Successful Ninth Latin Tyre Expo Held in Panama

The ninth annual Latin Tyre Expo showcased nearly 200 international tire and retread manufacturers and distributors who met and connected with buyers over the course of the three-day event.

News

Bolt On Technology Shops Reach the 15 Million Photo Mark

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then the number of words represented by more than 15 million photos would surpass 15 billion. The number of repair shops using the Mobile Manager Pro automotive software solution recently reached that milestone, according to Bolt On Technology LLC.

Thanks in part to its on- and off-road tire designs, the Atturo booth was both figuratively and literally colorful.
News

Atturo Expands Its On- and Off-Road Horizons in Europe

Atturo Tire Corp. is a specialist producer and supplier of tires dedicated to the SUV, crossover, 4x4 and light truck sectors. Based in Waukegan, Ill., the enterprising American company still found time to support the first Tire Cologne show in Europe.

Yokohama displayed its products in style at The Tire Cologne.
News

Yokohama Showcases Its Products in Style at Tire Cologne

Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. supported the first Tire Cologne show in Cologne, Germany, in an eye-catching and professional fashion. Its booth highlighted the company’s total commitment to the manufacture and on-going development of premium car, winter and "hobby" tires.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from MTD delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the tire industry and don't miss a thing!