Bad Service? Take Action!

Okay, maybe not that. But if you have had bad customer service, take some appropriate action. Start when it is happening. If your mechanic or auto sales staff member is not treating you with great customer service, let them know – and don’t use sign language! Tell them, nicely, that you feel that you are being treated less than fairly or kindly. Let them know what you expect and ask how you can get that type of service from them. All business owners and employees want to provide stellar service. Give them the chance to by informing them nicely when they are not. If that doesn’t work, write them a letter explaining your dissatisfaction and give them the opportunity for a do-over. You might get something for free or at a discount. Who knows… you might even get an apology!

There is No “I” in Auto Shop

Shout out to Caroline Lake and her crew at Caroline’s Cars on the other side of the pond!

This post is for you fine lady customers and you auto shop owners. Why? Because we are focusing our posts on customer service this month. And both customers and service techs are responsible for the level of customer service that is delivered and received. The way I see it, the customer is part of the team. And there is no “I” in team, or in auto shop. Let me explain…

A customer walks into a shop. Sounds like a bad joke, right? Well, if the customer is unprepared to discuss what service she needs, is in a nasty mood, or is utterly intimidated by the staff or the atmosphere, it could be worse than a bad joke. Likewise, if the shop is not prepared to serve this customer, make her feel welcome and at ease, and willing to have her leave in a good mood, the outcome could be disastrous.

This might seem like a tall order, but it really isn’t. Ladies, we’ve already touched on how you can be accountable consumers by doing the following:

  • Be prepared and know your car and why you are bringing it to the shop
  • Know the maintenance, service and repair history of your vehicle
  • Do your homework and compare prices, search online for estimates and consider used or wholesale parts
  • Be courteous and polite to the staff and expect the same in return

Shops, it’s your turn now. We’ve given the ladies the road map to becoming the perfect customer. Now treat them that way by following these steps:

  • Greet them! This might seem like a no-brainer, but too many customers go unnoticed and ignored. Not a good first impression. Say “Hi,” smile and make them feel welcome. Even if you’re busy, tell them you are glad they are there and you will be with them shortly.
  • Make them comfortable. Yeah, ladies like being comfortable. Make sure your waiting area is clean and welcoming. Don’t have inappropriate pictures or television shows on. Keep a mix or literature, some related to cars and auto repair, and some that would interest professionals, sports enthusiasts, homemakers, seniors and women of all types.
  • Make eye contact…. with their EYES! I’m not saying that any guys out there would look anywhere else, but women are often uncomfortable and anxious when they show up at the auto shop. Put them at ease by making direct eye contact when you talk to them. This shows that you are paying attention to them and that you care. Just like ladies have to work to break stereotypes, male mechanics must work to break the negative stereotypes often associated with them. Sorry guys, that’s just the way it is.
  • Speak in non-car language. Gauge the level of knowledge your customer has. As you explain what needs to be done and what you recommend, ask if she understands. If not, explain it in a way that makes more sense and show her the parts on her car that need to be replaced or serviced.
  • Ask for her business. Don’t assume that every customer will just roll over and sign the sales slip. The best way to earn a loyal customer is to ask for their business. Once you’ve followed the outline above, you will be in a position to sincerely ask your customer if they would like you to complete that service for them. Don’t sell, don’t push, don’t pressure. Just ask. Explain the benefits and costs of the service, and the consequences and costs of not getting the service done.
  • Finally, ask your customer if she had a good experience, would she recommend you and would she log on to www.womenautoknow.com and post a glowing review of your shop.

Shops, share this post with your staff; and customers, share with your shop. Help each other deliver and receive the best customer experience possible. After all, we’re all on the same team!

Expect Great Customer Service

Is this what you get when you walk into an auto repair shop? Are you ignored? Do you feel like YOU are trying to earn the shop’s attention, instead of the shop trying to win YOURS? Well ladies, it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it should NEVER be this way.

Walk into your auto repair shop confident and ready to be catered to. How? Try following these steps:

  • Know why you are there.
  • Know the make, model and history of your vehicle
  • Be prepared to discuss the service you need intelligently
  • Do your homework – research what might be wrong and what the cost could be BEFORE you walk into the shop
  • Ask for options, like buying used parts or purchasing the parts yourself
  • Tell the shop you will be getting a second opinion
  • Expect nothing less than courteous, respectful service
  • If you don’t get it, go somewhere else!

Don’t Get Fooled with Your Auto Repairs!

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and noticed the price you thought you were going to pay is not what rang up on the  register? Or been overcharImageged at a restaurant at one time or another? Whether something got added to your bill or the price was higher than was advertised, either way, we would like to think that this was just an oversight. The same thing happens with auto repair. You might find a charge that was not what you agreed to. Maybe the mechanic found some other problems with your car while working on it. Or that too-good-to-be-true price on tires was exactly that… too good to be true! No matter what the reason, we’ve all been misled at one time or another.

Usually, an overcharge is an honest mistake. Perhaps the mechanic just got back from his honeymoon and his head was still in the clouds and not in your engine. Maybe the sales person didn’t communicate to the service manager that you had a snazzy Women Auto Know VIP card and get a special discount. When you get your bill and realize that it is not what you had been promised, what do you do?

Do you give them the benefit of the doubt? In most cases, that is the lady-like thing to do. But when it comes to your car, don’t sacrifice safety to save face! Let’s say you drop your car off at the garage to have the oil changed, belts replaced and filters checked. But the garage is busy or the mechanic working on your car is a new hire. As a result, the work doesn’t get done right. Without knowing, you smile pretty, pay your bill and thank them for maintaining your car. But as you drive off, humming happily to your favorite jam, you hear a loud squeak coming from your engine and puffs of smoke start billowing out from under your hood!

Now a couple things are happening here. First, you begin to doubt the oil was changed and the belts were replaced. Second, you seriously guess the workmanship of the shop. And third, you drown out the best part of your favorite tune with four letter curse words! But the most damaging thing that has just occurred is that you’ve lost confidence!

Our mission at Women Auto Know is to educate and empower you to be a savvy and safe driver, passenger and consumer. Here are a few things you can do to prevent mishaps from happening and to prevent yourself from feeling fooled with auto repairs:

  • Tape your service requests to your steering wheel – sounds kind of simple, but this is one sure fire way to guarantee the mechanic working on your car addresses all of your service requests, regardless of what the salesperson orders.
  • Play a game of show and tell – ask to see the parts that have been replaced and ask to be shown what work was done on your car. Mechanics are usually more than happy to review the work they did and show you the damage and wear on your old parts. This is a simple way to guarantee that you are getting all the work done that you requested, that you needed, and not any more. And, this is a fantastic way to get a quick automotive education.
  • Review the invoice – just like at the restaurant, go over each line on your bill with the salesperson to be sure that you are paying what you have been quoted. If there is a change in price, have the salesperson explain why. You usually have to sign a work order before the service is done and then again after. If you are unhappy with the price, don’t sign.
  • Get initials – if a salesperson offers you a special deal that is not clearly advertised, have them initial the work order or sign it, verifying that they have the authority to offer you that price because they may not be available when you go to pay for the job.

Be proactive in your auto repair and you can avoid being fooled. Be assertive, ask questions, take the Women Auto Know pledge, and if you are happy with the price and work, be an advocate for your shop. Then you can smile and thank them for a job well done!

Check out all our other tips to keep you safe on the road and in the shop at WomenAutoKnow.com!

Mechanically yours,

Audra

Trick or Treat?

Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31-1Trick or Treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat. If you don’t, I don’t care…
Like the children’s rhyme auto repair can, unfortunately, be like a game of Russian Roulette. Trick or Treat? Will I walk away a satisfied customer who paid appropriate prices? Or will I walk away wondering if I got the repairs I need and spent too much?
With a week of horror movies, costumes and ghost stories told around flashlights under tents made of couch cushions I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a recent story (with a happy ending) we received from a member of Women Auto Know.
Dear Women Auto Know, 
Recently I was involved in a minor motor vehicle collision where a vehicle rear ended me and I subsequently hit a SUV in front of me. After the initial shock of the accident and ensuring that I and passengers had not sustained any life threatening juries, my first thought was gosh, how’s my car going to get fixed?

I called into my insurance company to report the accident and I called into report the accident to the insurance company of the man who hit me.  After speaking to an adjuster I was told that I needed to bring my car into one of their “approved auto claims centers” Unknowingly I agreed to meet with an adjuster to view the damages sustained to my vehicle.  Something seemed a little fishy, why did I have to bring my car to one of their centers? Why couldn’t I choose who I wanted to do my repairs? Everything I’d overhead my dad and uncles talking about regarding accidents and how to handle them went out of the window. I felt pressured and rushed speaking to the insurance representative, I was clueless.

I spoke to someone I trusted wouldn’t steer me in to the wrong direction. She told me that I had the right to bring my car to any auto repair shop of my choosing. She explained to me that the insurance companies and these auto repair shops have a relationship and that I needed to go to somewhere where my best interest would be served. I didn’t want to get low-balled. I got schooled. Thanks Audra!

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With my new-found confidence I called my adjuster and informed him that I couldn’t make our appointment and that I would be taking my car to a shop I knew and trusted. Immediately I was told that if they were paying for repairs they had the right to view the damages and make their own quote and that if I wanted to take my car to a shop outside of their network I had to go through my insurance and they would reimburse them. I emphatically asserted i knew this wasn’t the case and I could take my car for an independent inspection. The adjuster changed his tune, conceded that I was in fact correct and I could choose to do so if I wished. This just goes to show that a little knowledge goes a long way!

– Linsey

There are still many skeptics, but the following may illustrate the widespread distrust of car repair?

Auto Repair – Just How Much Fraud Is There?

RepairTrust studies show that 98% of all car repair shops are charging excessively in one form or another. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that automotive service consumers are scammed tens of billions of dollars every year. And repair shops—dealerships, local shops, and franchises—are repeatedly at the top of consumer complaint lists every year.

RepairTrust Consumer Surveys indicate the following…
•86% of repair customers stated car repair prices are either too high or outrageous
•78% of car repair customers suspect that they pay too much for car repair
•70% are concerned about getting overcharged for car repair
•40% stated that they knew they were overcharged for car repair
•73% want a resource to determine fair car repair prices
•78% want information that will help them avoid car repair scams
•69% want information that would allow them to advocate for themselves•62% want information that will help lower car repair costs

With numbers like those, anyone would be afraid. That’s what we’re working to helping the public with, here at Women Auto Know. 

Do you have a horror story that you would like to share? We want to hear from you.  Comment on here or Facebook us. 

Mechanically Yours,

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