Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry
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58 NOLN | www.noln.net datory before any oil change info can be discussed. Every customer is offered a compli- mentary bottle of chilled water. Without fail, they are nearly unanimously and pleasantly shocked that anyone would just give them a bottle for free. e cost to me is mere pennies a bottle, but the goodwill I get in return is priceless to me. I make it a point to talk to each and every customer before they leave and let them know in no uncertain terms that I appreciate their business. I usually say it like this: "I know there are several places for you to choose from, and I just want to let you know how much I appreciate you coming into our shop today." e reaction from the customers is usually astonish- ment that someone actually appreciates their business. If I am not in my shop for any reason, my managers have been well trained in exactly this aspect, and they dil- igently keep up the pace. When a car pulls up outside, we don't just direct them in, we move quickly out- side to greet them with a big smile, make them feel welcome and let them know that the other employee standing at the front of the bay will be guiding them in. It's all about sense of urgency. If at any time I have an employee with nothing critical to do, they are to go out front and stand on the sidewalk and wave at passing cars. e attention this garners from passing motorists is amazing. It is astonishing how much you can increase your car count from this one simple pro- cedure. It is also amazing to me how many former colleagues of mine think I'm nuts for standing outside and waving at cars, clearly convinced that it does no good. If only they knew what I know. After the customer is cashed out, I al- ways ask, "What else can we do for you before you leave?" is is like the fresh red cherry on top of the sundae. ey are usu- ally at a loss to ask for anything, as they are still impressed by the service they have received so far. Saying this after the cash- out is critical, which reinforces the idea that this is just more great service, not an attempt to sell them something else. I make sure to mention to the custom- er at least a couple of times that they are welcome to return at any time for the free fluid top-off. Like most lube shops, I top- off any fluids free of charge except for oil, brake fluid and gas. When a customer brings in a coupon, I make a big deal of how valuable it is and how much money it saved them. I also make sure I take it from them and attach it to my paperwork at the end of the cash- out process. However, right before I put the paperwork in my bin next to the cash- out stand, I ask them if they have another car at home. If they say yes, I yank the cou- pon off and give it back to them and say, "Go ahead and use this on that car, too." ey are almost always impressed by this gesture. It may be a bit more difficult to track your coupon redemption and validi- ty that way, but it is well worth the effort. is one is my personal favorite: If a customer comes in with an especially nice vehicle — an old classic car or maybe an exotic newer one — they are clearly enam- ored of their vehicle. I know exactly how they feel, simply because I am also a raving car-mad lunatic, and I love cars, too! I ask them if they want to be on our "Customer Wall of Fame," and, if they do, I take a pic- ture of them and their car in front of my shop. I then simply print out a picture on the office computer, frame it and hang it in the waiting area. As customers sit and wait for their car, they marvel at the cars on the wall. When they know theirs is go- ing to be added to the lineup, they feel like part of the family. ese are only a few of the many, many things we do in our shops that we think give us a decided edge over our competi- tion. Our prices are fair, but not always the least expensive. And our coupons are not crazy in the amount we give off if you use them. I am a firm believer in the supreme val- ue of customer service over all else, and in the 20-something years I have been in this industry, there is nothing to come along that has even come close to convincing me otherwise. So, what is today's lesson? If you want a lot of great customers, give them a lot of great customer service! S KIT SULLIVAN is a partner in a multi-unit, Florida-based quick lube company. A 20-year veteran of the industry, Sullivan has more than 28 years experience in sales and management training. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org " Right before I put the paperwork in my bin next to the cash-out stand, I ask them if they have another car at home. If they say yes, I yank the coupon off, give it back to them and say, "Go ahead and use this on that car, too."