When I first moved to the city where I now live, I found an oil change place just a couple of miles from my house. The location was convenient and I never had any major issues with the service there, so it became my go-to shop for automotive oil changes and other light maintenance tasks.
One day, when I was in a rush to get an oil change for an upcoming out-of-town trip, I stopped by my usual place and found it to be very crowded. Because of the long line there, I decided to drive a few miles further to another auto maintenance shop I hadn’t used before. The services offered by this other place were very similar to those available at my usual stop. The experience, though, was quite different.
When I drove up, I was immediately greeted by the manager before I even stepped out of my car. He pointed me to the lounge area, and immediately got to work on my car. Inside, an attendant offered coffee and pointed out the location of the restroom. Unlike many auto shop waiting areas, this one was clean and bright and had plenty of comfortable seating.
While I waited, I noticed that the shop’s prices were posted on a placard on the wall. Flat rates for common fixes, and an hourly rate for more complex work. The waiting area was also free of the typical impulse-buy temptations (air fresheners, etc.) usually found in such establishments.
After a short wait, the manager returned to let me know that my car was ready. In past experiences, the technician would just shout the patron’s name into the waiting area, summoning them to the counter to pay for the service. At this new place, though, the manager walked over to me, addressed me by name, and asked me to join him for a quick recap of the work done and their findings.
He walked me through a few maintenance items: My wipers were in good shape, my transmission fluid was fine, and my serpentine drive belt was nearing the end of its life. He suggested a couple of preventive maintenance tasks without going into hard-sell mode. He then closed out my ticket, and after I paid the bill he shook my hand and bade me a good day.
A Business Lesson from an Oil Change
As I drove away from that oil change, I knew I’d found my new shop. The outstanding customer service, clear communication, extraordinarily clean and comfortable waiting room, and transparent pricing had won me over.
I didn’t make the change because the services were any different. The shop I used to use offered a similar set of services, and I never had any concerns with the quality of their work. Nor was price a factor in my decision. In fact, the shop I switched to actually charged a bit more for an oil change. The reason I changed was all about how the staff took care of me. If they put that much effort into making sure that I’m happy, I can reasonably expect that they’re giving a similar level of attention to the quality of service my automobile is getting.
That change happened several years ago, and I’m still a satisfied patron. The over-the-top attention to the customer wasn’t just an act – it’s clearly the way these folks do business on a day-to-day basis.
Customer service matters – a lot. It’s what won me over to this automotive shop. I do my best to carry that same lesson into the relationships with my own clients.