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First Impressions are Everything

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Let’s say you went to the Dentist to have an examination. You walk in the door, and the first thing you see is dirty and stained carpet. You sign in on a wrinkled up sheet of paper sitting on the counter with a pen taped to a dirty, tattered piece of string that looks like it has been tugged and pulled at for weeks. The receptionist—who looks like she just rolled out of bed, with her hair messed up and wearing what looks like street clothes—asks you to take a seat and fill out some forms. You sit on the waiting room chair to fill out your forms and notice the seat bottom is loose and torn, so you sit still, patiently waiting. As you look around at the disorganized waiting room, you wonder if you made the right choice as to where to have your dental exam done. You start to get a little nervous, as this didn’t look like the place you picked when you looked them up. 

At this point you wonder, “Is this the place for me? Will the office personnel lose my chart or mix it up with someone else’s? Is this place sanitary and do they even wash their hands before working on me? Or is it just dirty in the waiting room?  Do they have the proper equipment to work on me and are they trained to do this job? As you sit with anxiety, all of these thoughts are going through your head. You slowly get up—trying not to lose the seat bottom—leave the clipboard at the counter and dash out the door to your car.


If you have ever been through a situation like this, then you can understand why it is so important for your business to have the look and feel of a professional organization. First impressions are very important, and you must do your best to gain each customer’s trust from the first moment they walk in the door.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The exterior of your shop should look inviting. When a potential client drives up, it is the first thing they see that represents your company and you don’t want to start out with a negative impact. This is where the whole experience starts.

Your customer counter and waiting area should look beautiful. I say beautiful, because it is a word women use. You want the area to look and smell clean and be very organized. Remember that you are being judged as your customer sits and looks around.

Service advisors, managers and technicians should be neat in appearance and look professional. You should be in uniform, organized and ready to help. Your customers need to feel like they are dealing with someone who actually cares about what they do. If you are neat and clean, you will probably keep their car neat and clean.

Your shop area should be neat, clean and organized.  Everything should have its place. When you are neat, clean and organized, you will have much better productivity and a safer work environment.

Plus, if the need arises to bring a customer out to their vehicle, they will be much more impressed with your organization and feel confident they are in the right place.

I have seen a lot of shops in my day, and I have to tell you, I have seen far more shops that looked like they were something out of a junk yard digest than that of a professional place to do business.

My mother used to say to me when I was young, something that I will never forget:

“You can be poor, but you can be clean.”

So whether you have lots of money or are strapped for cash, your shop can be neat, clean and professional. By following these few simple steps, you are sure to see good results in the way of more, and happier, customers.

B.J. Lee has worked in the automotive repair industry for more than 30 years. He is an industry consultant and trainer for and owner of Stellar Performance Inc. in 29 Palms, Calif.

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