The Average Shop Experience is Still Very … Meh
According to Ratchet+Wrench Inside the Consumer's Mind survey respondents, the average repair shop experience is nothing to write home about.
Most respondents who brought their vehicles in for routine maintenance, noted location and proximity as the reason they visited the shop they chose, and an overwhelming majority indicated they’d return to that shop in the future.
And yet, when asked what they’d seen, witnessed and experienced throughout their interaction with those shops, the results were underwhelming.
Al Pridemore agrees noting, “Unfortunately, we’ve found mediocrity can still be seen as enough in this industry.” As the co-owner of four Pride Auto Care locations in Colorado who has invested heavily in the customer experience, Pridemore finds customers continue to be surprised by the attention his team pays to the overall shop experience “because their expectation is that the bar is still pretty low. It’s amazing something as simple as having a clean store can be seen as exceptional, but it’s what they’ve been conditioned for.”
"A lot of people will stick with bad shop because it's a lot of work to seek out something new—not because they're getting the experience they're looking for" — Anna Zeck, Ratchet+Wrench editorial director
Pridemore notes that each investment he’s made into his shop’s customer experience has not only helped to build customer loyalty, but widen the gap between his shop and local competitors who aren’t doing the same—something Matt Lachowitzer, owner of five Matt’s Automotive Service Centers in Minnesota and North Dakota, believes will become a breaking point for many shops.
From the teddy bears his team tucks into any car seat that comes through the shop, to the shop’s fact-finding goals (each team member does their part to learn about each customer’s family, occupation, hobbies, and dreams), to its on-site “Director of WOW,” who helps coordinate surprise personalized customer gifts, Lachowitzer has centered his shop’s entire culture around the customer experience.
“They want to feel an experience and that’s what makes the buying process happen, so if the customer experience isn’t your focus, if you’re not trying to set yourself apart in how they feel when they leave the shop, your days are limited."