Inside the Consumer's Mind

Is Perception Still Repair’s Biggest Barrier?

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It’s no secret that going to an auto repair shop isn’t an ideal destination for most. In fact, an often cited study from says that most women would rather endure a trip to the dentist than an auto repair shop. 

And while there are plenty of shops who are working hard to improve the repair customer experience, the customer’s perception of the auto repair industry often remains negative. 

In Ratchet+Wrench’s Inside the Consumer’s Mind video series, editorial director Anna Zeck and vice president of content Bryce Evans dig into the longlasting poor image the auto repair industry still carries today and where that perception originates from a customer’s perspective. 

A major factor playing into that negative perception? Anxiety around what the overall experience will ultimately cost the customer. 

Maintenance is a necessity for vehicle owners, but there’s often little they can do to predict how much they’ll need to spend when they bring their car in. There’s a large degree of uncertainty and repairs are often not only expensive, but a cost many feel they need to pay out of pocket, on the spot. Customers often enter a repair shop feeling vulnerable, often lacking trust that the shop will charge the correct amount and avoid selling unnecessary work or avoid taking advantage of their limited repair experience. 

“It’s a difficult thing to wrap your head around when you’re not knowledgeable about the work they’re performing,” Evans says. 

And yet, even as progress has been made when it comes to customer education and price transparency—of those surveyed by Ratchet+Wrench about their most recent repair shop experience, 66 percent reported that they were not surprised by the cost of their most recent repair—auto repair remains a begrudged expense. 

“It’s always something you weren’t planning on spending. You can budget for it, but even if you budget for it, you’re hoping you’re never going to use it,” Evans says.

There’s no way to completely eliminate the sting that an auto repair expense can leave, but there is one clear solution shops can refine to lessen the blow and set their shop apart from the competition—a standout customer repair experience

As Evans and Zeck note, independent repair shops must provide an experience that is better than the service offered in warranty contracts and the convenience of a chain repair business to remain a cut above. Customers can’t avoid auto repair costs, but they can feel supported and satisfied throughout the process. 

Zeck and Evans drill in deeper on the topic in this week’s episode of the Inside the Consumer’s Mind video series. 

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