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Q&A: Jim Lang Says Diagnostics, Reaching Millennials Remain Keys for Shops

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Oct. 30, 2017—As he looks ahead to the future, auto industry expert Jim Lang sees two pressing issues that remain as a barrier for many repair shops: the approach taken with regard to both diagnostics and reaching millennial clients.

Lang, who was in Las Vegas on Monday in advance of the AAPEX 2017 event, addressed the aforementioned topics in an interview with Ratchet+Wrench. And, he suggested that reaching millennial customers might be a quicker fix these days than quickly shoring up a shop’s diagnostic short-comings.

“Diagnostics is a major issue right now,” said the industry veteran, who hails from Fort Wayne, Ind. “The problem with [there being] more foreign vehicles nowadays is now you have to have the tools to work on that, and some of them are vehicle-specific, and some are nameplate-specific. So, to repair a Mercedes, you maybe have to have a whole different set of tools, diagnostic or otherwise.”

And tooling up, of course, can create prohibitive expenditures. As a response, Lang suggests that repair shops get as many OEM certifications as possible, because those can be marketed to customers. That will also pay off in the long run, Lang says, because it’ll make a facility more credible, including with millennial customers.

The industry expert also suggests that facilities need to consider hiring more young employees who, in theory, could likely relate to millennial clients.

“At least they’ll have a means of communication” with millennials, Lang says of young employees.

According to Lang, the millennial customer, now more than ever, relies on information they have unearthed about repair shops via the Internet. Those young consumers tend to believe what they read on the web, too, whether it be customer reviews or information about possible solutions to what might ail their vehicle.

So, to calm any customer concerns with regard to shaky Internet reviews, Lang says repair facilities need to “offer them more than they can get from somebody else, where you warranty your work. And, you do a complete job.”

The industry expert also suggests assuring today’s young clients that your facility’s knowledge base will keep their vehicle safe for years to come, and can help avoid wear-and-tear down the line.

“If you’re not willing to discuss with the millennial what is really wrong with their vehicle, and why it costs X-plus-Y instead of just X to fix the vehicle, then you’re going to have a real problem with them,” Lang says. “Because they come in with preconceived notions of what’s wrong with their vehicle, and how much it should cost.”

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