Show and Tell
It’s no secret that many customers are uneducated about automotive-related issues. They often don’t understand terminologies, parts or repair processes. That uncertainty can make customers wary of a shop’s advice.
Gene Morrill, owner of Certified Automotive Specialists in Glendora, Calif., says it’s beneficial for shops to educate their customers about such things, and using digital documentation to describe and illustrate vehicle issues is the best solution. Morrill has been using photos for several years to visually illustrate damaged components and repair needs for customers, but he took the effort a step further last year with the implementation of video.
“Cameras are getting more prevalent in our business,” Morrill says. “Customers increasingly want access to digital types of repair documentation.”
Morrill says video is an ideal strategy to capture things that still photos can’t, such as wheel wobbles, sparks, fluid leaks or noises. The documentation helps prove your repair advice, explain your work, and develop trust—especially with new or skeptical customers.
“It’s a great benefit for the customer when they can actually see certain things and really understand what you’re talking about,” Morrill says. And doing it is easier than you might think.
Morrill says consumers like things to be visual. They might not understand verbal descriptions of technical subjects, yet they want to clearly understand what’s wrong with their vehicle.
—Gene Morrill, owner, Certified Automotive Specialists
Even though some service advisors have a knack for communication and can paint mental pictures for customers, video is still a tool they can lean on to increase customer confidence. It provides additional talking points and thorough explanations during customer interactions. Service advisors can illustrate what the customer is purchasing to avoid confusion about what work will be performed.
“Video allows you to present the entire repair package in a better way. Everything you do is a show; it’s a production to build customer confidence,” Morrill says. “Visually showing damaged components and repairs really helps.”
In addition, some jobs have items uncovered that weren’t initially discussed with the customer.
“Our responsibility is to make customers feel at home,” Morrill says. “Videos really reaffirm our credibility and quality of work.”
How It Works
Morrill says the video recording process is simple. It doesn’t require the use of any new technologies or software, except for a device that’s probably already in your pocket—a smartphone.
Morrill’s staff members shoot the videos during the disassembly and repair process. Capturing videos is not the responsibility of any one person in the shop. Any service advisor, technician or office manager who is available can do it. They don’t record technicians actually making repairs, but rather damaged parts and part failures revealed in each step of the repair process. Videos are primarily used to document anything that can’t be shown with a basic photo.
“Videos are shot at the staff’s discretion,” Morrill says. “They shoot video when technicians find something that’s difficult to describe to the customer, or something they think the customer would appreciate seeing.”
Morrill says his staff has two options for recording videos. They most commonly use the recording capabilities of their own smartphones. Morrill says smartphone video cameras work great as long as they’re updated with a high-definition camera. For staff members who don’t have a smartphone, Morrill also provides a standard handheld video camera for them to use.
After recording, the video is immediately uploaded to the shop’s server. The service advisors email or text the video files to the customer so they can visually point out all necessary part replacements and repairs.
“The process is that simple,” Morrill says.
Do It Right
Bill Garcia, president of Bill’s Quality Auto Care in Simi Valley, Calif., has been using video for four years. He offers a bit of advice to help you get started:
• Prove the vehicle subject. Capture video of the vehicle’s front or rear license plate at the beginning of every video before moving to the damaged component. That verifies the vehicle that is the subject of the video.
• Keep it uncut. After capturing the license plate, keep the rest of the video one steady stream. Move the camera around to the necessary areas of the vehicle without starting and stopping. That adds legitimacy to the video by proving you’re not making misleading edits.
• Reveal the problem. The damage you’re trying to illustrate in the video should be clearly visible. Make sure to zoom in and shine light on the component to highlight the issue.
• Narrate the footage. Make verbal comments during the video to describe what is being shown.
• Show the final product. Create before and after videos to show customers what their vehicle looks like post-repair when everything is working properly. That further educates the customer about their vehicle, and proves that you performed the work that was agreed upon.
• Keep it short. Videos should be short and sweet. Keep them less than one minute long.
• Assess your work. Always preview the video before sending it to the customer to ensure it makes sense and conveys the proper information. Providing customers with poor quality videos can hurt your shop’s credibility rather than enhance it.
A Better Image
Garcia says the root goal of video documentation is to better educate customers about their repair. But the strategy has also improved the overall business by projecting a more professional, innovative, customer-friendly image. Plus, it’s convenient for customers. Garcia says the tactic has created a unique and memorable customer experience that drives repeat business.
Customers never expect that type of offering, and are highly impressed with the effort to provide them with such thorough explanations of their vehicle, he says. It eases their minds, instills confidence in the shop’s work, and validates the honesty and credibility of the shop’s expertise. Garcia says customers more quickly approve repair recommendations, and feel a higher sense of trust and comfort coming back to the shop.
Morrill has found the same results.
“The more professional and innovative you are, the better and more loyal customers you’ll acquire—and the more money you’ll make.”