Through the Customer’s Eyes

Nov. 1, 2012

Have you ever taken a look at your business from the perspective of a potential customer? If you haven’t, give this a try:

The next time you pull up to your shop, view it through the eyes of a consumer in need of a repair. What kind of impression does your facility make? What makes it worth checking out over other shops in the area?

Think about how accessible it is, how prominent your signage is and what message it sends, the condition of your parking lot, building and landscaping. Does it look like the type of place you would trust with your vehicle? Does the lobby and shop floor reinforce that feeling of comfort?

If you’re thinking that your shop’s technical ability and commitment to high-quality repairs negate the need for a nice-looking business, keep in mind that none of that matters if you can’t get customers through the door. The image you project, and the first impression you make, is crucial. Consumers have many options when it comes to auto repair. If your shop isn’t giving them a good vibe, they’ll find someplace else to take their business.

This month, we feature several shops that have made a commitment to curb appeal, which has had a big impact on their businesses. In “Get the Look,” four shop operators share their simple strategies for putting a shine on their businesses that helps attract new customers and keep them coming back.

Vernie Menke, owner of Menke’s Automotive Repair in Newburgh, Ind., says his shop’s image has also helped him attract a certain type of customer. 

“Our clientele is (middle) to upper class, but that’s what we developed because of the type of our facility and the way we do business,” says Menke, who noted that his shop’s average repair order is $490.

In “Building an Icon,” shop owner Rick Hughlett shares how he grew his business from a wooden shack into one of the finest looking shops in the country—and that look reflects the quality of the work that Rick’s Automotive performs on every vehicle.

“It’s about building trust for the customer,” Hughlett says of his shop’s image. “It’s easier for them to see you as a top-notch facility, if you actually look like a top-notch facility.”

You can also find simple tips for enhancing your shop’s curb appeal in B.J. Lee’s Shop Smarts column this month.

If you think your shop has the look, we’d love to see it. We feature stand-out facilities year-round in our Shop View section, so we’re always on the hunt for the next jaw-dropping repair center. Just fill out the brief submission form at  

Elsewhere in this issue, we offer advice for improving your shop’s phone interactions with customers, strategies for increasing safety and productivity, a case study evaluating whether an owner could turn a shoddy facility into a high-end business, and more stories that we hope will help you drive your business forward.

As always, if you’ve got success strategies of your own that you’d like to share, please send me an email. You might find your story in a future issue of Ratchet+Wrench.

Jake Weyer
[email protected]

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