When it comes to Auto repair there is some persistent thinking. Used to be that a lot of people knew how to repair basics. With advancing technology, cars have become much more complex and specialty tools are required even for simple repairs.
That makes people feel anxious about car repair for several reasons:
1. They are not taught about cars anymore. The basics of how a car works remain the same but advancing technology requires technicians to use specialty tools. A lot of electric components also need to be programmed to the vehicle. These things are totally cost prohibitive for people to do at home.
2. Car repair is expensive, but besides a house our cars are usually the second biggest investment we have. In order to maintain value and usability we need to keep them in good repair.
There are basically 3 categories of repair: Maintenance, regular repair and emergency repair. Maintenance repair is regular service that is required for your vehicle as listed in your owner’s manual. The most common maintenance service is oil changes. Doing this as recommended will really help extending the life of your vehicle. Regular repairs happen on an as-needed basis.
Your mechanic should do a visual inspection with every oil change. This way problems are caught as they come up and a customer can be prepared for upcoming repairs and schedule them.
When this doesn’t happen there will be possible emergencies that can be extremely costly and dangerous, like broken belts, that can cost you your engine. Also at this point the customer has no choice but to get the vehicle repaired.
3. They had a bad experience.
Unfortunately, and I don’t understand the thinking behind this, there are still too many repair shops that will sell customers things they don’t need. Yes, they are making a sale at that time, but when customers find out they got “ripped-off” they will not return to that shop.
Let me tell you right here; NOBODY makes money on oil changes, but it gives a reputable shop the opportunity to check over the vehicle to find possible issues. These issues might need to get fixed right away, but more often than not they just need to be observed.
When a customer walks away, getting exactly what they hoped for, it is the beginning of building a relationship on trust between them and the repair shop.
The only question that remains, is: How do I find a good, trustworthy shop?
1. “I want a shop, that is convenient”
Usually the shops that work best are conveniently located for us. That means either somewhere close to work, close to our homes or somewhere in between. Everything else just takes more time and effort than most of us have.
2. Ask people you know and trust or read the reviews other people have left for shops you are considering.
We value different things so make sure you find what you’re looking for. When reading reviews, I think we’re pretty much alike. I read 1 stars and 5 stars.
What’s important here, is what these reviews have in common, especially the 1 stars. When the negative reviews are all over the place about the complaints, it’s usually because these are customers that can’t be reasoned with and no matter what you say, it’s just not what they want to hear, let alone pay for.
When the negative reviews are all talking about the same issues, it’s possibly because there really might be an issue with that particular shop.
3. You can check out a business with the Better Business Bureau. Anybody in any given area can and will be listed on their page. The businesses that are more prominently featured just paid money for that benefit. It does not mean they are better. That’s what the rating is for. This is also the place where customers who have a grievance can file a complaint. The BBB will investigate these and give the shop owner an opportunity to respond.
4. The shop shows pride in its appearance.
A repair shop does not have to be brand new or have every amenity, but I think we all want to see a care about the place.
How clean it is or how comfortable it feels. I know that most shops prefer for cars to be dropped off because it allows them a little room to adjust. But for those, who prefer to wait it should be comfortable, nice, and clean and provide some basic refreshments like coffee and water. A TV or interesting reading material won’t hurt to pass the time.
These things combined are important to me, because it shows how much thought a shop put into making the visit to their shop a great experience.
That said, I have dealt with businesses that didn’t fit any of the concerns listed above, but are great at what they do.
5. Last, but not Least:
Communication and Trust.
When a customer brings in a vehicle, there are a few things that should always happen. Not only does the shop need to get good contact information, but also take down all concerns. NOBODY knows your car like you do. So if something seems wrong enough to you to be concerned, a shop needs to take that seriously and address that issue.
Now there’s always the possibility that they find something other that what the vehicle came in for, but the original issue is the most important and possible charges like diagnostic fees need to be discussed beforehand and approved.
After the technician had a chance to inspect the vehicle all concerns need to be addressed in a way that makes sense to the customer.
How can a customer be expected to make a decision if he/she doesn’t understand the importance of how things work?
Detailed information must be provided, and an estimate be given. Not everything is always clear cut, so great communication is key here.
Repairing a vehicle is really mostly about the safety of the driver and passengers and the way any issue is explained, should show this concern. For all the things that will need to be repaired, sometimes a shop will tell a customer that the vehicle is just not worth fixing and a waste of the customers’ money. This is good advice too.
Ultimately, there are lot of different factors why a customer will choose one repair shop over another, but the points brought up here are a good starting point in finding the shop that’s right for you.