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  • Dean posted an update in the group Group logo of Experiential Customer Environments Experiential Customer Environments 5 years, 11 months ago

    I went in to have my car’s oil changed over the weekend and realized that the auto shop is not the greatest place to do business. The place is usually empty, loud, and boring, and since you can’t exactly drive home to wait, taking your car in for repairs is not a great experience. Do you think shops like this can improve the way they do business by making their stores nicer? Is there any reason to improve the environment, or is a place like an auto shop better off being a garage with a room to wait in?

    • It sounds like the shops you are talking about are those garages in the plazas and strip malls that keep garages and workshops in the back. These are really different than using a dealership for repairs. For those smaller garages, it all depends on who owns it and how they operate. I usually just do my own maintenance on my car, but for bigger jobs or things that are just too time consuming, I drive down to Tire Works to have it done. They have a pretty nice lobby for me to wait in, but it still is not a place I enjoy being. Employees are usually very busy, and besides the few magazines they have there is not much to do. I think the lobby could use some life, maybe a TV playing sports or DIY car shows. If there was something more interesting than outdated messy magazines, I think it would be a bit easier to sit in. Not a great place to be, but less terrible.

      • Why do you think they have such a skeleton lobby and crew? Most waiting places have a receptionist and things to do. Do you think they need a better system?

    • These auto shops are better off keeping everything the same right now. You don’t usually stick around after you bring your car in for maintenance. Someone usually will take you home until the job is done unless it’s a 15 minute oil change or something quick like that. So why would you even bother upgrading a lobby no one really is using? This is not meant to be a five-star resort stay. Auto shops are loud, messy places where employees are covered in oil and grease, not a place for a family outing. The waiting areas may not be the nicest in the world, but they’re a step above what the garages are like. They will pull in more business if they are offering good, affordable service, and saving money on the waiting room means they can make their rates cheaper. So forget how good the place looks and focus on the thing that they do best – fixing cars.

      • Fixing cars is the most important part, but rates will end up being the same because almost all services are standardized for time. The only real difference between shops is the hourly rate they charge, and it will always be high. Plus, not everyone is able to leave when their car is being worked on. Would it kill them to consider these people when designing their lobby?

        • Yes, it could kill their business. Say they improved the lobby, but the money they used could have gone to new equipment in the garage. Equipment that broke right after the lobby was redone. Now you have a businesses that can’t operate because they needed fancy chairs and a tv. Shops need to focus on what matters for operation, and that is price and tools to run the business.

    • To truly answer this question requires a bit of context so that we understand what, and more specifically who, we are dealing with. As with all businesses, automotive repair is typically targeted towards specific consumers due to the variety of vehicles available in the market. Different brands and styles of vehicle will attract different consumers, and therefore they will require different accommodations to keep them satisfied. The consumer coming in to have their Honda Civic repaired will have different expectations than an individual having their BMW Alpina B7 serviced. Accordingly, these owners will most likely visit two different shops because of the parts and expertise required to properly service the vehicles. With the more mainstream vehicle, expectations will be lower because the expected income of these owners will be lower. These shops will have a tendency to emphasize affordability, leaving little room for superfluous features like an aesthetically appealing store or state-of-the-art machinery. Repair shops for luxury vehicles are typically left to dealerships that boast modern interiors, posh appearances, and all possible amenities because the vehicle owners are expecting these luxuries. Is that to say that the run-of-the-mill shop would not benefit from upgrading their stores? No, but it would be difficult to make those improvements while operating on a rather restrictive budget. Additionally, these shops would probably have superior returns from improvements to service than to the environment itself. So the course of action the business should make depends upon the clientele that they are catering to. The business would benefit from aesthetical improvements regardless of the clientele, but the value added to the customer would vary depending on the customer.

      • Sorry about not being clearer. I guess you can say I’m referring to the auto shops that you find outside of the dealership, like the independent locations. I’m not talking about the Pep Boys or the Tireworks that have corporate standards. But I understand what you’re talking about. People have different standards so auto shops need to make improvements that fit their customers. But won’t making one improvement over another, like a new lobby versus new equipment, alienate certain customers?

        • This truly boils down to the very nature and cost of doing business. Yes, you are correct in assuming that some customers will be alienated by changes or lack thereof. However, just as you cannot please everyone in a room, you cannot make changes that all of your customers will approve of. The goal of the business is to make changes that best suit your customer base, and for the independent automotive repair shops that you are focused on typically that means improving equipment, reducing costs, hiring additional mechanics, etc. to make the actual service side of the business more efficient. Peripheral features such as the lobby will not have as great of an influence upon the customer base as would, say, a new brake lathe that will machine rotors faster or be more precise when lathing the metal. So there is a level of consideration that must be applied before making business decisions, and usually the most influential factor is how much of an impact it will have on what amount of the customer base.

          • You’re half right. People want the best equipment when someone is working on their car. What’s a nice, new lobby to a shop with dated tire machines and pneumatic lifts? No matter who it is or what car they’re driving, people want the job done well, and better equipment does that.

    • Those are the best places for a real honest mechanic though! I love my mechanic and we are good friends. 🙂 Sure, the place could use a little work, but you won’t get the same relationship with a dealership. For something like my car, I think the person is way more important than the store, so who cares about a fancy lobby if the mechanic is mean! 🙁 I think you’ll like the place more if the people are nice since you can bond with a person, not a chair or tv. It’s all about that customer relationship!

      • Well what if your mechanic was a saint but couldn’t fix your car like he said? How about if the only other mechanic was mean but could get the job done properly faster than the nice mechanic? Nice doesn’t mean anything if they can’t get their jobs done.