Vehicles enter the shop. Some customers require routine maintenance. Some customers complain about driveability issues. The brakes squeal. They hear a clicking noise on turns. The engine cranks but won’t start. The tires are wearing out fast. The car pulls to the left under braking. The engine is leaking oil. The list goes on.
You perform a visual check. You spend time diagnosing an issue. You break out your expensive diagnostic tools and follow procedures. You record and diagnose DTCs. You re-flash the PCM. You skin your knuckles and sprain your back working on the suspension. The hair on your head gets loaded with dirt, grit and grease from the car’s belly. You dig your hands into incredibly tight spaces to access a bolt.
You determine the problem and repair it only as a result of your expertise, skill and hard work. The customer arrives, pays the bill and cruises off into the sunset. They may complain, to you or just to themselves, about the money they spent, but they’re happy as a lark that the vehicle runs great now. You’ve done your job, satisfied in the fact that you accomplished something, and you move on to the next problem vehicle.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, just once in a while, the customer shakes your hand and says “Thank you for your hard work... you did a great job, and I appreciate it”? Yes, they paid for the parts and labor, and they’re not obligated to go any further, but being recognized for your skill and efforts would be icing on the cake.
My wife leases a new Kia Soul. About 1,000 miles after we picked it up, the tranny began to act up. After accelerating from a dead stop, the trans would intermittently lag, followed by a loud and forceful “bang” as though the car had been hit in the rear. Since it’s under warranty, she brought it back to the dealer. Naturally, the problem would not occur while in their possession.
The vehicle was brought back to the dealer on numerous occasions, often with the service department keeping it for several days in hopes that they could experience the issue. And, naturally, the little Kia acted just fine while in their possession. As soon as she picked it up, it lagged and banged again.
I wasn’t angry with the dealership, knowing that they couldn’t perform any warranty work unless they had proof that a fix was required. The service manager kept apologizing for the inconvenience during the entire episode and made it clear that he didn’t want us to continue to be inconvenienced. I kept reassuring him that I understood. Finally, after the fourth go-around, the service manager said they heard a “funny” noise while using a stethoscope, and put in a claim for a trans replacement. They swapped trannies and the vehicle has operated perfectly ever since.
About a week after my wife picked up the car following the repair, I called the service manager. “Bill, about my wife’s Kia Soul...” you could sense his silent anguish, expecting me to rant and rave about a problem. Instead, I thanked him for the great job and asked if he would convey my gratitude to the technicians for the quality of their work.
To me, this was a simple act of common courtesy, but the service manager was stunned. He told me that they rarely, if ever, have anyone actually go out of their way to say thanks for a job well done. He said that he would convey my thanks to the techs and that they will be thrilled to hear that someone appreciated their hard work.
It then dawned on me that this type of gesture could indeed make such an impact. When a customer expresses their appreciation, savor the moment. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.
Maybe the next time the guy delivering parts comes in, make a special effort to thank him for always being on time. Or the next time you order something and the guy on the other end of the line suggests you might need something else for the repair, you thank him for his thoroughness. Or the next time the rep who repairs your equipment does so quickly, you say thanks — a real and genuine thank you. It can get contagious.
By the way, thank you very much for reading my column! ■
To read more of Mike's editorials, see:
Sign up for a FREE subscription to Auto Service Professional magazineSubscribe