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Changing the Customer Experience

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the November 2015 issue of Transmission Digest.

How "bout them Cowboys !! Man, am I glad it is football season again. I was buying my new Dallas Cowboy fan stuff today when I flashed back to a shop I had in Dallas years ago. This shop was a customer's worst nightmare when I got there. It was neglected and losing money. Most of the lighting did not work, there were holes in the customer waiting area wall, trash was everywhere, dirty windows, the bathrooms didn't work, floors had not been cleaned in months, there were no shop rules and no pride in workmanship. One out of three customers was a warranty customer. Many had been back multiple times. The techs were incompetent and lazy. The shops bad habits were sucking the life and profits out of it and I was there to change the story.

The first thing I did was go to the local flea market and buy pictures of the Dallas Cowboy players and hang them all over the shop. Just as a diversion to get the customers mind off of killing me, you know ? I was the quarterback so I put a picture of the Cowboys quarterback at the time, Troy Aikman, behind my desk and sat customers in front of my desk so that they could see the 4x5 picture of Troy right over my shoulder. We built a couple of chairs for the customers to sit in when I was selling to them that looked like electric chairs. We always had a laugh when I would tell the customer to come into my office and have a seat.

I had some real comfortable cowboy chairs out in the customer waiting area and a TV with old cowboy games playing on a VCR 24/7. Cowboy rugs to walk on. Cowboy flag on the flagpole out front. Cowboy candy for the kids. I painted 4 foot tall letters along the back wall, inside the shop, that spelled out Cowboys. I had everything a Cowboy fan would expect there. I was setting the stage to change the story. Now days they call it, changing the customer experience .

The Cowboys are America's team. Everyone loves the Cowboys in Dallas and when I say everyone , I mean everyone. So setting up this football fan atmosphere was a good start. Next , I gave the warranty customers top priority. I hired a new professional staff, put some uniforms on them and started fixing the customer's vehicle instead of just working on them. The final change was to clean the place up and make it a shop that a customer would want to come to and feel safe about leaving his vehicle there for repairs. That was the formula for that shop.

Over the next few weeks, I watched the shop come back to life. The customer experience was like day and night. The nightmare cars got fixed. The warranty rate went back to normal. The repairs were quality repairs that lasted and the customer confidence level was restored. Bottom line, the customers were happy and shop moral was high. We were having fun again.

The manager experience changed too. Instead of customers yelling at me, we started talking about football mostly and the shop started making money again. Let's not overlook the fact that changing the customer experience can also be very profitable. I found that our customers didn't really want to talk about the repair that much. That was boring What they did want to talk about was their team. So , I would make the service recommendation short and sweet so we could get that behind us and start talking about them 'Boys again. For the most part, customers were willing to pay what I asked because they trusted us and we had financing. We made the customer feel comfortable there. That was the goal. I felt comfortable there too. We were all Cowboy fans. I made a lot of friends that loved the Cowboys there and...a lot of money..

Maybe your shop could use a little attitude adjustment. Don't be afraid to change the story at your shop. You owe it to your customers. You might start thinking about what experience you would like to have if you came into your own shop then, make it a reality. Start by taking those boring pictures of transmissions down, use your imagination a little bit and make your shop a really cool experience for your customers and yourself. But hey, enough about business. How "bout them Cowboys !!

Art Little is the founder of TransTeam, a management support company that provides transmission shop owners with employees, training and leads.

The popular TransTeam website has served as the National Employment Headquarters for the transmission industry since 1997. Online training and certification testing, for transmission shop center managers, is also available at the site and the Nationwide TransTeam Wholesale Club is generating low cost internet leads for TransTeam shop owner members nationwide now. If you need help with recruiting employees, training or lead generation visit the TransTeam.com website or call Art @ 888-859-0994.

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Transmission Shop Owners ! This month only, sign up for free online training at the website.

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