Shop Life

A Case for Education

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Roughly a year and a half ago, I was driving my 2005 Honda Civic (super cool; I know) down a residential street when an SUV pulled out of an alleyway and hit my car on the front driver’s side. I was fine, thankfully, and, at first, it seemed like my car was, too. Just some minor damage; in fact, my insurance carrier told me that my vehicle even qualified for a photo estimate because the damage seemed so minor.

Sweet! Saves me quite a bit of hassle and back and forth, right?

Well, that positivity quickly evaporated when an appraiser called two days later and told me, “Yeah … your car’s totaled.”

As collision repairers, you probably saw that ending coming. And, thanks to my work, I knew about the limitations of photo estimates and wasn’t all that surprised myself.

But still, it was awful. I had a whiplash injury that was sending me to the chiropractor three times per week and now I had to find a new car, too? No one told me that was a possibility!

Needless to say, it made an already inconvenient situation far more annoying (and expensive)—and it didn’t make for a great customer service experience. I even switched insurance carriers after it was all wrapped up because I was so irritated.

Of course, situations like what happened with my vehicle aren’t uncommon. It’s actually the focus of this month’s feature story, “A PSA to Customers." As associate editor Kelly Beaton writes, vehicles have changed rapidly in recent years—as has the collision repair process, by default. But for the average consumer, who only gets in an accident every seven years, that’s a pretty big gap in time. It’s no wonder there’s a huge lack of knowledge about the collision repair process among drivers.

That’s where you come in. As shop owners, you’re in the fortunate position of being able to close that gap and serve as a resource to customers. I can tell you from experience I would’ve been eternally grateful to have someone in my corner post-accident, offering guidance and explaining the various steps in the process.

Even with the increase in technology, customers still crave personal interaction and, perhaps more importantly, want to feel good about their decisions. Education and even simply taking the time to talk with customers goes a long way, and can earn you customers for life. There’s no one who knows this business more thoroughly than you do, so who better to act as the expert to customers?


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