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Value in a children’s play area?

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"How much value is there in adding a children’s play area within my collision repair facility?"

Frank Schiro, vice president of Schiro’s Collision Repairs in Chatsworth, Calif.

We went through a remodeling process when we acquired our shop in 2002. We wanted to create a unique, state-of-the-art facility that was highly customer-oriented. Since many parents bring their children to the shop, we decided that adding a children’s play area would be one way to accomplish that.

The children’s area is a 120-square-foot room inside of the customer care department. It’s clearly marked as a children’s room with carpet and colorful murals painted on the walls. The room includes several items geared toward children who are 8 years old and younger, such as toys, arts and crafts, cars, a chalkboard and a small worktable. The investment to outfit the room was not very large, as every item was purchased inexpensively at a local toy store.

Having a children’s area has proven to be highly beneficial in improving the image of the shop. That’s the biggest benefit. It sends a very clear and immediate message to customers that they are important and that we care about them. Our customers perceive the shop as a very professional and customer-friendly organization. That positive perception is created even among customers who don’t have children.

We’ve heard a lot of positive comments about that over the years. To maintain that image, however, you have to make sure the room is maintained and that toys are kept clean.

On a more practical level, the strategy allows parents to attentively attend to their auto body repair needs while their children are occupied in the play area. That allows time for shop staff to speak with parents about repairs without distractions.

This is a perfect strategy for shops that want to elevate their level of service. This is a really nice touch if you want to be viewed as a high-end facility. 

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