Vantage Point: Negating Intimidation

Jan. 1, 2020
It pains me to say this, but one of my best general repair maintenance and service experiences was provided by a new car dealership. Before you cry hypocrisy, let me be clear that this was 25 years ago, so please cut me some slack. Anyway, it started

It pains me to say this, but one of my best general repair maintenance and service experiences was provided by a new car dealership. Before you cry hypocrisy, let me be clear that this was 25 years ago, so please cut me some slack. Anyway, it started when I went shopping for a new Chrysler. Not only did the dealership sell me a car but it sold me by selling its service capabilities.

Here's what transpired. As with any car dealership I've ever been in, a salesman swooped down on me as I entered the place. But rather than start a conversation about what kind of vehicle I was looking for, he did something that has never happened again when I've shopped for a car –– he said they didn't sell cars. Instead, what he had to sell was the dealership as a whole, and if I would bear with him for a few minutes, he would show me what he meant. Well, I'm sure this probably turned some people off, but being curious, I wanted to see how this would play out.

He asked me to follow him and I did. My guess was that he would take me out to the back lot and show me some of the specials, i.e., slow movers that had some hidden salesman incentives. To my surprise, he took me straight to the service bays and introduced me to the facility's service manager, who assured me that if I bought a vehicle there, he would be personally responsible for my happiness. He then gave me a rundown of all of the technicians' certifications and how long each had been there. He said once I had picked out my vehicle, the salesman would bring me back so I could meet the technician who would be assigned to my car.

Well, I met "my" technician, and his interest in my service needs convinced me to buy the car.

Each time I brought my car in for service, whether it was routine or problem-related, the service manager walked me to my technician's bay and had me explain to the technician the service I needed. The technician then conferred with the service advisor and presented me with a written estimate. When the technician completed the service work, he invited me back to the bay and showed me exactly what he did. He was so thorough that I rarely had a question.

This cuts to the heart of the general consumer's dilemma when shopping for car service. Bob Arlotta, NAPA Technician of the Year, says, "Some customers are afraid to ask questions because they feel intimidated by technicians. But it's your right as a customer to ask as many questions as you want. Any car care center not willing to answer your questions is probably not a good choice for your vehicle maintenance needs."

I certainly agree with that, but I would take that a step further and say that service providers already know what the questions are and they should answer them before they are asked. Otherwise, you put the customer in the position of being "on guard" rather than "at ease."

No, the technician that I had at the car dealership didn't become a personal friend, but I trusted him completely. The treatment I received took a little more time, but in the long run it saved both the dealer and me time, and assured that I would keep coming back.

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