By Elvis L. Hoffpauir, MACS President and COO
If you’re trying to increase your market share through “specials” that really aren’t special, selling your customers parts and service they don’t need, or doing anything else that further erodes consumer confidence in our already much maligned service segment, you’re really only damaging your own reputation and business and those of everyone else in this industry.
A recent segment on ABC Evening News suggested that manufacturers’ claims of “new and improved” were sometimes just euphemistic code for “smaller and more expensive.” At least some manufacturers, it seems, have chosen to counter consumer resistance to higher prices by providing less product at the same price. Due to this segment and others like it, those manufacturers have likely suffered some erosion in brand loyalty and consumer trust.
While consumers may not like it, they can understand that costs go up and someone has to pay. They are less forgiving of deception and lies.
Speaking from experience, over the years I’ve paid some substantial invoices for car repair, but even a budget-stretching invoice would not sour me on a shop if I was convinced I was being treated fairly and the repair necessary and well done. On the other hand, I’ve written off service establishments that never collected a dime from me if I perceived that they were trying to “take me for a ride.” Whether my experience was good or bad, I made a point of sharing that information with my friends and associates.
Personal referrals and “word of mouth” advertising have built many good businesses over the years, but today’s high-speed information highway, turbo-charged with an ever growing number of social media channels, has raised the stakes to a whole new level.
Like it or not, today everyone is a critic and a publisher. Hopefully, if you’re running a good, competent business with integrity, most on-line posts about your business will be positive. But it’s just as likely there will be a few negative comments floating around out there, perhaps triggered by nothing more than miscommunication, an unintended but perceived slight, or simply a result of one of your customers having a bad day in general and taking it out on you.
You might want to make it a point to see what customers actually have posted on-line about your business, or of other similar businesses. It could provide you with invaluable insight on what potential customers really want in terms of service, as well as what really turns them away so you can avoid those negatives.
Today, more than ever, your customers and prospective customers have a high consumer IQ. Automotive service continues to rank in or near the Top Ten of Better Business Bureau complaints. Your customers are checking on-line and comparing notes.
It’s more important than ever that you “do not harm” to your reputation and that of the industry.
The Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s blog has been honored as the best business to business blog in the Automotive Aftermarket by the Automotive Communications Awards and the Car Care Council Women’s Board!
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 33rd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Be the Best of the Best will take place February 7-9, 2013 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.