A little humor can go a long way in turning an auto repair experience into a pleasurable one for customers
Editor’s note: Paul E. Grech owned the former San Franciso shop, Allied Engine & Auto Repair, before retiring. In this column series, Grech shares his experiences as a shop owner.
I have written before about using humor in dealing with customers. You want customers to leave with a good feeling about you and your business and getting the endorphins flowing through their brain.
Here’s one time I used humor to win over a customer for a service recommendation: A woman customer came wanting a tune up for her vehicle. This was about the third time she had come in for service. I asked her if there was any specific problem she concerned about.
She said, “No, it just seems a little sluggish.”
I said, “Would anemic better describe your concern”?
I road tested the vehicle with her in the car. I told her that it seems to run smooth but it lacks a little power. I suggested that a fuel injection flush be done to restore the engine performance. She looked puzzled at my suggestion.
I explained what happens to a modern fuel-injected car after high mileage occurs. I told her that the injector inlet screen can get restricted and not allow the proper amount of fuel to be injected into the engine.
I could tell by the look on her face that she either didn’t understand what I was saying or felt I was just trying to sell her something. So I told her I could tell she had doubts about my recommendation.
“I could possibly offer you a money-back offer if you don’t feel any difference in your cars performance. But I won’t do that, though I will tell you this. If you step on the gas pedal the same amount after I flush the fuel injection system as you did before, you are going to get a ticket.”
A big smile appeared on her face and she took my recommendation. She came back after she had picked up the car and said what a difference and thanked me for my advice. She became a regular customer after that. I have used this technique for many years and have won many a customer’s confidence just by making them feel good with a little humor.
Not every one can do this, but it works. The customer also starts to associate an auto repair experience as a pleasurable experience and they have no hesitation about recommending you to their friends.
I retired about four years ago and joined a Thunderbird owners club. I was at a club event and this same woman was there, a fellow member. She recognized my wife and I and immediately broke out with a big smile. She commented about all the good times she had at Allied Engine getting her car serviced.
I also found that a little humor will get better you service wherever you go. For instance, when I go out to dinner and the waitress asks if I would like a glass of wine with dinner, I reply, “Only if you ask me for my ID.”
The other day I went to get a haircut in a little barber shop I always pass by in my little town where I live. I decided to try it out. The lady barber asks the usual question, “How do you want it cut?”
I gave her my usual response, “Make me look like a movie star!” She asked, which one?
“A cross between Marlon Brando and a buffed Danny DeVito.”