I know you’ve all heard of the “WOW” factor or effect, I have too, but I had never before tried to put it into some quantifiable understanding. That’s what this article is about. The “WOW” factor is a REAL phenomenon that too many of us forget about when it comes to our businesses. So, what is the “WOW” factor, and how does it relate to our industry specifically?
Is it greeting your customers at their car door with a smile and handshake?
- Maybe, possibly, could be.
Is it repairing their vehicle completely, correctly, the first time, on time, delivered clean with NO fingerprints and within the last estimate you quoted them?
- NO! That is expected, is exactly what everyone else is doing, and if you’re not, maybe you need to rethink your career choice or business plan. The customer believes this is always going to happen, because if he/she didn’t, they wouldn’t be doing business with you. They would find someone who delivered these essential elements to their Auto Repair experience and go there!
Is it the “Reminder Cards, the Thank You Cards, or the Follow Up Phone Calls?”
- Unfortunately again, it probably is none of these either, as these have become the “norm” or standard in our industry. And if we aren’t already doing these things we are failing, failing our customers and failing our business!
So, what is it? I’ve thought long and hard about a definition as to what the WOW factor is, and although this may not be yours, here is my definition of it; it’s simply an “Emotional Reaction To A Unfamiliar Stimulus”. Think about this statement for a minute, let it sink in, and then see if it fits into the last time you spoke the words, “WOW”.
Although there are certainly different degrees of “WOW”; from your first truly passionate kiss, to watching your son or daughter being born, or maybe (for us older folks) holding your first grandchild. All are variations of things that elicit the misunderstood “WOW” response from us. Ok, so by now you have thought of maybe a few things that brought these words to your mouth, maybe quite a few, maybe not. But what does this have to do with business, especially the automotive business? Let me tell you a story about a recent “WOW” experience I had while visiting one of those “Quickie Oil Change” places that almost everyone in our industry hold somewhere well below the professional level of competence or customer service.
With a trip to Lake Tahoe for an upcoming seminar planned one weekend, I started preparing my vehicle. I washed it, filled it with gas and was driving back home to load when I heard on the news that there could be snow this weekend. Being as my vehicle is a small compact car, I made the decision to instead take my wife’s 4X4 Expedition (bigger, 4X4, more material around us just in case….you understand). I jumped in it to run over to the car wash and gas it up when I noticed the “Change Oil” light illuminated on the dash. Realizing that our local Ford dealer had closed a couple months ago and I didn’t have any shops in the area, I called my wife to see if the light had possibly “just” come on so that I could make the trip first and then schedule the oil change later with one of my clients. “How long has the change oil light been on in your truck?” I cautiously asked (probably anticipating the answer, but hoping I was wrong), “a couple months I think” was the response. So, gritting my teeth I made the decision to go to our local quickie “Oil Change” facility.
What I got when I drove into the drive was a greeting at my door from someone who seemed to just appear out of nowhere. Now, as a individual who has been in this industry all my professional life, as a Technician, Service Advisor, Service Manager, General Manager and now Consultant, I may have had a chip on my shoulder about just being there, maybe even…. a little attitude. But, I decided to make the best of it and go with the flow, at least until something went wrong. To my surprise, nothing ever did, as a matter of fact, they taught me a lesson in customer service and the fact is, if they are all doing this good of a job with customer service, we (the repair side of the industry) could be in trouble! Not only did they walk me to the office while asking me if I had any other concerns that they could address during my oil change, this “greeter” introduced me to the Service Advisor and then disappeared.
As the Service Advisor was already working with a couple of people that were there ahead of me, I decided to sit back and see who these guys were. From my seat in the “spotlessly clean” waiting room I had an unobstructed view of the vehicles being pulled in and worked on. I noticed that the shop floors were spotless; everything had a place and was put there immediately after its use, and the Technicians all looked as professional as any other facility I had ever been in. They had their shirts tucked in, no hats being worn, no pants with holes (worn as designed, around their waste) and they were still clean, even at 4:30 in the afternoon! When the Service Advisor was ready for me he called me up by name (remember we had been introduced earlier) and while turning his computer screen towards me explained the 4 different oil changes they offered. I opted for the synthetic since apparently the oil in this vehicle isn’t changed as often as it should be, and as soon as I did he hit the enter button, which popped a new “Recommended Factory Service Schedule” screen up for my specific mileage. As I stood there amazed at how seamless the process was, then the Advisor simply stated, “I just want to go over all the factory recommendations for your vehicle, at its mileage”. There was NO hard sell, ever, simply just information as to what was recommended. Half way through this process I looked up and noticed that the Technicians were already filling a oil pour bucket with the synthetic oil I requested and were getting ready to refill the motor, I also noticed that another Technician was vacuuming my whole vehicle. “OK, nice touch” I thought.
To be continued in part 2 next month……