If you’re an auto repair shop owner/operator, you’re probably focused on managing your business. And while you have your head down working hard, you might not glance up often enough to see your waiting room through your customers’ eyes.
The last time we had our car worked on, we went to a local shop, which has a small waiting room, and, rather than bury our heads in a smartphone, we took a moment to look around. There wasn’t much we could do to stay occupied, and we were wishing for some interesting reading materials.
Here are a few ideas for items to include in your auto-repair business’ waiting room:
Car Care Guides: these 80-page vehicle-maintenance guides are provided at less than $1 per guide, and it explains vehicle maintenance tips in plain language for the everyday driver. The low cost means you can probably afford to give one to every customer, and it will also help you and your technicians to explain complex systems without the automotive jargon you use everyday. Order them in packs of 20 here. Worth noting: the Car Care Council also provides free downloads, so send links to the report within your customer emails.
Show life beyond the garage: here, some pics from the Openbay team’s travels.
Around the Halls: if your employees are central to your business’ success, take a photo of each one, and do monthly (or quarterly) quick interviews that will help to humanize your business. It gives your customers an excuse to connect on another level, and to appreciate your team members beyond the walls of your garage.
Here are a few topic ideas for your employee wall-of-fame –
- What’s your favorite car scene in a movie?
- What’s the best road trip you ever took?
- Describe your first car?
- What’s your dream car?
- What do you like best about working here?
As an alternative, consider interviewing your best customers. Why do they frequent your business? What have you done for them they they aren’t able to get elsewhere? While your other new customer is waiting for her 100,000-mile vehicle inspection, reading about how much others love you might reinforce her decision to return.
Articles About Car Repair: want to help your customers to understand what’s going on under their hoods? Need a hand explaining why replacing worn items is important, or do you just want your customers to leave your business better informed than they had arrived? Here are a few Openbay blogs worth printing. Each one was written for by Mike Allen, ASE-certified mechanic and longtime auto editor at Popular Mechanics –
Magazines: We’re used to seeing a pile of car magazines in auto repair shops. They’re great, but it’s wise to ensure your collection of ‘buff books’ is complemented by other, less auto-enthusiast-focused reading materials. Just because your customers are visiting for car repairs doesn’t mean they love cars. Consider adding popular titles like Inc, The Week, Vanity Fair or National Geographic that might appeal to a broader audience. When you’re finished with them, pass them along to a local gym, retirement community or doctor’s office; leave your address sticker on and who knows – maybe an appreciative reader might become a new customer.
Wi-fi: Despite our focus on non-electronic reading materials, this one’s most important. If you don’t have wi-fi, while you’re working hard, odds are your customers aren’t. Providing free wi-fi will give you a competitive advantage over other shops, and that’s an amenity frequently requested by Openbay users. Offering free wi-fi to your customers ensures they can keep up back at the office, or get their other personal errands done while they wait. Be sure to post the network’s name and password in a photo frame so your customers don’t have to ask for it. If you’re feeling creative, name your network something fun.
Best of luck keeping your customers occupied while you work. If you have any other tips for repair-shop success, or would like to suggest a topic, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.