Thursday, January 16, 2014

Loyalty and patience

noun: loyalty
the quality of being loyal to someone or something.
"her loyalty to her husband of 34 years"
a strong feeling of support or allegiance.
noun: patience
  1. 1.
    the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
    "you can find bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross"
    synonyms:forbearance, tolerance, restraint, self-restraint, stoicism; More
    calmness, composure, equanimity, imperturbability, phlegm, understanding, indulgence
    "she tried everyone's patience"
    "a task requiring patience"
  2. 2.
    chiefly British term for solitaire (sense 1).

What's wrong BJ? Cracking up a bit? Actually I thought I was but I had the opportunity this past week to talk to a lot of different shop owners. Not technicians, not managers, actual shop owners who see the "big picture" of our industry in our immediate area. January is always a slower month in the automotive repair world since you have holiday bills coming in, property taxes due and generally crappy weather which means less driving. This gave me the chance to bump into some shop owners I know in the area.

First lots of people are wondering "Oh my god, you talk to your competition?" Yes, all the time. See, we all know each other and don't worry about each other. We see each other at trade shows, we may bump into each other at parts stores or sublet different things since each has their own strengths and weaknesses and we know who can do something for a guy in a pinch. This includes dealers.

Sorry, I got sidetracked there. Above are two definitions I wish every single person in this world would review and relearn. The common theme from talking to the shop owners is the two words above. Loyalty in this industry is going away. Customers are becoming to used to a instant everything society and want it now. Hell, even the commercial for money they should already have now screams. "It's my money, and I want it NOW." Good grief. All of us have been seeing loyalty fall to the wayside for faster, cheaper service. Which leads me to patience. Wow, there is non of that these days either. It does take time to repair a car properly, it also takes time to do estimates, juggle other work and wait for parts. Patience means that sometimes you may be second, or third, or god forbid the last car that will get looked at that day. It might even mean when you call for a appointment that you may have to wait a few days to get in.

Where did this originate from? Personally I think the information age has brought it upon us and a little of the change in how the dealer market themselves. You can have a android device, or apple product and basically have your world at your fingertips, instantly. We used to wait for calls back, leave messages. Now we wonder why they aren't answering and if we did something wrong. We used to get our news the next day or in the evening. Now we are blasted instantly (and incorrectly) on a by minute pace. Add in the fact that when you go to a dealer now there is a big door you drive up too, honk and in you go and right to the front you go. That has put a mindset into peoples heads that it should work everywhere. Not everywhere is equipped with the staff and room a dealer has. Most shops have a few hoists, a few techs and a lot of cars to juggle in that schedule. It won't be on a rack right away.

"Oh BJ, your sure a whiny little guy." Maybe, but after talking to most every shop near and far, speaking to them online in tech forums I am hearing the common theme. The customer is wanting it faster, cheaper and right now. Even the dealer service managers I talk to see it as a problem since people expect it done as fast as it took them to drive in. How we react to that is going to vary from shop to shop but the general theme I got from everyone is if they want it that fast it can't be cheap. It they want it cheap it can't be fast. It used to be you could have it three ways "Good, Fast, Cheap" but you needed to pick only two of those options in combination. Good and fast? It won't be cheap. Fast and cheap? It won't be good. Good and cheap? It won't be fast. Now it seems like you are going to pick only one....

Loyalty, patience. Those customers that exhibit it sure get a hell of a deal in our place.