Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Wow Your Auto Shop Customers

Every business strives to fully satisfy its customers due to understanding the number one rule of marketing: loyal customers are the ones who keep our doors open. For loyal customers, there’s no longer an acquisition cost, happy customers promote your business to others, but there are costs to maintain them long-term. Considering the number of businesses that closed in the last two years since Covid has hit, it shows how many didn’t get with the times and flourish, and it ultimately led to only the strong surviving. Those that remained open understood that excelling at keeping their customers happy was priority number one and adapting to outside-the-box ideas was critical, including what other industries were doing right.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to wow your customers, grow your business and increase profits in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

Look Beyond Your Backyard

It should be no surprise that our competition in satisfying customers is other automotive shops and any business our customer’s visit. We can compare how well we perform against the last place that impressed our customers to a high degree. That could be a hotel, restaurant, dentist—anyone. If your perception of doing well at satisfying customers stops at a 5-star Google review, or a smile directed at the customer before they leave your business, we have work to do!

Think of the feelings that get stirred when we see a neighbor shoveling another’s driveway, DoorDash drivers abiding by specific instructions during Covid when it comes to immune-compromised individuals, or police officers who intervene in a problem off-duty. These are examples of going the extra mile. These are feelings you want customers to associate with your business.

We may take advantage of or don’t fully absorb the “above and beyond” items employees of other industries do for us, but our owner antennae need to always be on so if something wows us, we can replicate it. Therefore, it is imperative to be aware of top-notch customer service you haven’t seen before and then figure out how to implement that practice in your business. Let’s look at a few examples.

Consider What’s Working and Why

I’ve ridden in quite a few Ubers, and there’s a clear difference in each driver’s personality, the vehicle they’re driving, and how they drive. My experience ranges from a vehicle with a bad wheel bearing and music blaring to drivers with candy in door pockets, readily available water bottles, and other conveniences. What’s to say we can’t mimic this example? If we have a shuttle vehicle, how great would it be to have a cooler with water bottles, an assortment of sweets, or anything else that would put our customers at ease? You can take it even further in this example by giving your driver his own business card to hand out and, while you’re at it, have your advisors and management cards in an arrangement in the vehicle.

Picture a dentist’s office that curtails to kids. They don’t have toys, board games, and a TV stuck on a kid’s show because they want to hear reruns of Blues Clues all day. They do it for the convenience of who’s sitting in their waiting room. What can we improve in our waiting areas to ramp up a positive experience in our customer’s eyes? An arcade game for kids to play? Family-oriented movies playing on a TV? How about a simple facelift? If folks are apprehensive of what quality hotels they stay at and, especially during Covid, if they should lay their head on a supplied pillow, are the beaten-up chairs or sofa in our waiting room looked at any differently? How about the damaged wall and marked-up paint? These aren’t examples of above and beyond, but they’re a good starting point for improvement, especially if it puts a new customer’s anxiety of visiting us at ease.

Go the Extra Mile

Ever since Amazon took over the consumer market, they showed us the number one priority of the buying public is convenience. It’s nice not to drive to a store and pick up a toothbrush and batteries; have it delivered! So what can we do to make things more convenient for our customers? How about getting in touch with a local car wash, working out a good deal, and getting every vehicle cleaned before pickup. We can incorporate the costs into our repair invoices and impress a new or loyal customer with a service they didn’t know we provided. Top-off gas? Have charging stations for EV vehicles on-site? What about something not related to the car? After all, it’s the person that you’re servicing, not the car. You could include a DoorDash/Grubhub setup where you encourage customers to “order in,” or if you’re part of a shopping center, prearrange haircuts, or nail services. The possibilities are endless.

Look at the Best To Be the Best

To separate ourselves from our competition, we must know what we’re up against. When’s the last time you visited a competitor and played the decoy? There are so many things you would learn from this. How they operate, how their shop and staff appear, what are they saying, and what are they offering? Go on big company websites known for excellent customer service and look at their value statements. Maybe visit a Hilton hotel, Trader Joe’s, or Costco. To be the best, you have to know what the current best is doing. Don’t think the phone charging station you installed six years ago that is discolored and leaning over is good enough. We have to change with the times.

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on how to effectively wow your customers and grow your business, check out our shop owner events at

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Koole Bolina is a Performance Coach at ATI and has been in the automotive industry since 1998. Starting with a personal interest in automotive repairs, he continues to be part of car clubs, drag racing and keeping up with industry trends. Koole loves to positively influence those who want to do better, be better. If the industry we happen to do business in is the automotive field, that makes it all the better.