Auto Shop Coaching Blog

We Must Treat Others Better

‘Isms come in many forms: racism, ageism, sexism — all communicating bias or discrimination to the group of people each ‘ism targets. I am sharing an example of racism and discrimination I witnessed.

Situation Observed

A manager huffed and puffed upon hearing the name of a customer while an associate was confirming a reservation over the phone.  When the reservation was completed, the manager huffed and puffed and shouted to the sales associate “why did you do that?” The comment, “they never buy anything, always want discounts, and are always rushing us” was said out loud and others in the area heard the comment. I could not believe what I was hearing.

Then the customer arrived. The sales associate was creating the ticket for servicing when another customer walked in (without a reservation). The manager created a ticket for the new walk-in customer at the same time. They both finished completing their tickets about the same time and the manager quickly grabbed the technician and said, “be sure to get this one in first” — even though the sales associate’s customer had a reservation and was there first.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Looking for ways to excel at customer service and grow your business? Get tips for how to implement best practices, improve processes, and increase profits in ATI’s latest non-member webinar.

Action Occurred 

The customer knew what was going on, and so did everyone around the area who heard the comments from the manager. This was something to watch; body language was screaming from staff and from customers “this is an inappropriate situation.” There is no right way to say, “you don’t treat people/customers that way.”

How unfortunate for the business as well; the customer who came in with no reservation said no to everything suggested while the customer who the sales associate handled properly and with great care, and who the manager did not like, purchased the repair and the maintenance items suggested. Their behavior as a waiting customer was very polite and their experience was managed well by the sales associate. Loyal customer developed — well, I don’t know. Maybe the sales associate was able to recover enough for the customer to want to return. Time will tell.

Resource and Possible Solution

In the ATI book club, we read Terre Short’s book, The Words We Choose. One chapter deals with how we select incorrect words and phrases that communicate biases and ‘isms. These ‘isms discriminate against people we interact with in conversations and demonstrate no thought to how others around us will receive the words. Think and pause; it’s best to collect your thoughts before you speak. Keep the other person in mind always and how they will perceive what you are saying to them.


It is difficult to work with someone who is belittling others and holds others in such low regard. Part of our responsibility as co-workers and human beings is to take notice of a wrong you observe and privately work to share the feedback with said person on a better and more effective way of behaving and communicating with words that are not discriminatory or an “ism.” Learn to embrace diversity. Keep an open mind that all interactions are opportunities not yet revealed for so many different actions to occur.

The possibilities of creating friendships, loyal customers, and closing sales are there. We must learn not to make the interactions about “us.” They are about the other person. The better active listener you are the more rapport and trust you will develop and the more relationships you will garner every day.

Learn to breathe and practice the pause before blurting out your first thoughts; they may be reactive. Always work to respond intelligently and look forward to building a partnership where the other person will be better for it when they leave an interaction with you.

Learn how coaching, training, and development will assist you on your journey as an owner, manager, and leader. Join one of our shop owner events to get started.

Print Friendly
Related Articles:
LeAnne is an Executive Coach at ATI and has been coaching since 2003. LeAnne loves assisting others in the achievement of their personal and business goals. She helps people find the goals and dreams they really what and aids in structuring and implementing a plan to achieve those goals and dreams.