Auto Shop Coaching Blog

What Customer Service Should Look Like in Your Shop

One of my members owns a very successful shop on the west coast. Despite COVID restrictions, wildfires, and being in a fairly small city, his shop thrives. His car count has stayed strong, his technicians have stayed productive, and sales are up almost 40% compared to 2019. I asked this shop owner for his insight on why he feels this occurred. I wasn’t surprised by his answers because it is what we teach our ATI members every day.

If you can embrace these tips and implement them in your shop, there’s no reason you can’t see the same kind of dramatic increases for 2021.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to increase your bottom-line and grow your business in ATI’s shop owner events. Register for a shop owner event at

1. Hire Customer-Centric Staff and Fire Fast if They’re Not

In mid-2018, this shop owner hired a general manager to take over daily operations of the business so the owner could step away and pursue other interests including traveling. Within 18 months the general manager had almost destroyed the shop’s reputation in the community, morale within the shop was at an all-time low, and sales plummeted. The owner came home to a disaster – and promptly fired the manager. The team he now has in place is engaged, productive, and looks forward to being there – but it took the owner stepping back into the shop full time and making staffing changes to get there.

Take the time to develop a good interview and evaluation process, and let people go quickly when they are not a good fit.

2. The Customer Is the Reason You Exist, So Treat Them Like They Are the Only One

Every time their service advisor is talking to a customer on the phone or in person, everything else stops. Someone else answers the phone and takes a message. Someone else greets people coming into the waiting room and invites them to take a seat, get a cup of coffee, and lets them know the advisor will be with them soon. They don’t rush explaining the recommendations and they “shut up” so customers can ask questions.

Taking the time with each customer to build that relationship and treat them like they are the most important person in that moment works – and it’s proven by their average repair order.

2. Ask for Referrals and Thank People for Them

Good, old fashioned word of mouth still works for this shop and they are diligent in saying thank you. Ask people to refer their friends and family (and yes, that is a verbal ask, not just an email or text message after the visit). I recommend a referral program that gives you the ability to track who is sending you those new customers and thank them — whether it is a simple phone call, thank you card or a gift of some sort. I also recommend sending a thank you card when someone leaves you a review.

These tips aren’t earth-shattering, brand new concepts but they are often the three areas I see shop owners failing to be successful at consistently. Incorporate them into your shop and watch your shop grow in 2021.

At ATI, we help our members develop strong teams and effective strategies to achieve their dreams. Want to learn more? Start by registering for a shop owner event at

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Charlene is an Executive Coach at ATI, a Certified Profit First Professional, a former shop owner, and has been coaching since 2014. Charlene helps clients find the right solutions to their challenges and encourages them to make the changes that result in having the life they dreamed about when they got into business ownership.