It’s All About Relationships

January 2019 | By | Reply More

No, not those relationships...

When you see that headline you probably immediately think of relationships with your customers. Or maybe your employees. Surely both groups are critically important to your business success.

But there's another group of people and businesses that you should think about often, and most likely do not due to the pressing matters of day-to-day work, along with mini- and maxi-problems that need your attention as an owner/manager.

But think for a moment about all of those people and businesses you call on when you-know-what hits the fan. You know what we mean. The stud that breaks off below flush in an aluminum head or block that is inaccessible to your thread repair kit. The suddenly-discovered radiator or heater core leak on a less-than-common model for which no new replacement is readily available. The head gasket replacement that reveals a badly burned valve you weren't expecting. The broken air conditioning bracket that's only available from the dealer and is back-ordered until who-knows when. The air bag code that just won't clear despite your best electronics guy following every step in the manual. 

The list goes on and on. There's the thrust-angle alignment job that reveals a bent alloy rim. The aftermarket performance exhaust system that "just ain't fittin'," Your technician who jumps into a customer's car with a screwdriver in his back pocket. Or the front chin spoiler or rear wing you're installing that the customer suddenly decides he wants body color instead of matte black.

What do all of these situations have in common?

In most cases, they'll require you to reach out to a specialist to save your butt. Instantly. Professionally. Without whining...

Readers of this esteemed publication range in size from mini to maxi, and may have as few as a couple technicians or as many as a dozen or two, or even more. Most certainly they're all talented, or they wouldn't be working for you. And, most likely, each will have an area of special interest and expertise, skills that serve you well in the day-to-day service of your customers and their precious vehicles.

But do your employees have specialty skills, like making or repairing upholstery? Welding exotic metals? Tailpipe bending? Dent/scratch repair or touch-up painting? Radiator pressure testing and repair? Performing a valve job on a cylinder head? 

And is your shop equipped with the tools to do wheel/rim straightening? Machine shop work? Repair of odd-ball threads in an expensive and not-too-easy to replace component?

Maybe yes, but in all too many cases probably not.

So this is when you call on a specialist to bail you out. And fortunately most shop owners and managers have a network of such specialists to call on. 

But here's the rub: In almost every instance, the need for such a specialist is sudden and unanticipated. So you call your buddy at the machine shop, or the radiator shop, or the upholstery shop, or the body shop, or the guy with the mobile diagnostic van. And you sweet-talk him into putting aside whatever else he's working on and make your rush job more important than all the other rush jobs he's working on. You might even ask him to pick up and deliver your rush job.

And in most cases they'll accommodate your needs, although they may be muttering un-sweet words after they hang up the phone. "Geez. These guys only call me when they need a favor!"

So what's the point?

The point is to put the lie to his un-sweet thinking. 

Plan ahead. In many cases you can anticipate those jobs that may end up requiring the services of a specialist. So don't wait for a Friday morning to have your technician pull the cylinder head for a gasket replacement. Have him pull it off earlier in the week. If shop space and scheduling allow, have him pull it apart earlier in the week and then put out hotter fires, with reassembly later in the week. You may have to wait for parts anyway, so why not give "your guy" the extra time to work his magic?

Similarly, if you have a job come in that may require special attention, at the very least give your guy a call and a heads-up that you may need his help in a couple of days. You'd appreciate the advance notice, and so will he.

Give him some non-rush jobs. You know you'll have some. And you know there will be times when a customer will be away on a business or pleasure trip and will tell you there's no rush to get his or her car done. This way "your guy" will not suffer dread each time your number comes up on his Caller I.D.

Pay him a little extra sometimes. Yep. Pay him extra sometimes. "I know you busted your tail for us on short notice, so here's an extra ten, or twenty, or more..." Such kindnesses will pay dividends in the long run.

Refer other business to him. When you do, be sure to have the person tell him, "Joe from Import Repair told me to call you. He says you're the best!" Surely in your circle of friends and acquaintances there are folks in non-competitive positions who could benefit from such an introduction to a capable service provider.

Provide favorable feedback on the person's/shop's Facebook page or web site. You can do so without revealing your identity ("Joe M."...), and the number of "Likes" your guy gets will help him without hurting you.

Everybody appreciates being appreciated. Even you. You know how you feel when folks say nice things about you and your shop. So return the favor, even before the favor is afforded.

Your guy will be grateful. And you'll both reap the rewards...

Category: derFix, derFix Business

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