A Customer Centric Auto Body Shop - No Kidding
Imagine you're about to walk into the waiting area of a body shop. What's the first image that comes to mind?
Dirt? Grease? Noise? What waiting area? Some dark, post-apocalyptic movie scene?
Happily there are those in the auto collision repair industry who are awakening to the power and value of putting the customer at the center of their business strategy. There's a revolution starting in the industry and it's having a profound impact for early proponents.
Auto collision repair shops are making these changes based on the principles of Lean Production. I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say that Lean starts with identifying value from the customer perspective and eliminates whenever possible anything that doesn't create value. Customers should also be able to receive value throughout the auto collision repair experience.
Here's a brief case study about the positive impact for car owners.
A former colleague of mine - a finance guy - is one of the most customer focused people I've ever met. (Yes, you read that right, he's a finance guy.)
He became a CFO of a small chain of auto body repair shops. Once he better understood the industry and its not so best practices he realized that there was much to be done to improve his customers' experience with his brand. Over time he was able to make some changes but before long the entrepreneurial bug bit. He and a partner opened a new body shop called Total Care Accident Repair. One of their top strategic priorities was to radically redefine the auto body customer experience.
Many customer experience goals built were built into their business strategy:
- Decrease the amount of time between receiving car keys from a customer and returning them
- Don't have drivable cars sit on their lot waiting for parts
- Schedule repair work in the shortest window possible for the customer
- Provide owners can with insight into repair progress online and also send status updates via text, email or phone
- Give the customer a delivery date and then further refine that the day before or morning of with a specific pick-up time
- Deliver a repaired and CLEAN car. Vacuum and wash each car as a final step for prior to delivery
- Deliver the highest quality work. Engage the work force by giving the responsibility for excellent and efficient work and make them beholden to each other.
- Ensure each car is inspected one last time prior to delivery
- Create a customer-friendly environment, one that is clean, sunny, in a nice area with plenty of parking and a warm, friendly, professional staff to greet customers and set expectations
The value to the customer here is obvious. There are multiple engaged professionals committed to delivering great work for the customer (and each other) and doing so as efficiently as possible.
Is it working? Absolutely.
- 99.1% of customers would use the shop again or refer it to a friend.
- Courteousness of Staff ... 4.98 out of 5 (excellent)
- Explanation of Repair by Staff ... 4.89 out of 5
- Quality of Repair ... 4.95 out of 5
- Cleanliness of Car After Repair ... 4.92 out of 5
This approach to auto body repair is a triple win:
- The shop is financially on very solid ground. They are more efficient, have reduced capital costs, increased employee retention and engagement and a very satisfied customer base.
- The customers have a highly valued experience, one that makes the best out of a bad situation. They get their car back ASAP, with the work done properly and don't get grease on their clothes.
- Insurers and car dealerships add value to their customers by partnering with a repair shop that delivers a great customer experience on their behalf.
All of this is great, but you know what really sold me on this new customer centric auto body repair model?
Total Care Accident Repair's facility features a spacious, window-filled store front with comfortable seating, coffee and tea, WiFi and absolutely zero risk of getting a grease stain on your person. No post-apocalyptic movie images anywhere.
Note: I have no financial interest in Total Care Accident Repair and have not had a car repaired there. I did meet with the owners, have toured the shop and reviewed customer feedback data.