So we know you’re all a lovely, friendly, personable, and above all, trustworthy bunch, but do your customers?

As much as we may think that our businesses are approachable, open and honest, and as unfair as it may be, the Arthur Daly image remains and a high proportion of customers are absolutely convinced they will be ripped off as soon as they take their car in for a service or repair.

Consequently, increasing numbers of workshops are now making use of video to create an open and transparent environment in which to do business. Effectively, the technician films the work required and emails it to the customer so they can see the worn down tyres for themselves, for example. In an interesting move by Volvo, the manufacturer has created a new retail concept which it is gradually rolling out to its network. It includes the opportunity to meet the technician working on the customer’s car who will even show them the work which needs undertaking when the car is on the ramp. The brand is trying to build trust and sees the technician customer interaction as enabling them to build the kind of relationship more associated with the friendly local garage. That’s you, folks.

But before you rest on your laurels, heed the warnings from a recent RAC Garage Compare survey of 1,400 customers who utilised independent garages. A staggering 60% of motorists said they have endured a bad experience when it comes to car repairs, servicing or MOT, according to the survey. More than one in 10 (11%) say they don’t trust garages at all. Other figures make for depressing reading, such as 38% of motorists said their garage failed to fix a problem and 36% thought they had been overcharged whilst almost one in four (24%) said they were concerned about hidden costs following a service or MOT.

On the plus side, the survey found, once a motorist finds a garage they can trust to provide a good service, they remain fiercely loyal, 55% said they totally trust the local garage they use most often.

Interestingly and despite those who felt they had paid too much, cost is not the most important factor when choosing a garage. Reliability topped the list with 56% saying this mattered most whilst customer service came next with 19% and cost took third place with just 14% saying this was the most important factor.

In the main, you are probably on the right track, especially with the likes of Volvo attempting to emanate the kind of service and experience it believes is commonplace in most local garages. Keep up the good work and if your mechanics are mostly in the workshop, hidden from view, perhaps you should take a leaf from Volvo’s book in the same way the manufacturer appears to have taken one from the independent sector, and encourage them to talk to your customers, explain the issues with the car and what work needs to be done in order to put the problem right. The more open the dialogue, the more you build trust and reputation and the more your business grows.

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