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No Lines in the Sand Drawn at Hires

Understanding customer perception is Step 1 at Indiana Shop
Monday, November 29, 2010 - 01:00

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At Hires Automotive in Fort Wayne, Ind., the service writers are trained to make sure the customers’ perceptions are the right ones.

“It doesn’t matter if we think we serviced the customer properly or not. What matters is what the customer thinks, because if they don’t think we took good care of them, they won’t come back,” says Tom Hire, president of Hires Automotive Center.

He says in the past, some service writers would draw a line in the sand and stay firm to what they thought was right, regardless of what the customer thought or their side of the story. That’s not the way Hires, in business since 1927, believes it should be done. All service writers now are professionally trained by ATI and R.L. O’Connor, and learn all about customer perception.

“It is just about putting yourself in their shoes, understanding, listening and taking care of them,” Hire says. “It is not always about who is right or wrong. It is about making the experience enjoyable so they come back.”

Hires Automotive, with four locations, the main one being this year’s Top Shop honoree, communicates the importance of its customers’ perception at its shop-wide monthly meetings. How they can improve customer service is just one item discussed each month, according to Hire. Others are: What can we do to make your job easier, better and more enjoyable? How can we help you be more productive? Finally, there is a review of the previous month’s sales, goals and results.

Additionally, a different subject is discussed each month. Starting in January with a review of vehicle inspections, Hires employees learn more about safety; cores, defect handling and inventory control; shop cleanliness, summer specials, labor times and “Summer Spiff”; building the average ticket; communication in the shop, maintenance sales; fall and winter specials and labor times; employee benefits; the coming year’s training plan; and the coming year’s sales projections.

This helps back up the reasons Hires’ employees have stayed with the company for so long. Four of the eight technicians have been with the main location 21, 18 and 16 years respectively. Hires provides its techs with current factory scan tools and a plethora of training. The shop makes vendor Internet training available, and sends techs to local training and to other schools sponsored by vendors. A local trainer gets the best of the drivability techs in the area together for training twice a month.

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