Opinion: What ever happened to good old fashioned customer service?

GW columnist, Tony Vincent shares his experiences and frustrations of vehicle health checks

Opinion: What ever happened to good old fashioned customer service?
Image: Bigstock.

I have a extremely strong opinion at the moment on dealer health checks and I need to get it off my chest.

Tony Vincent of MVS Blandford in Dorset.

I come from a main dealer background, so have seen our industry from both sides.

As a service manager at a Vauxhall main dealer, I experienced the pressures from above to increase technician efficiency and to upsell to our customers.

Honestly, it was horrendous.

During my time, the dealership introduced a paper health check and was soon replaced with an electronic check and later video.

I understand technicians want to earn as much money as possible for the job they do but, in my opinion, this has changed their role.

What we once understood as a service-driven job now seems to be sales-driven, at least that’s what seems to be the case among the nationals.

I now run an independent workshop and our job is to serve our customers and, using our expertise, advise them on their vehicle’s service and maintenance needs. 

Of course, every garage wants a full workshop but the best approach to long-term success has to be honesty and by being approachable. 

We have had some unbelievable health check reports given to us for a second opinion.

“Unbelievable health check reports”

A three year-old-mini, which had just been tested for the first time and had done 24,000 miles, supposedly needed almost £1,000 worth of work doing to it, according to the dealership’s health report.

And it wasn’t for tyres or brakes.

The customer was told the ‘poly V belt’ was cracking and that the rear suspension bushes were showing some signs of wear, silly little advisories but the car was spotless.

Then there was an Audi RS4.

It’s main dealer health check report showed that it required £4331.49 worth of work.

We were asked for a second opinion and our own health report suggested that the vehicle required £1,147.26 worth of work and that’s using genuine parts.

Second-opinion health checks

We offer second-opinion health checks for free and it’s working well for us.

I only show our technicians the original health check report after they have conducted an inspection for themselves, we then compare reports and take another look at the vehicle.

There will always be a difference of opinion but blatant scaremongering by telling customer that their vehicle “needs” this, that or the other shouldn’t be as common as it is.

An honest garage with experienced technicians will always be best placed for good old-fashioned customer service.

Share your comments below.

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Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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  • #189505 Reply
    Peter Miles
    Guest

    I’m afraid a lot of the main dealers are now adopting the same “standards” we used to sneer at when they were only applied by the fast fits. Basically try your best to scare the customer into agreeing to unnecessary work.
    I’ve seen a lot of this from Hondas over the last year. Taken in for the airbag recall, get a free health check. That is a free check that will cost you several hundred pounds if you just take their word for it. A good example was worn pads. Worn to 80% as thick as brand new ones, and then told that the discs should be replaced as well as they were “only” 2mm over the minimum thickness. New ones straight out of the box are only 3mm over!

    #189517 Reply
    Tony Vincent
    Guest

    Agreed Peter some of the manufactures software updates I have questioned as to what the actual update is for? or is it just a excuse for the vehicle to be in the workshop for a “free health check”

    #189518 Reply
    Eddie Bamber
    Guest

    I happened to be at an independent garage on business and was asked to give an impartial view of a set of front brake discs and pads to a vehicle owner. He’d recently had his car serviced at this garage. The discs were perfect and the pads were about half worn. Nothing untoward. The owner had taken his car to a main dealer for a recall and while it was there, the dealer said that the front brake pads were dangerous and should be changed immediately. The owner was understandably annoyed with the servicing garage and confronted them with the ‘worn’ parts. Once I assured him that they were fine, he was going to speak to Trading Standards about the dealer.

    #189528 Reply
    Paul
    Guest

    I think you’re all missing the point. A VHC used properly is an important communication tool to offer the customer peace of mind. If i’m noting brakes I’m not using words like “perfect” or “about” i’ll record on the VHC the new thickness, measured thickness and minimum thickness and work on fact not opinion.

    #189546 Reply
    NEIL
    Guest

    We find this all the time but no one does anything about it as there meant to be the best you can get (supposedly)they are just con artist that want to take as much money out of a customer as they can because somebody has to pay for all the glitz and glam at the dealers premises and all the useless staff milling around doing nothing all day

    #189556 Reply
    John Tullett
    Guest

    CAT magazine recently ran an article on this subject and quoted my observations which echo those of this author. I understand that ‘used properly’ a VHC can be a good thing, but in more than 45 years with my business my experience is that garages find the opportunity to make money irresistable, especially as the VH check is often carried out because the customer already trusts the garage. It isn’t just true of Main Dealers but is probably more prominent with them due to their being strongly finance driven from above. I don’t think this is an excuse though, the technicial has a choice and should use it. The moral I think is to get a second opinion at least, as suggested here.

    #189585 Reply
    Graham
    Guest

    I think Paul is missing the point.
    You might be doing an excellent job with the VHC but when you hand it over to the sales staff the ‘con’ starts. They are the ones who are on an incentive to sell, frightening genuine, trusting vehicle owners. As an independent we built our reputation on telling the truth, even if it’s bad. My customers respect that.
    No wonder certain areas of the ‘trade’ are giving us all such a bad name when it comes to trust.

    #189540 Reply
    graham cox
    Guest

    the problem is simple mixed standards and huge preesures on garages to remain solvent the public except an awfull lot and the garages struggle to recruit quality staff the whole industry needs to stand back and take a long hard look at itself and a decent regulation process needs to be set up with each mechanic needing constant checks over a yearly basis by an independent body. .most independent garages offer a good service but feel that margins are to low because of fast fits and dealers charging the wrong prices.example we all know to service a car using the correct oil and filters should cost the public £220.00 approx. so why do garages price the services at £125.00 all in ??? you know who I am talking about!! all this does is erode customer confidence.

    #189589 Reply
    Dougal
    Guest

    ‘WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO GOOD OLD FASHIONED CUSTOMER SERVICE ?’

    At ground level nothing has changed, what has changed is that reliable local dealerships increasingly get swallowed up by bigger groups who have taken on debt to acquire them and need an increased income to service that debt.

    Health Checks are just a tool, like any tool you can use it or misuse it.

    #189657 Reply
    Paul
    Guest

    I think Paul is missing the point.
    You might be doing an excellent job with the VHC but when you hand it over to the sales staff the ‘con’ starts. They are the ones who are on an incentive to sell, frightening genuine, trusting vehicle owners. As an independent we built our reputation on telling the truth, even if it’s bad. My customers respect that.
    No wonder certain areas of the ‘trade’ are giving us all such a bad name when it comes to trust.

    I am the sales staff and i’m not a con artist. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that everyone elses standards are the same as yours!

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)

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