Tag Archive | "Customers"

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A serious fire doesn't mean meltdown for LMA

A serious fire doesn’t mean meltdown for LMA

UK aerosol Manufacturer LMA made headline news earlier this summer after a fire broke out at the factory’s site in Pocklington Industrial Estate, causing damage to its buildings and wares while leaving the firm with a hefty insurance claim.

Two months on and the company, which cans many well-known aftermarket brands, reports that it is on the mend with staff and suppliers ‘pulling together’ to get the warehouse back up and running, according to Fraser Todd, Owner of LMA Services: “Everybody has been very flexible and positive about the situation. There’s things that are obviously inconvenient without some of the warehouse and storage, but everybody has pulled together and made an extra effort to keep customers supplied”.

Todd told CAT that although the accident caused some ‘inconvenience’ to customers, they have been ‘very understanding’ with most of its aerosol and chemical products now back on the shelves. “We had a very grateful understanding of customers, some of whom suffered and continued to suffer an element of inconvenience”. Todd continued: “Most materials are back in stock and production is more or less at the level it was before the fire even without the warehousing. Some elements of lead times and suppliers, raw material and delivery have compromised our ability to meet previous obligations that we made to customers”.

The firm looks to a brighter future and is exploring some redesign options to make the factory bigger and better than before. “We have plans to grow and clearly this has been inconvenient on a number of levels, but we view it as an opportunity to learn. We’re working to rebuild to be better and learn from some of the mistakes that our competitors and we have made in this area. We are still very optimistic about the future”, Todd concluded.

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Andy Savva – Running a garage would be easy if it wasn’t for the customers. Andy Savva has some tips for dealing with complaints.

Andy Savva

Andy Savva has run various large independent garages and has been a troubleshooter for underperforming franchise workshops.

Running any business, and perhaps more so a service business like an independent garage, you have to learn to recognise there are different types of customers with different expectations. How we deal and adapt our services the customer journey to meet and exceed these expectations are essential if we are going to succeed in having a healthy profitable business. This function must be adopted by everyone in your organisation regardless of size.

However occasionally we are faced with challenging customers who usually complain in a passively aggressive manner. These customers feel they have a reason to be upset. I always used to say to my team at Brunswick Garage, that there will always be a small percentage of customers that we will never be able to please, and importantly we must not let these handful of customers taint our view of all customers. When you find yourself having to deal with a disgruntled customer, remembering a few simple techniques can help to defuse the situation. Both parties being upset and defensive will not amount to anything positive.

In my experience running independent garages, I came to the realisation that in virtually every case of an unhappy customer, all that was needed to resolve the concern was to actually listen to them!


Now, the customer isn’t always right, but it’s not always okay to tell them that, sometimes you have to act as if they are right. Active listening, eye contact, nodding your head in agreement, being on the same level with them, expressing empathy, and relating to how the customer is feeling can be incredibly helpful. Remember to place yourself in the customer’s position or frame of mind and never patronise a customer or look for excuses. We are working in an industry where many aspects of the customer journey have to come together, from the initial phone call to returning the customers vehicle keys, so we have to accept that sometimes things go wrong however much we try to avoid mistakes.

Once you have been able to establish some rapport, you may find a mutually agreeable resolution to the problem, and you must do whatever you can to achieve this outcome. Explain to the customer what you are going to do to help the situation. It could be engaging the customer in a test drive to better understand the complaint, admitting the garage made a mistake, or if possible offering the customer a lift back home, work or a loan vehicle while you resolve their issue. You must assure at all times the customer feels that you are truly trying your best to resolve their concern and provide them with the least convenience as possible.

GARAGE VISITCustomer_complaints

Many of us have worked in the automotive sector for so long we forget what it is like to bring our vehicle for repair. Knowing what your competition is doing can also pay dividends in other ways too. It can help you set yourself apart by creating a business experience, an atmosphere that is different from any other garage locally and far beyond.

Keeping perspective when it comes to the customer experience will help you to create a positive customer experience and maintain a solid customer base. At Brunswick Garage we were of course never happy to receive complaints, however we used it as a prompt to better our service and if a customer made the effort to write or email us with a concern we displayed their comments in reception with the thank you letters. We wanted to show our customers that we were not perfect, but also show them we took complaints very seriously and we always aimed at achieving a positive outcome. Learning to handle challenging customers will build respect for your business and ultimately result in higher customer retention & profits.

You can find out about Andy’s consultancy services by contacting: savvaautomotive.com

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Andy Savva There is a time and a place for promotions, but don’t let it be at the expense of your existing customers

Andy Savva

Andy Savva Savva has run various large independent garages and has been a troubleshooter for underperforming franchise workshops. comment@haymarketcom

One of the biggest mistakes I see regularly within the independent garage sector is the constant advertising specifically in local press with ‘come and get me’ offers in order to attract new business. Most of these already established business whether large or small will rarely measure the effectiveness of such campaigns or analyse the type of customers they are attracting and indeed very few of these business actually understand the gems that already exist within their database.


Lack of thought is given to how an existing customer may feel if he or she saw an offer that was never offered to them, after being a loyal customer for a number of years – a real kick in the teeth. We’ve all seen big corporations like Sky TV, Vodafone, and the utility companies offering far better terms for new customers than any existing customer can get. In my opinion this form of ‘transactional marketing’ does not work in the independent garage sector as it does not lead to long term loyalty and leads to these potential new customers hopping from one garage deal to the next one.

There is no point trying to attract vast numbers of new customers and provide them with a substandard service based on a cheap price that can cause severe damage to the reputation of the business. Another factor is that established customers tend to buy more and are less price-sensitive and might be less likely to defect due to price alone.


You have to focus on what I call ‘relationship marketing’ – a form of communication with your existing customers that comes in many guises. However your own database and the gems within must always be your starting point. It also builds a platform were the business and its customers are more likely to be able to adapt to each other’s needs and reach agreement quickly and easily. So by actively getting emotionally connected and regularly engage with your existing customers will only enhance the trust and loyalty you build with them.

Simply by reminding customers of when their vehicle’s MOT expires or of their next service due date is the minimum that any independent garage should be undertaking. Reminding them of specific campaigns such as winter checks or health checks if they are planning long journeys will reinforce that you care about them and keep them safe. By expanding this two-way communication with news of any success stories within the business, such as: charitable fund raising by the business or any employee, training & development that’s undertaken, new services/products introduced will reinforce to your customers that you want to build long term relationships with them.

This strategy will help you constantly create a small influx of new customers through recommendations as appose to constantly advertising for a field for new ones, you will also greatly improve the chances of providing and exceeding the high level of service they expect, because you will not be swapped with a high level of new customers rushing to take you up on those “come and get me offers”. Therefore, this promotes another selection of new clientele that hopefully continues the cycle and improves the long -term implications for continued growth. Your existing customers will become your advocates, your marketing angels.

Quite simply, customers are the organisations most important asset (along with staff too) without them, it cannot exist. To survive, prosper and possibly expand the business, the aftermarket business owner must continue to acquire new customers but more importantly must never neglect existing customers or take them for granted.

Constant database management will build-up trust and personal knowledge with your customers, which creates a far more effective customer retention tool, which in turn, will find you more gems in the form of customers that come back time after time.

You can find out about Savva’s consultancy services by visiting: savvaautomotive.com


Winning repeat or additional business from existing customers is far easier than constantly hunting for new business – although successful operations will do both.

Don’t think that contacting existing customers has to be an arduous or time-consuming exercise. These days there is software available to send a text message, email or even prepare a physical letter to send directly to your customer. Some garage management systems such as Motasoft or SWS GA3 provide a facility to send such reminders, so the reminders can be set up to be sent out in the future when the job is initially booked.

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