A study released this week suggests we may be in the midst of a paradigm shift — we seem to be spending less and less on vehicle maintenance.
Another finding: Certain “intangibles” of auto service and repair keep cropping up as the ones that really matter to us. I might be wrong, but they also seem to be the same ones that have been around since the dawn of time.
Consider this conversation, overheard in the establishment called Bob’s Wheel Service, circa 2,000 B.C.
“I come to get my wheel. You fix?”
“No, maybe tomorrow, bring back tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow no good.”
“You wouldn’t understand, wheel fixing business very complicated.”
“Me understand me want to complicate your brain structure with this rock.”
Ryan Robinson is director of the Canadian Automotive Practice at J.D. Power and Associates, the firm that asked more than 14,500 owners about their service experiences. He told me that those that did well in the satisfaction rankings, were obviously the ones that consistently “hit the mark” when it came to completing work on time.
“People really value their time these days. Service providers need to acknowledge and meet those expectations.”
But equally important, says Robinson, are the discussions that providers have with their customers. “Often customers don’t know what’s exactly going on with their vehicle. They have to put their trust in someone.”
The way they get that trust, Robinson says, is through good dialogue about the work that was just completed on the vehicle, about what it might need in the future, and being realistic and truthful about how long the vehicle needs to be in the shop.
“When customers feel they are being educated, and are given the straight goods about what the vehicle needs, the higher the trust and the higher the satisfaction scores.”
Scanning the list reveals only one dealership brand (Toyota-Lexus) to finish in the top ten and above the industry average.
According to Robinson, traditional aftermarket players seem better able to build and maintain those “one on one” customer relationships. But, he adds, there are many individual dealers, and even very large dealer groups, that also do well with satisfaction.
Overall Service Experience Satisfaction Index
1. PetroCanada Certigard 869
2. Goodyear Auto Centres 838
3. Jiffy Lube 835
4. OK Tire 832
5. NAPA AUTOPRO 831
6. Toyota-Lexus 825
7. Midas 822
8. Pennzoil 818
9. Fountain Tire 815
10. Mr. Lube 815
Industry Average 815
SOURCE: J.D. Power and Associates. Based on a 1,000-point scale. Over 14,500 respondents, with three- to 12-year old vehicles.