The Million Dollar Question to Ask Every Auto Repair Customer

By Bob Cooper

Whenever a new customer walks into a shop, there are countless questions they’ll be asked. The more successful shop owners not only ask questions about the automobile, but they’ll often ask, “Do you mind if I ask how you found us?” Their intent is to discover which advertising media caused the customer to come into their shop. All good so far, but I’ve learned over the years that there’s a better question to ask, and I call it the Million Dollar Question. Here’s why.

When I was still in the auto repair business, I came to the conclusion that the absolute best customers were those who were referred by their friends. As I am sure you’ll agree, people who are referred are presold on you and your employees. I also came to the conclusion that people will trust us with their cars and their credit cards by simply authorizing the work, but when they trust us with their family members and friends, they have reached a much higher level of confidence in us. Accordingly, we need to know who these people are, and we need to let them know how much we appreciate their trust in us. So here’s what I’m going to encourage you to do. 

Instruct your staff to ask every first-time customer, “Do you mind if I ask who referred you to us?” If you do, here’s what you’re going to discover. First of all, you’ll find in many cases it will jog their memory, and instead of simply saying something like, “I drive by your shop every day”, they’ll provide you with a name.

As soon as they give you that name you’ll have an incredible opportunity to build your rapport with the customer, and you’ll certainly put them at ease when they remember they were referred to you.  This question also sends a strong message that you get a lot of referrals, and if someone asks you why you are asking, you can simply tell them that you get a lot of referrals, and you like to call and thank those people.

Lastly, after the service is performed, you’ll need to pick up the phone, call the person who referred the customer, and thank them for their trust in you. I have found over the years that if you make those calls, the person on the other end of the phone will be pleasantly surprised that you took the time to call them, and they’ll spend most of the time telling you why they are so confident in you and your people. Not only are they reselling themselves on you, but in most cases, before the call is over they’ll start asking you when they’re due for their next services. By asking this Million Dollar Question, everyone wins. The new customer is put at ease, the customer who referred them to you is shown the appreciation they deserve, and you have a presold customer, and a songbird… who will continue singing your praises.  

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