At The Carwash; The Customer Really Is Always Right
You have no doubt heard the saying that the customer is always right. When you are a customer you happy with this position, when you are the owner of a small business, sometimes you see this is like opening Pandora's box. But for the sake of argument, let me add a caveat to that saying: "The customer is always right, even when they're wrong and you know it." After 27 years in the car wash and cleaning industry, I have heard it all. Here are some ways carwashes can mitigate upset customers.
When you handle a complaint, you need to treat the customer as though they are in the right for expressing their opinion, and since you are taking their money, they have every right to complain. You can handle these complaints by simply listening to what it is they have to say and offering suggestions as to how the problem can be fixed. Often fixing the problem might be very easy. Drips from a door jam or a streaked window is easily handled, and we've already suggested solutions and ideas to help that customer return with their business.
If you don't think you can fix the problem (for whatever reason), you can have them call the owner and let them handle any situation, and help mediate or settle any problem that might have occurred. This will not change their attitude towards the manager or employee, every business man knows you cannot please everyone. Some customers just like to complain and a little empathy goes a long way.
Removing A Customer
If a customer continually complains, and you've given them free car washes, discounts, and just about everything within your power, the next step is to give them a business card or referral to the most expensive car wash or detail shop in the area and say "I'm sorry, we're just unable to please you." Let them learn for themselves just how valuable and affordable your service is to them. They may be sorry for complaining and come back, but in the meantime you'll have removed them from your database and saved yourself weeks of problems. As well as eliminated an irate and irrational customer from tainting your image in front of your more decent clientele.
Occasionally, maybe once a week, someone will write you a bad check. Usually it's under thirty dollars, and they'll really be embarrassed. The best thing, of course, is not to confront the customer in front of others. Never say to someone "You wrote me a bad check" in front of their co-workers or even people they do not know. This will embarrass your customer.
Simply mail the bad check back to the person who wrote it and request to be paid in cash the next time you see them. If it's a customer you've never seen before and think you never will again, mail it back to them and ask them to write another check 'now that your funds may be more sufficient.' We've found this to be the easiest way to handle a touchy situation. They'll usually feel bad and mail you the money back. If they don't, don't worry about it, just write it off and go on with being the best car wash company in the world. If a person seems to write bad checks consistently you should, of course, politely suggest to that person that business should be done on a cash-only basis.
Remember the customer is always right and they need to know that you know that, so show empathy and understanding and make them feel that you respect them and want their business at your carwash. Think about it.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs
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