If you’re interested in understanding the difficulties of managing a lube shop, add National Oil and Lube News to your reading list. The latest edition of “Lube Talk,” a regular NOLN segment featuring stories from small lube shop owners, suggests that lube shop management is an unenviable task. From the four vignettes, a few themes emerged:
1) Each shop owner is constantly thinking about “customer comebacks,” situations in which customers return to the shop claiming their vehicle problems have not been solved (or new problems have arisen). Example: a customer comes into the shop complaining of squeaky brakes. The lube shop technician believes he has eliminated the squeak. A week later, the problem re-emerges and an angry customer returns.
All four shop owners said that customer comebacks can be prevented with rigorous, standardized processes. Anne Geary, the manager of Oil ‘N’ Go in Crown Point, Indiana, has instituted the following requirement:
Every employee, after completing his hood, must always do two things before sending the invoice to the cashier: Shut the hood correctly by saying, “Caps on tight, all dipsticks in place and no tools or rags under the hood,” and, while they are saying this, they are touching every cap and dipstick. After they shut the hood, they must now get a downstairs check off.
The downstairs employees must say, “No differential or all diffs no leaks, I greased (the number) of grease fittings or no grease fittings, filter was a (filter number) and it’s dray and tight, drain plug is dry and tight, ready for drive off.”
This was just one of several military-like, rote processes that Geary demands of employees. Other lube shop managers discussed similar practices.
2) There are certain vehicles that lube shops hate to see. Volkswagens are a frequent point of frustration because of the unique labor requirements for performing simple repairs or maintenance procedures. Explaining to customers that their vehicle make is vulnerable to particularly high repair costs is not easy.
3) When these shops do make a mistake, or cannot prove definitively they did not make a mistake, the managers go out of pocket to cover the customer. For single-location businesses, such expenses are financially and emotionally vexing.
See the whole article at http://www.noln.net. It’s worth the read.