I've spent quite a few hours reading online reviews of shops across the country. I'm looking for trends in what makes customers happy and what makes them unhappy. I plan to find out what makes customers most happy and give them that while avoiding things that make customers unhappy.
Here's what I've learned. Real mistakes, real complaints, are few and far between. Most 1 and 2 star reviews fall into 1 of 5 categories:
1) PRICES - This is the most common complaint. Somebody feels like a shop overcharged them. My question is always "compared to what?" Overcharging requires a comparison. Well, independent shops like mine are always more expensive than Wal-Mart, parts stores, friends who work on cars, uncles, and salvage yards. However, we also offer warranties, courtesy cars, highly trained technicians, quick service and reliable business hours. So our customers also get more.
2) GRUMPY STAFF - This is usually tied with warranties. It's a legit complaint that should never happen.
3) WARRANTIES - Warranties are just confusing and there are always ways for shops to wiggle out of honoring them. Sometimes however, it really is a misunderstanding. It's important for you to understand that a warranty only covers parts than fail due to defects during the warranty period. We escape most of this problem by using quality parts the first time.
4) KNOW-IT-ALLS - These are the guys who don't know what they don't know. They know just enough to ask challenging questions but not enough to fix it themselves. There are 100s of ways to approach a repair and every technician has their preferred method. When I see these reviews I suspect that no shop could have gotten it right.
5) OLD CARS - I'm sorry, but when I read through bad reviews they tend to involve older cars more frequently than newer cars. Here's why, older cars are hard to work with, things break during repairs and they are often poorly maintained. They are really hard to work with and easy to make mistakes with. It's no wonder they attract bad reviews.
If you haven't noticed, I'll point it out for you. Of the 5 items on this list, I can only control the GRUMPY STAFF. My prices are set to keep me in business, warranties have terms that I can afford to honor, old cars are brittle and challenging and certain customers will argue with everything.
My search to improve my shop has revealed that there are some things that are simply beyond my direct control and that the odds of having 0 negative reviews is 0%. However, that will not stop us from getting better each day and doing our best to earn positive reviews.