Service Excellence in Surprising Places

Most of us in the hospitality or service industries know good service when we experience it but it doesn’t necessarily mean luxurious service specifically. One of my favorite service stories is a small auto repair shop by the name of Mark’s Independent Service. It may initially seem a bit incongruous because don’t most people hate taking their car to a mechanic? Yes, they do! However, that’s part of what is so fantastic about booking an appointment for service at Mark’s; I never dread an encounter. 

I found this particular service center through Yelp, where they have a 4.5-star overall rating, and Google, where they have a 5-star rating, which immediately put me at ease. (Lesson #1: Reputation in important.) The first interaction I had was with a young woman named Colleen. I don’t want to turn this into a study on gender bias, but I will say that it was refreshing to see a bright, enthusiastic, competent woman at the helm, given that the repair industry is generally populated by male service technicians. I would have been happy regardless who I worked with, as long as they knew what they were doing, of course.

As I mentioned, Colleen’s demeanor was exceptional. She was warm, friendly, clearly knew what she was doing, and immediately put me at ease. (Lesson #2:Ensure your customer is comfortable.) She educated me on their processes, gave me a realistic expectation of the time and financial commitment, and made arrangements for me to continue to work while on site waiting for my vehicle. Service time expectation was paramount as I was coming in from Ventura County to Chatsworth. For those of you not familiar with Southern California traffic, this can be anywhere from a 45-minute drive to 2 hours. With that kind of fluctuation in traffic time, knowing how long your vehicle will take is important! (Lesson #3: Anticipate customer needs.)

Imagine if you will, a typical auto repair shop waiting room. Sort of small, dingy, maybe there is some coffee and a few magazines, right? Now, take all that “comfort” away due to COVID-19. How did she still manage to make me happy, you may ask? It was as simple as recognizing that I had made a long drive to see them and placing a chair in a convenient location outside where she was still able to reach me if they had any questions. (Lesson #4: Customer service is not rocket science.) By anticipating my needs and making arrangements for my comfort, I was kept a satisfied customer. I didn’t even need the coffee machine! Mostly because I am also a coffee fiend and already had my to-go cup, but still…

The most important element of what Mark’s does for me as a client though is consistency. Every time I go in, even if I don’t see Colleen, they know who I am, they know my car, and the work is excellent. I have never had to take my vehicle back for a second trip and I always leave feeling like my car was well-treated, just like I was. (Lesson #5:  Consistency is key.) This piece is so important because it brings me the security, as a client, to recommend Mark’s to my friends and family. I have posted reviews for them and will continue to sing their praises (without any sort of kick-back, just for the record) for doing the job I am paying them to do, consistently and with excellence in mind.

Loving what you do, taking pride in your work and your interactions with your clients, and consistently delivering will always pay off in the long run. All of those elements, in turn, result in a stellar reputation. And Colleen? She has recently completed negotiations to take ownership of Mark’s as of January 2021! So if you are on the fence about what matters, stick with the basics and you are sure to win over your clients again and again.

If you are in the Southern California area and seeking an auto repair shop, consider my recommendation and try Mark’s: 

For more information on how It’s About the Details can assist your small business, team, or company with any Human Resources needs, Training, or Business Mentoring, reach out to us at [email protected] and we will contact you directly to help facilitate enhancements for your business to thrive. 

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