January 2015

What’s Your Biggest Driving Pet Peeve?

More and more businesses are beginning to see that social media is a very attractive way to become more visible and relevant to your customers. Take advantage of this forum to let people know the interesting events coming up in your shop, show them the latest tricked out vehicle you just worked on, or to say “Happy Birthday!” to your regulars.

One way to “drive traffic” to your page is to post questions that pique interest, then invite a response! Here’s one that I recently asked where the replies were swift and numerous. I posted my own driving pet peeve as a starter and that’s all that was needed to trigger numerous comments. See the sample below.

What’s Your Biggest Driving Pet Peeve?
(MY pet peeve is when people follow too closely. My reaction is to put on my blinkers to get them to back off. I found out later this must be a genetic response because my sister told me she does the same thing!)

Other comments among many were:

“People who put on their blinkers to get me to stop following too close!” (Ok…should I stop doing that?)

“Hanging out in the left passing lane on the interstate, aka Left Lane Losers.”

“Waiting until the last possible minute to merge onto the highway; darting across the solid white line, causing everyone to slam on their brakes.”

“Slow mergers, drivers causing a backup by not letting people merge. Particularly at on ramps.” 

“If I let you in, give me a wave!” Followed by: “When I get flipped off.” (Hate it when that happens!)

“People (and motorcycles) who dart and weave in traffic or otherwise drive recklessly.”

“Waiting for a pedestrian to cross as sloooowly as possible. Put some hustle into it!”

“Eyes not on the road…they are putting on makeup, texting, looking at phone, etc.”

“It is common courtesy that if someone is going faster than you to get over and let them pass!”

“People who are scared to turn right on red when allowed.”

“My biggest pet peeve is when people drive when I drive.”

One of my friends even included something to read. “There’s a great book called, “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do” by Tom Vanderbilt that explains a lot that I recommend.

Asking these kinds of questions will allow you to engage with your customers and to get to know them at a different and important level. They may even find it fun! It’s a great way to help them remember who you are and to check back to see what’s new. I will be very interested to hear back from you as to what kinds of questions you post and what results you get from doing so.

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Amateur vs. Professional

I’ve been pondering this and have decided there just might actually be three levels of auto repair available to the average person: Amateur, Less Than Professional (LTP,) and Professional.

I would put my neighbor Lloyd in the LTP category. He’s always working on cars for people, and his backyard is generally full of them. He works on engines deep into the night with loud music playing and bright lights glaring. As an employee at the auto parts store around the corner, he can take advantage of his employee discount—now there’s a perk! I think of him has LTP because I doubt the cars kept there overnight are covered by his insurance, I don’t know if he’s willing to take a hit if it wasn’t fixed right the first time, and surely you don’t leave with a nice list of all the work that was done.

Being curious, I put this out on Facebook and benefitted from the answers I got back. Some have been edited for clarity:

“An amateur is a friend who fixes your car for free. A pro is someone who fixes your car for a small fortune.”

“A pro is someone who has a college associates degree in his practice or who has been to the available specialty schools and courses available to mechanics. An amateur is someone like me, who learns from experience and making mistakes, which is only acceptable if I own the car being fixed! This is usually based on being poor and buying lots of old cars in order to keep them running if possible.”

“Formal training, experience, oversight and tools. I can’t speak to cars but I have been a professional computer technician before. When I work on a computer problem now I still have a lot of knowledge and experience but I have to make do with my own tools and whatever help I can find if I need it. When I worked in a tech shop every tool imaginable (hardware and software) was right there so things could always be done the right way. There were also other techs around to help out or share knowledge and experience”

“My son is a mechanic. I would say make sure they have some ASE certifications. I always ask about that when I take my car somewhere. The more they have the better they will be. I think there is a total of 8, and they are hard to pass”

“With a professional your car is fixed right the first time.”  Note: Said more than once.

So…what are your thoughts?  What separates the amateur from the professional and is there a stage in between?

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Out with the Old?

From 1960-1969 my father worked as a manager at a McDonalds in Lincoln, Nebraska.  From the best he can remember, hamburgers cost 15 cents, cheeseburgers 20 cents and fries 12 cents. You could actually get two meals with drinks for a dollar! Although quite young at the time, I remember my dad working there for two main reasons. 

1. Later when we moved to (very) rural Colorado, my dad was willing to drive for miles and miles just to get a McDonalds hamburger
2. I received a lesson in honesty in business dealings that served me all of my life.

One afternoon while with him, we drove to a different neighborhood to a stranger’s house. “What are we doing here?” I asked.  “I’m taking a nickel to this woman who was overcharged for her order.” He replied. “We drove this way just to return five cents?” I was confused. “A nickel’s a nickel” my dad said with a smile and then left the car and rang the doorbell.

Here we are in the New Year. 2015. It’s finally here. With it will come new innovations, accessories, devices and advances. We are definitely a society that seeks what’s newest, best and at times, most outrageous. I look forward to that! As good as the new can be however, there are foundational “old fashioned values” needed to build trust. Here are some suggested when the question was posted on social media:

“Kindness, manners, service, helping people because it’s what you do, not to get recognition or thanks or a reward. Remembering that your time is your most valuable service.”

“Being friendly and cheerful even when you don’t feel like it. Giving someone a smile and a friendly hello can change their whole day and more importantly your own.”

“Modesty and language! Show respect for others through the way you dress and speak.”

“Honesty, honesty, honesty.”  (This was mentioned several times in several ways.)  “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. This goes both ways from employee to what employers pay. A strong work ethic is still plenty fashionable.”

“Basic respect and common courtesy. Saying please and thank you. Opening doors for people. Eye contact.”

You can add your own list, I’m sure. You haven’t maintained your long -standing business in any community without some level of trust, and trust comes largely from solid common values.

So, “in with the new!” But let’s not entirely be out with the old.

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