Enjoy reading about our feature in Ratchet & Wrench magazine.
Though they took some artistic license with the over the phone interview…. I think they captured a sense of what we have to offer.
DIFFERENT ANGLE: A look into the lobby of Bogi Lateiner’s 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix. Photo by Matt Winquist
Everybody likes unexpected perks—from a free bottle of water while you wait to a seat upgrade on a cross-country flight. Giving customers something they didn’t see coming can help build loyalty and create a story around which a business can define itself within its community, says Bogi Lateiner, owner and president of 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix and trainer with the Institute for Automotive Business Excellence
Her fast-growing shop north of downtown Phoenix doubles as an art gallery, and is just one example of an auto repair business that has uncorked its creativity with customer service initiatives beyond quality repairs.
The goal, Lateiner says, is giving your shop a larger story to tell, because, as she sees it, repairing cars properly the first time is just the “bare minimum of what we do.”
To show ways shops can improve their customer service with atypical add-ons, Ratchet+Wrench spoke with owners of two more facilities that, like Lateiner, are thinking differently to the delight of their employees, customers, communities and bottom lines.
Chip Vance is president of Auto Assets, a performance-focused shop north of Columbus, Ohio. Beyond installing racing chips or go-fast exhaust systems, Vance’s shop offers customers something they can’t get at many, if any, other auto repair facilities—a therapeutic massage.
After buying the company in 2005 and starting a family, Vance’s wife, Mindee, sought a job that would offer her more flexibility. With an interest in natural and homeopathic healing, she became a licensed massage therapist. The pair decided to build her a massage studio in the shop, rather than renting a remote location somewhere else in town.
“I think we approach customer relations and customer service differently than [competitors] do and I think that’s where our success comes from.”
—Chip Vance, president, Auto Assets
Now, customers can get a massage while they wait for their vehicles. The unusual combination of spousal skills has allowed them to build a one-off business that refers customers to and from both sides, while generating discussion and interest within their service area.
“It’s one hand washing the other,” says Vance of the combo. “Massage clients that she’s gotten from referrals are introduced to our repair business, so that’s one more person who walks in and sees our facility, sees the kind of cars we work on and then refers other people they see [who may own] a Porsche or BMW.”
Garage Massage is a separate business unit, located in its own corner on the second level of a new building, with its own serene decor, and it is purposely placed far from the sound of impact wrenches and revving engines.
The normal rate for an hour-long massage is $70, although shop customers can get an hour’s worth of stress relief for $50. Vance estimates that two to three of his clients opt for a massage in a typical week, not enough to transform the bottom line of either business. The benefit, he says, is in providing a unique perk to the customers, while giving his family greater flexibility
“As a business, we look for ways to differentiate our business from all of the other places that customers go,” Vance says. “Massage is an added component that no one else has, so we are different than our competition. I think we approach customer relations and customer service differently than they do and I think that’s where our success comes from, doing what’s best for the customer and being honest with them, documenting what we do, sharing information and educating them so they can make good decisions.”