It’s the embarrassing apology that serves as a warning to garage owners everywhere.
Last week a British mechanical shop was forced to apologize to a customer after “dashcam” footage recorded while the vehicle was being serviced revealed a technician had driven the customer’s car at 54 miles per hour in a 40mph zone through the local town.
The customer was, understandably, “disgusted” to discover his vehicle being abused by employees of such a large, trusted and respected dealership — especially as it could have landed him with three points on his license if the vehicle had been caught by a speed camera.
How bad did it get for the garage?
While the garage apologized to the customer, he still went to the media to share his story. Once the press got hold of it, a spokeswoman for the dealership’s parent company had no choice but to issue a public apology, saying “an investigation had been carried out and the staff member concerned had received additional training.”
The spokeswoman said: “We regret the incident at our dealership in Darlington and have conducted a thorough internal investigation in line with our company policy and procedures.
“Action has been taken with the colleague concerned and additional training has been completed by the team to ensure there is no repeat of this event.”
The response from the company might be Good Marketing 101. The fact the incident happened in the first place, let alone made it into the media, risks brand damage in an industry where consumers have plenty of competitors to choose from.
What this means for your dealership
Dashboard cameras are becoming more and more common. Some vehicles, like Tesla cars, come with cameras standard. Plenty of other motorists are choosing to buy dash or windscreen-mounted versions.
That’s a trend that’s not going away. According to Allied Market Research, the vehicle camera market will grow by 15 percent through 2022 — approaching $8 billion in annual sales. That’s because they’re becoming popular as evidence for road accidents, false insurance claims and vehicle thefts.
That means whenever a member of your staff gets into a vehicle with a dashboard or onboard camera, their actions, activities and words could well be being recorded.
According to one report, again out of Britain, some customers are now deliberately activating their cameras to catch out dealerships that might be behaving unprofessionally — like siphoning fuel.
What to do to keep your dealership’s good reputation
Here are a couple of key initiatives that will help prevent a situation like the one above.
Educate and train your staff
Have professional standards in place in your dealership and ensure staff members uphold them at all times. Educate your staff about the possibility a customer’s onboard camera could be recording their words and actions.
Use video of your own to build trust
Consider using video of your own to improve your customer service. Recently Traction News spoke to Direct Tire owner Barry Steinberg, who was an early adopter of GetTransparency — a video app and storage service that allows service departments in car dealerships and independent shops to “virtually bring customers into the service bay and see what the technician sees.” That way you’re empowering the customer and building trust at the same time, making it less likely they’ll record you on the sly.
You can read more about the technology here.