Lessons for accountants…… from car mechanics

Aug 5, 2014 | Client service

The new owners of our local garage prompted me to take the car in for an MOT recently. It passed – which was a relief. But then just two weeks later I received a note from the same garage reminding me that the car needed a service. Why didn’t they check when this was due and remind me so that they could carry out the service at the same time as they did the MOT?

It’s a bit of a pain getting the car to the garage, coping without it for a day and then repeating the exercise a few days later. especially, when, with a little planning it could all have been done at the same time.

Of course if I cared more about my car perhaps I might have realised that it was likely to need a service and I could have taken the initiative to ask the garage to do this at the same time as the MOT. But they have all the records. Why didn’t they do this?

In a world where we are all encouraged to up-sell, is the garage owner losing easy business I wonder?

I would like to think that perhaps he wanted to avoid giving customers the feeling that they are being upsold to more services (no pun intended) than are required at any one time. I think it more likely that the garage systems had not been programmed to check and combine upcoming prompts for work needed on customers’ cars.

I doubt I’m alone in preferring to avoid the unnecessary nuisance of returning a second time within just a couple of weeks. And, even though the garage had recently changed hands I would have welcomed evidence of thinking about things from my perspective.

What lessons can we draw for accountants here?

– When you chase up missing data for accounts and tax returns, do your best to ask for everything you need rather than make such requests in dribs and drabs – unless you know the client is more likely to respond to a succession of requests for separate items spread out over a number of days and weeks;

– Whenever you meet with or speak with clients think about any upcoming deadlines so that you do not seem to be completely removed from any subsequent automated reminders;

– Until you have built trust with new clients try to avoid making them feel that you are pressurising them into spending more money with you – ie: premature upselling;

– Once a client trusts you they are more likely to take your advice about things even if this involves them spending more money with you; I know next to nothing about what goes under the bonnet of my car. If a mechanic whom I trust tells me what I need to do, I tend to accept their advice.

What other lessons can accountants draw from car mechanics?

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