The Road Ahead : April May 2008
8 APR/MAY 08 STORY BELINDA PETERS PHOTOS STUART RILEY For motorists with minimal mechanical knowledge, especially women, a trip to the mechanic can at times feel like a daunting experience. But that doesn't have to be the case. According to RACQ's executive manager vehicle technologies, Steve Spalding, a lack of technical knowledge isn't a barrier to receiving good mechanical servicing. "A lack of technical knowledge is not a hindrance for a customer. The customer just has to be clear about what they're asking for, describe the symptoms in detail as best they can and be clear on the arrangements for additional work," Mr Spalding said. "The person who walks in there and is clear about what they want will get a better outcome than a person who is vague or not specific, and they may have all the technical knowledge in the world." "Horror stories seem to emerge when there's not a clear meeting of minds in terms of what work needs to be done and what arrangements are in place when additional problems are found. "In most cases, neither the technical aspects or the quality of the work are the issue." Peter McCormack, director of McCormack's Auto Service at Sandgate, agrees. He said he made a point of keeping keep customers in the loop by giving them all the information they needed to make a decision about extra repairs. "It's important to treat customers with respect," Mr McCormack said. He said he had noticed that both men and women had distinctive needs when bringing their cars in for servicing and that the company strived to exceed customer expectations, whether it was dropping the customer home or ensuring a mechanic was available to explain a problem in greater depth. "As a rule, we've found men are more concerned with technical aspects of their cars, while women are more concerned with safety," Mr McCormack said. Mr Spalding suggested that if a car owner didn't already have a regular, trusted mechanic, then a good place to start was by looking for an RACQ approved repairer. "By choosing an RACQ approved repairer, you're well on the way to having a good outcome," Mr Spalding said. "The approved repairer scheme takes into account issues important to customers, including presentation of the workshop and waiting areas, through to parking and access," Mr Spalding said. "Recommendations from family and friends are also a good starting point." If you don't have a personal recommendation to fall back on, Mr Spalding suggests approaching who you think could be a suitable repairer. "Ask them what sort of work they do, their prices and how they bill, and gauge if they have the right equipment and skills to work on your particular car," Mr Spalding said. "Also, find out what they do if additional repairs are needed." He said face-to-face contact could help you decide if the repairer is right for you and allowed you to see the presentation of the business to find out if you're comfortable leaving your car there. "If you're not comfortable or you didn't like the way that the person interacted with you, it's unlikely you'll do further business with them," he said. Once you've chosen a repairer, work on establishing a good relationship to allay uncertainties come servicing time. Mechanical manner It's important to use a car repairer who you are comfortable with. features INDIVIDUAL NEEDS ARE IMPORTANT Mechanical workshops are increasingly recognising the needs of female car owners. An Adelaide company recently developed a national 'Pink Tick' accreditation system to recognise female-friendly repairers who address the needs of women by meeting such criteria as: • Not displaying inappropriate calendars, posters or magazines. • Providing a comfortable, non-smoking waiting room, clean restrooms and hygiene facilities. • Providing a minimum quote upon inspection and getting customer approval for anything above that quote. • Presenting all old parts to the customer before they are thrown away. • Explaining the work needed in real terms under the categories of cosmetic changes, maintenance and safety. For more information, visit femalefriendly.com.au.
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June July 2008