So you’ve put the hard work in to start an auto repair shop. But have you considered everything you need to make your business a success? Having top-notch customer service can be an excellent way to retain existing customers and get new business, but that’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
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While revving up your front office and finding the right service advisors, you should also revamp your shop’s waiting room. Auto repair shop office design can wait—you need to make sure your customers are comfortable first.
Why is the waiting room so important?
The waiting room contributes significantly to an auto repair shop’s layout since customers spend a lot of time there. Customers are likely to feel frustrated when coming in for auto repair/service since they might not have access to their vehicle for a few hours or days. Plus, research shows that 33.5% of American households have access to a single car, indicating how important their vehicles are to them.
A well thought-out auto shop waiting area can greatly improve the customer experience and make waiting less of a chore. With that in mind, let’s go over some auto repair shop waiting room ideas.
1. Make a good first impression
When a customer walks into your auto repair shop, the first thing they’ll see is how your building looks from the outside. Make sure there are no signs of damage visible on the walls. That may scare people off and create a negative start for your customer journey.
After that, the first thing they’ll see is your reception area, and they’ll spend a fairly large amount of time waiting there. Here are some things to keep in mind while creating a reception space at your auto shop:
- Size of the room: Your reception room should be adequately sized—it shouldn’t feel cramped or look too large and empty. Plan out your space requirements thoughtfully.
- Furniture: This room should have a desk where a representative of your front office is posted. That person will take care of customers’ needs (such as offering snacks) and update them when their car is ready for pick-up. It’s a good idea to keep comfortable seating or couches so that customers can relax while waiting. Tables are also an essential piece of reception furniture, especially for customers who want to work on their laptops and be productive until they get their car back.
- Decoration: Keep the theme in the waiting area neutral because your customers may not appreciate bright colors. It’s a good idea to showcase your shop’s history and top-performing employees in the waiting room as well. This helps customers know that you invest in your staff and gives them greater insight into your auto shop. Consider keeping indoor plants to add more color to the room too! Remember, a modern auto shop waiting room is an investment for your business. Also, think about adding some informative posters that give customers a good laugh, such as this one (source):
2. Provide all the right amenities
Something as simple as an oil change can take between 30 and 45 minutes, according to Toyota. A full car service can take around 3–4 hours, so it’s important to keep your customers busy during this time. Here are some things you can add to your auto shop waiting room:
- Refreshments: Long wait times and a lack of food are a terrible combination. The last thing you want to do is deal with unhappy customers at your auto repair shop. It’s a good idea to have an easily accessible coffee machine and serve a few snacks to keep your customers well fed. You can also consider buying a vending machine or finding a service provider who will keep it stocked and in good condition.
- Television: A TV playing in the background can serve as a good source of entertainment for your customers. If there’s a concert or a football game at the time, consider playing it for your customers to enjoy.
- Books and magazines: Did you know that even today, 45% of people surveyed bought a printed book compared to 23% who purchased a digital copy? People still prefer reading books, so it might be a good idea to stock up on some from various genres to keep all customers at your shop entertained.
- Play area: Some people might come into your auto repair with their children. Since around 35.4% of car owners are women, it’s a good idea to cater to their needs. Have a small play place with some toys and coloring books to keep children happy.
- Wi-Fi: Access to free Wi-Fi is always a pleasant surprise for customers, especially if it’s high-speed internet! Invest in quality internet that allows users to pass their time on social media or work on a project using their laptops and tablets. Make sure that the Wi-Fi password is easily accessible to anyone who walks into your shop.
3. Keep the waiting room away from the service bays
One of the key considerations while designing a mechanic shop waiting room is restricting customer access to the service bays. Even with the most comprehensive auto repair shop insurance policy, customers shouldn’t have access to the area for two reasons:
- Safety hazards: With all the heavy equipment, harmful materials like chemicals lying around, and moving parts like lift arms, it’s a risk for customers to walk into the bay and potentially injure themselves. Apart from the injury to the customer, such instances can affect your shop’s reputation.
- Damage to equipment: Customers walking into a service bay may step on expensive diagnostic tools and damage them. Most insurance policies won’t cover these losses, as they’re caused by the shop’s neglect. As a result, you’ll bear the cost of addressing these damages.
To maintain transparency, consider installing a soundproof glass wall that allows customers to see your technicians’ service work on their cars.
4. Reduce the waiting time
There’s no point in having a good waiting room if it’s always full. It’s important to cut down the average time your customers spend waiting. Here are some tips:
- Train your staff: How long does it take for customers to have their first interaction with employees at your auto shop? If it’s not the moment they enter, then the process needs work. Customers should immediately be greeted by someone from the front office and assigned a ticket with an estimated time required for the job to be completed.
- Order parts in advance: Auto shop management software makes it easy to stock up using built-in parts ordering functionality. At the time of confirming an appointment, you can quickly see what parts are needed for the job and order accordingly.
- Schedule an adequate number of jobs: Using auto repair shop software, it’s possible to schedule appointments ahead of time and see which customers will come in. You can use this data to ensure that there aren’t more customers’ vehicles in the shop than your techs can handle, which can greatly increase productivity and reduce customer wait times.
It’s important to make the right layout and design decisions from the start—whether you’re buying an auto repair shop or starting one from scratch. Follow the auto shop waiting room ideas highlighted in this article to greatly improve your customer experience. If you’re struggling with finding out how to create the perfect modern auto shop waiting room, consider hiring a professional who can create a mock-up using design software.
Follow these tips to organize your auto repair shop:
- Make a good first impression with your shop entrance
- Provide amenities in your waiting area
- Keep the waiting room away from your service bays
Reducing the waiting time in your repair shop is one great way to become more efficient. To speed up your operations, you should:
- Train your front-office team to greet customers upon arrival
- Order auto repair parts in advance
- Schedule an ambitious yet reasonable number of daily ROs