What I Want from an Automotive Repair Shop: A Millennial’s Perspective

How does your auto repair shop cater to the needs of millennials? What tactics do you deploy to win over this essential target market?

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In a webinar hosted by Autoleap, a leading automotive repair software, Sarah Fraser, Creative Director at Haas Performance Consulting, covered these topics in detail. During the webinar session, Fraser discussed:

  • Common assumptions about millennials (and alternative ways to think about these assumptions)
  • What millennials want from an auto repair shop (and what they don’t)

But first, let’s get to know millennials better and understand why they are so crucial to the success of auto repair shops.

What is a millennial and what do they mean to auto repair shops?

Fraser identifies millennials as the generation of people ranging from ages 26-41.

Consisting of 1.8 billion humans worldwide, millennials make up 43% of the modern workforce. Aggregate the group’s annual income, and you come out to a projected $4 trillion by 2030.

With these staggering numbers, it’s safe to say the impact of millennials on business can’t be ignored.

So what does this all mean for auto repair shops?

From a sales and marketing perspective, auto repair shops need to spend time learning about the needs of the millennial generation. This target audience will make up the vast majority of customers who schedule appointments for auto repair service.

With a thoughtful plan in place, you can attract more millennial customers to your business and generate new revenue opportunities.  But to get started, you will need to study and even challenge the most common assumptions made about millennials.

Common Assumptions About Millennials

Assumption 1 - Millennials need rewards

Fraser acknowledges a common thought that millennials always need rewards and recognition for their achievements. After all, this generation is the first to grow up receiving participation awards at sporting events.

For millennials, even a simple “good job” for the successful work project they completed goes a long way. So as an auto repair shop, how do you cater your business to this expectation?

Fraser recommends small acts of kindness, like complimenting the condition of a customer’s car during their appointment.

These minor gestures go a long way towards making millennials feel appreciated. “Rewarding your customers is massive for loyalty. I’m not going to look for another shop when I go to this place, they take care of me, they compliment me, and they treat me well,” says Fraser.

Assumption 2 - Millennials are lazy

Have you heard this one before?

Fraser says this assumption about the millennial generation conflicts with her own experiences. She uses her own friend group as an example, highlighting their ability to juggle multiple jobs and life responsibilities at once.

So as an auto repair shop owner, how can you view this assumption in a different light?

Fraser recommends thinking about millennials as:

  • Highly adaptive 
  • Multi-taskers 
  • Team players
  • Tech-savvy 
  • Resourceful

Start to put extra thought into these descriptions and consider catering your auto service experience to each characteristic.

Assumption 3 - Millennials are entitled

This assumption, which Fraser describes as a misconception, comes up quite often in public discourse.

Fraser says she thinks about the mentalities of millennials in a different way. In her view, millennials:

  • Carry a heightened sense of confidence 
  • Take pride in achievements 
  • Feel a strong drive to achieve more

According to Fraser, this assumption likely comes from millennials’ childhoods. As kids, parents told millennials they can reach for the stars and become whatever they want to be.

So how does this all relate to auto repair shops? Similar to the aspirations that millennials have for themselves, they carry this “above and beyond” expectation into customer service settings.

“A lot of (millennials) have worked in customer service at some point and bent over backwards to help customers. As a customer, we sort of expect that in return,” says Fraser.

By putting additional effort into making their visit exceptional from start to finish, you will distinguish your business from competing auto repair shops.

Assumption 4 - Millennials kill industries

You’ve heard the narrative before. Millennials love to pivot their consumption habits from one niche to another, damaging entire industries in the process.

But this story is less about industry slights and more about seeking out experience, according to Fraser.

Take the beer industry for example. With the rise of craft beer, millennials prefer the experience of visiting breweries with friends to sample different IPAs, pilsners, and stouts. Domestic breweries, despite their brand name recognition, can’t compete with this social engagement from grocery store shelves and gas station fridges.

So why is this relevant for auto repair shops? Millennials value experience above all else.  “What a millennial wants is an experience. And millennials are willing to pay more for that experience,” says Fraser.

Keep each of these alternatives to common assumptions in mind as we transition our focus to the key qualities that millennials look for in an auto repair shop.

What Millenials Want from an Automotive Repair Shop -

1. Transparent Reviews

Millennials will always take time to learn about your business before scheduling an appointment. And nothing will factor more into their decision to become a customer than reviews.

To generate good reviews: 

  • Ask your customers: When appropriate during positive interactions with customers, ask them to leave a Google review

  • Run marketing campaigns: Marketing software like AutoLeap exists to automate the process of requesting Google reviews when a customer’s service appointment concludes.

  • Respond to positive reviews: When your customer writes you a thoughtful note, write back! But don’t just copy and paste a templated response. Write a genuine thank you, keep the note personable, and call out something specific to make them feel appreciated

Alternatively, to address negative reviews:

  • Keep your response professional: Before you click post, consider what potential customers would think of your transparency and tone 


  • Take ownership: Own up to any mistakes your team made and take accountability for fixing the situation


  • Don’t play the blame game: Avoid emotional responses that turn the blame around on your customers. This will come off as a major red flag for millennials reading your reviews

2. Ability to Book Online

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Don’t offer an option to book an auto repair appointment online? According to Fraser, most millennials will quickly move on.

“Picking up the phone to make an appointment is not something (millennials) want to do. We want to be able to do it online,” says Fraser.

The easier you make it to schedule an appointment, the more likely she’ll come in, Fraser adds.

Here’s how to accommodate your customers’ appointment scheduling preferences:

  • Ask their preferred communication method: Do they want to receive a call, email, or text? Many millennials prefer texts for the extra time they have to respond and the documented paper trail they create

  • Respect their preference: If they prefer a text message, stick to this type of communication despite your impulse to follow up with a call

3. Offer Subscription Service

For auto repair shops, this accommodation might be tricky to pull off. But according to Fraser, subscription models are still worth considering.

These days, millennials subscribe to everything from streaming channels to make-up kits, gym memberships, and even dog care packages.

If you can incorporate a monthly service fee into your auto repair shop that covers a vehicle’s complete maintenance needs, millennials may choose this option for ultimate convenience.

4. Embrace Technology

Millennials love tech. So should your auto repair shop.

Invest in auto repair shop management software to send push notifications for service reminders, enable customers to pay bills online, and offer countless other service experience functions. This will make life much easier for your millennial customer base, increasing the odds they remain loyal customers.

“The easier you can make it for me, the more likely I am to come in,” says Fraser.

You may even choose to develop your own mobile app, an expensive but worthwhile investment.

Don’t forget to also incorporate auto repair loyalty programs in your technology experience. Millennials will appreciate the extra incentives you provide.

5. Create an “Instagram-Worthy Experience”

How would millennials currently respond to an Instagram photo of your waiting area?

If that question causes you to tense up, it’s time to invest in modernizing your facility.

From Snapchat to Instagram, millennials want to feel comfortable sharing their day-to-day experiences with friends. And trips to your auto repair shop for an appointment still fit into that posting schedule.

It’s time to make your service experience stand out for social media. To upgrade, Fraser suggests:

  • Adding a unique flashing sign or art piece in the waiting room (that customers can pose with)
  • Investing in popular snacks, drinks, and lounge entertainment
  • Cleaning EVERYTHING
  • Installing a cool coffee bar

“The nicer it looks, the cleaner it is, the more likely we are to take photos and share that information with other people,” says Fraser.

These suggestions may sound costly, but they go a long way towards attracting loyal millennial customers and generating social buzz for your auto repair business.

What Millennials Don’t Want from an Auto Repair Shop

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Improve your initial write-up process

Now to the negatives. In her webinar presentation, Fraser briefly touched on some of the top red flags that millennials remain wary of when seeking out auto repair shops.

She advises:

  • Don’t talk “tech” to me: Millennials don’t understand fancy auto repair terms like DVI and diagnostics. Explain your work on their vehicle in simple language, unless they prefer more technical terms
  • Remain mindful of cancel culture: You aren’t immune to viral moments as a small business. Go over what is appropriate conduct with your employees and immediately address any inappropriate behavior you see or hear about
  • Show me, don’t tell me: Millennials won’t know what their brakes should look like. To give them an idea of the difference, send them side-by-side photos comparing the current condition to your technicians’ expectations
  • Avoid email clutter: Some millennials still prefer the old fashioned experience of receiving physical mail, according to Fraser. So avoid cluttering email inboxes and opt for a personable direct mail shipment. But a word of caution: Fraser recommends avoiding “spammy” messaging in the physical mail you send out, as it may come off as deceiving

Closing thoughts

In 10 years, most customers that pass through your business doors will belong to the millennial generation. As an auto repair shop owner, it’s critical to challenge your common assumptions about how this target audience thinks and what they value.

Study up on the millennial preferences outlined in this webinar session, cater your service to these evolved customer needs, and watch your profits skyrocket.

Auto Repair Shop Management Software

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