Dear Plaza Motors,
Why do you make it so hard to do business with you? Do you really have enough business? If you'd like to have more business, one simple change to your service model would go a long way to making customers feel more welcome.
Last time I called for service, it took half an hour to get someone on the phone. Once I got someone, she had to contact two different departments to price the work I was asking about. She called back two hours later with an estimate. Total time to get an estimate: 2.5 hours (150 minutes).
NTB answered the phone immediately and got me an estimate on the spot. Total time: 10 minutes. FIFTEEN times faster.
You have two related problems here:
1) It takes customers too long to get a price and make a decision. By the time you called back, I'd already found an acceptable price and taken the car elsewhere.
2) It takes your staff too long to answer simple inquiries. Because they are tied up, your customer-facing staff is stretched too thin. It takes half an hour to get someone on the phone, feeding back into problem 1.
You don't need to add staff to fix these problems. A simple upgrade to your systems will do the trick. And I do mean simple. Excel simple. Google Docs simple. Not Oracle, not SPSS, not even Access.
Let's break the problem down a little more. I called asking about simple work: some new brake pads and some regular transmission maintenance. Your rep had to call the parts and labor departments to get prices. Why? I don't drive anything exotic. I see the same model on the roads all the time. I know I'm not the only one who needs brake pads. So, why does your rep need to call two different departments like this is the first time anyone ever asked for brake pads on C class?
The solution is simple: put together a price list of common maintenance tasks and repairs. It can be an Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc. I call for brake pads, the rep looks at the spreadsheet, I have a price, and I'm back off the phone in 10 minutes.
It doesn't have to be a complete list. I'm betting car maintenance is Pareto. I bet 80% of your work is on just a few things. Get those high-volume items priced once and now your rep is free to spend more time with face-to-face customers or pricing out the really sticky stuff.
Prices for labor and parts change indepedently over time? Use two columns and add them together. Run a pricing exercise once a quarter.
ANYTHING is better than re-pricing brake pads and transmission service every time someone calls. Somehow, some way, pull together a price list. You'll have more business, happier customers, and a happier, less-audibly-stressed staff.
If you really have enough business, this still applies. You should be raising prices or expanding your facilities, not filtering customers out through poor experience. Even customers who aren't price-sensitive are sensitive to other factors, like time and annoyance.
It wouldn't hurt if you could get oil changes done in half an hour (like Valvoline) instead of three hours either, but that's another post.