Editor's comment

Make sure you don't breakdown relationships

Published:  30 April, 2015

I had the misfortune of breaking down recently, twice in fact. Being a member of a breakdown recovery service stood me well, the first time I was back on the road within 10 minutes and the second I was on the back of a truck within an hour.

The second time did raise an interesting question, however. The front right track-rod end on the ST170 had broken, the steering arm coming away and the wheel not turning. The guy who attended asked me which garage I would like to be taken to. In any other location this would have been a simple 'I don't know' answer and let them choose. However, I recently moved, the area is new and I wanted the car to go somewhere I may use again. Unfortunately, he didn't know the area as he was covering but thankfully the garage I picked based on proximity then came recommended by colleagues. The car was repaired the following day and I'm happy with the service.

This got me thinking how customers really pick their garages? You'll have noticed in the magazine and online recently a number of articles about consumers who value quality over cost or vice versa, word of mouth is important too. Yet what about circumstance? That is the real time an impression can be made, when the customer is not expecting to need a repair. Taking in a last minute booking, sympathising with them and staying in constant contact, these are things that can get them coming back, having been grateful for your help. Being a member of a breakdown service can also aid that, the guys at the garage I was taken to knew the truck driver well.

Again I can empathise, a few years back I suffered a breakdown and limped to a side street. Not then a member of a breakdown organisation, I called one and was told it would be £150 to come out and tow my car to a garage. I asked them to call me back - I'm still waiting - and wandered down the road to a tyre shop, where luckily there was a garage next door. As I booked the car in, a truck from the same breakdown company turned into the forecourt and the receptionist told me they were a preferred garage. So £150 to tow my car 100 yards? That's why I'm with who I'm with now! Be helpful in a driver's hour of need and they'll remember you.

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