Independent Auto Service Shops Top Chains For Customer Satisfaction

Independent Auto Service Shops Top Chains For Customer Satisfaction

To the growing list of business sectors in which neitral studies demonstrate independent businesses provide superior value, we now can add auto repair and maintenance. The February 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine presented results from a survey of 40,000 subscribers about their service experiences with independent auto service shops, nearly 20 manufacturer-branded facilities, and 15 chain or franchised facilities. (Though many franchises are owned locally, the survey grouped these entities together.

Customers graded service received based on timeliness, price, quality of work and their treatment. Independent repair shops left most of the competition in the dust with an average score of 90, while chain repair shops’ grades ranged from 79 to 88, and dealer repair centers ranged from 75 to 83. To ensure apples-to-apples comparisons, the survey asked people for their experiences only with non-warranty repairs.

Lexus and Volvo tied for the top score among dealers at 83, while Goodyear and Jiffy Lube topped the ratings of chain and franchised service outlets at 88. Consumer Reports offers the detailed score breakdown (not available online as of writing). 

About 70% of auto repairs are performed at independent providers, according to Tony Molla, Vice President of the Automotive Service Association. Molla says the Consumer Reports survey aligns with private Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) surveys over the years. “The strength of the independent repair community has always been the personal connections they make with their customers,” said Molla.

Along with the personal attention local owners are more likely to offer, Molla credits the value of independents to their investments in training employees and lower employee turnover.

When asked about national warranties, the only reason many people sometimes opt to visit chain repair shops, Molla notes that nationwide warranties are offered by many ASA member businesses. He suggests inquiring first about warranty terms if you often drive far from home. 

One caveat on the Consumer Reports story: their chart plots NAPA and AAA certified repair centers as though they are chains, but these are almost all independent businesses that choose to associate to gain branding power and associated benefits. While those shops scored well (87 for each, they were slightly lower-rated than unaffiliated independent repair shops. Many auto dealerships also are locally-owned franchises.

Tip: When sharing this post on your social media, tag a few of the best independent service shops in your area!

New Report: Community Pharmacists Beat Chains in Every Measure of Service

New Report: Community Pharmacists Beat Chains in Every Measure of Service

Last year, the Consumers Union published research showing independent pharmacies consistently sold prescription drugs for less than any U.S. pharmacy chain (see Independent Pharmacies Save You Big Money Over Chains). Now a new survey of more than 78,000 people shows independent pharmacists also outperformed the chains in every other measure! And it wasn’t a close contest.

Independents were rated superior in:

  • Helpfulness
  • Cleanliness
  • Courtesy
  • Accuracy
  • Knowledge of Pharmacists
  • Speed (both in fulfilling prescriptions and checkout)

The only surprise to AMIBA staff was just how poorly the specialty drug chains rated — well below not only independents but almost every supermarket and big box discounter with a pharmacy counter (the few exceptions: Safeway and Walmart scored lower than Rite Aid and Walgreens).

The survey also indicated the lower prices charged for common prescription drugs at community pharmacies are compounded by their knowledge and willingness to help customers find the best deal. Independent pharmacists were more than twice as likely to suggest a less expensive option than their chain counterparts.

The Consumers Union story includes several pieces of helpful advice,  including: “At least once a year, sit with your pharmacist for a complete medication review, a 15-minute checkup of everything you take, including vitamins, herbals, and over-the-counter drugs, along with any prescription medications. That can help you eliminate duplicate or unnecessary drugs.”

While this is a reasonable suggestion for people doing business with a community pharmacist, we’re eager to publish the findings of anyone who tries this at a large drug store chain!

 

 

“Independent pharmacists were more than twice as likely to suggest a less expensive option than their chain counterparts.”

The report also includes notable anecdotes about the service offered by local pharmacies, including Milwaukee‘s Hayat Pharmacy, which has staff who collectively can serve customers in 19 different languages among it’s several stores!

Finally, the survey found personal attention was far more than lip service at indie pharmacies: a majority of customers said their community pharmacist “knows me by name” — compared to just 14% of chain customers who said this.

The full report by Lisa Gill appears in the March issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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Steps to Making Your Meetings an “Oh, Yes” Experience

Steps to Making Your Meetings an “Oh, Yes” Experience

We’re often asked for key elements of building a successful local business coalition. The questioner typically seeks a masterful campaign theme, event idea, or policy initiative that attracts media attention and supporters. While those are all great aspirations, the truth is less exciting. Powerful organizations build from the soil of effective fundamentals like good budgeting, record-keeping and even effective meetings.

Productive meetings are based in sound planning and discipline that builds a culture of success, teamwork and a feeling of forward movement.


Prepare and Share in Advance an Agenda to Clearly Identify What Will Be Accomplished

What do people need to read, learn or consider to come prepared? Draft and share the agenda as a Google Doc or your preferred cloud-based platform* and embed links to any useful reference material, conference call link, budget, etc. identify who is responsible for leading discussion on any item, what will be decided and any tasks that need to be taken on.

Assigning different people to lead on individual agenda items helps keep the meeting engaging and incentivizes people to be better prepared. Here’s a sample agenda based on AMIBA’s own template.


Have a Regular Note-taker and Back-up

Recording conversations, assignments and decisions accurately is a vital function, and for board meetings, a legal requirement.


The Facilitator Is Key

Training in facilitation is a valuable experience worth investing in for board members. Your facilitator should be:

  • organized, prepared and punctual
  • able to distinguish between her/his role as moderator and participant and not use moderating power to steer group to a preferred outcome
    comfortable in halting diversions, rambling, dominance and other actions that threaten a productive meeting
  • able to clearly summarize decisions and assignments. Drawing out participation from less vocal people also is a vital skill.


Respect

Create the clear expectation that meetings start and stop on time. Allowing meetings to be delayed for stragglers punishes those who respect colleagues’ time.


Right-size It

We see too many groups convene meetings of their entire board and discuss matters that don’t interest many people. Use narrowly-focused work groups to do most work and reserve the full board’s attention for necessary input or decision-making.


Choose the Right Venue

Choose a venue that allows participants to hear and focus. Outdoors meeting often inspire creativity when conditions permit.


Silence the Phones and Close Personal Email

‘Nuf said.


Don’t Allow Meeting Time to be Used for Explaining Things that Could Be Shared via Email or Documents

If items need to be read or viewed prior to the meeting, make that clear in the agenda and don’t take meeting time enabling a person who fails to do so unless it’s unavoidable.


Review

Repeat decisions and commitments before concluding. Each participant should have at least one “to-do” before you meet next to promote engagement and the feeling of shared workload.


Conclude (on time!) with a piece of good news or possibility

Send meeting notes as soon after the meeting as possible, while the discussion is fresh in people’s memories and they can add or clarify if needed. Adding notes to the existing meeting agenda document simplifies things. Make sure decided actions are clear.

Meetings are rarely the right forum to share information — that should be done pre-meeting by email, forums, etc. Use your meetings for discussion not conducive to email and to make decisions. Meetings should occur only when necessary. So while it may make sense to schedule a bi-monthly meeting, look for occasions to cancel them, or substitute a social gathering.


After the Meeting

Identify any problems that occurred to address them before the next meeting and consider any changes that would reduce absenteeism, lack of follow-through or other issues.


What to Avoid

Meetings are rarely the right forum to share information — that should be done pre-meeting by email, forums, etc. Use your meetings for discussion not conducive to email and to make decisions. Meetings should occur only when necessary. So while it may make sense to schedule a bi-monthly meeting, look for occasions to cancel them, or substitute a social gathering.