Government funded entity, Motor Codes, has recently carried out a survey to determine exactly what people think of their local service and repair garage. The results of the study certainly surprised the industry: a whopping 45% of motorists believe that they have been ripped off by a motor trader … that’s over 14 million drivers.

Motor Codes is a self regulatory body that aims to provide a series of best practice codes for garages across the UK. Garages subscribed to the codes of practice will be listed on the Motor Codes website, helping consumers to identify their best local garages. Being on the motor codes register is a great way to show that you’re a responsible garage that is dedicated to customer satisfaction.

Following the motor codes can help motor traders become more successful and more profitable businesses. Greater profits means that costs like motor trade insurance, are all the more manageable. A lot of garages forget about the power of word of mouth. People have a tendency to focus on and talk about their bad experiences over a good experience. A customer that leaves a garage unhappy is likely to let others know. However, it works both ways – great and consistent service creates happy customers that will be willing to recommend their friends to pay a visit next time they need to service their vehicle.

Another way to impress existing and potential customers is through cleanliness. Customers don’t expect the garage office or waiting room to resemble the foyer in The Ritz Hotel, but it is nice to be able to sit down and wait without worrying about the heavy tools dotted around the room or the oil stain on the seat. It’s important to store all tools, parts and paperwork (especially paperwork, as this is a good indication of how well organised a business is!) away from the eyes of your customers.

Another factor that will affect a customer’s opinion of your garage is your guarantees and return policy. Unfortunately sometimes a part is flawed during manufacture, and quite often won’t last a few weeks, let alone the number of miles it was built to stand. If a customer has to pay for a faulty part twice they’re unlikely to rush back to the garage -- labour and replacement parts should be included in a written warranty, even if this requires unique warranties for certain parts.

It is also important to offer written estimates of the repairs that are likely to be carried out on a customer’s vehicle. If the repair is going to exceed the estimated cost, contact the customer for their permission to continue. Good communication with customers has a positive effect and they will be far more likely to return to your garage if they are happy with the overall experience.