How to lose customers in one easy lesson....

The example I am illustrating is based on my experience with Armstrong Prestige, a Mercedes-Benz agent in Riccarton Christchurch.

We took our Mercedes SLK320 into Armstrong Prestige on 15 December 2009 for an oil change and to get the brake lights fixed.

This was done, however we had to call them to the parking lot twice because some of the tail lights weren't working, but they made that adjustment.

The real problem was with Armstrong Prestige's account! Of course it is always more than one expects, but that is life. I'm talking about one item on the account which was a "Star Diagnostic Tester"

Now one expects a garage like Armstrong Prestige, particularly a franchised dealer, have all the latest gadgets to help them with their repairs, but I for one do not expect them to charge me $75 for the use of the new latest gadget. This is part of owning a business, and is part of having one of the main car brands, and as part of your overhead.

Now none of us would pay for the use of the hydraulic hoist for them to get under the car, nor would we pay for the spanner to undo the bolts, nor we expect to pay for a telephone call (that is reserved for lawyers invoices), we wouldn't expect to pay for electricity, for use of the waiting room, all these things apart and partial of running a business.

It is in actual fact a feature as to why you should use Armstrong Prestige, instead of going to European car repairs down the street.

Just to check to see if I was on the right track, I checked with my Lexus dealer, and yes they do have the latest gizmo to tell you all about the health of your Lexus, they don't charge for the use of the gizmo, just the time for the technician while he is using it! The Lexus people told me they want to look after their customers and keep them, that is possibly an advantage in purchasing one of the newer brands instead of one of the old Europeans, the newer brands are more concerned with customer service!

Hey! ........this means I paid Armstrong Prestige double! Once for the use of the Star diagnostic tester AND again for the Labour of the technician that used it.

I guess I should count myself lucky that Armstrong Prestige did not charged for all of the other tools.

Armstrong Prestige made the classical mistake of believing that their customers would be happy to pay for their latest gizmo, and of course most will, until somebody points it out to them, their latest gizmo is in actual fact a necessary tool just like the hydraulic hoist and as such is part of their overheads of operating their business and not another excuse to add something on an account.

Of course going into the overhead, the labour costs would need to be adjusted, but then they are charging for Labour every time they use the machine.......

What does this mean to you a butcher, baker, or photographer?

Be extremely careful what you place on your invoice, make sure it is a genuine cost to the customer, film and flashbulbs in the 40s were legitimate costs, however today with digital and electronic flash these two items should be considered as part of your overhead as you would be unable to do the assignment without them.

Of course I for one will not be returning to Armstrong Prestige, I will give my business to a company that sees me as a customer and not somebody with an open cheque-book.


29th of November 2010

Today a very nice young lady from Armstrong Prestige telephoned me to say when I wanted the Mercedes serviced again. I explained to her that after my last dealings with the company it would be a cold day in hell before I step foot again in Armstrong Prestige or in their premises, went on to give her the address of this item on the website, she was of the opinion, the naive little girl, that Rick Armstrong was probably not aware of the problems I had with his company Armstrong Prestige, I said yes often the owner is the last to be told about these things.

About an hour later, the telephone went, and a man announced “ this is Rick Armstrong”,Armstrong Prestige, I said good I had been expecting a call from you, remembering all of the managemental  and business seminars I'd been to in the 20 years I had wandered to and from the States……

........instead he started into me, calling me names, telling me he did not want me to step foot on his premises, (was he expecting a cold day in hell), telling me he did not want me to speak to the staff at Armstrong Prestige, it was her that rang me, telling me I had no concept of how hard he worked, I'm not quite sure of this relevance, then he went on to tell me that I was sacked as a customer, of Armstrong Prestige when I pointed out about the cold day in hell, and I ceased being a customer after my last dealings with Armstrong Prestige he started losing it calling me a @#$%&* &&#$&@@* before he hung up.

I wonder where he went to school.......

I guess he never read Earl Nightingale’s book " How to Win Friends and Influence People ” or Bob Ansett’s book " the Customer ” or any of the other thousands of books on dealing with customer relations.