Customer behaviour is changing: what do we do now?

Customer Behaviour Is Changing

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. Sure, we repair and service vehicles, but without customers there are no cars, no money and no business.

We asked an automotive-specialist business coach, Workshop Whisperer Rachael Sheldrick, for her advice on the best ways workshops can ensure they’re delivering what modern customers want. Here’s what she had to say. 

It starts with a change in mindset 

Ms Sheldrick says the first thing any workshop owner or manager needs to do is open themselves up to new ideas and change. 
“I think you have to have a certain attitude and a certain mindset, to start with, that you are going to be open and be willing to move with the times — no matter how uncomfortable it feels,” she said. 

“The workshop owners who are are stuck in ‘we’ll do it this way because we’ve always done it this way’ are obviously going to be more difficult to change. But as time goes by, there are fewer and fewer of those places around.”  
Make it easy for customers to do business with you 

Customers are increasingly used to convenience, and workshops need to operate in a way that facilitates that. 

“The biggest thing customers are after is the same kind of efficient experience they can receive in other industries,” Ms Sheldrick said. “For example, they can order a coffee using an app and then just go through and pick it up. Consumers are starting to expect that same kind of energy in our workshops. 

“So, for the workshop owners who embrace that kind of forward-thinking mentality, there’s a real opportunity because there’s some great software available that can really bring them to the forefront of what’s possible.”  

Ms Sheldrick suggested looking for automotive industry-specific solutions, like  


Don’t market based on price 

Capricorn’s State of the Nation Report 2020 found 24% of Members thought price-sensitive customers were among the biggest challenges their business faced. This was a particular challenge for tyre and suspension businesses (37%) and auto electricians (32%). 

“It’s not that customers are more price sensitive than they used to be. It’s just that some workshops, through their marketing — whether they’re conscious of it or not — end up targeting price-sensitive people,” Ms Sheldrick said.  

The solution is to change up your marketing messaging and attract different customers. 

“Those people who want to barter or just want an oil and filter change, be happy to let them go somewhere else,” she said.  

“If your message is right to the market, you’re only going to have a very, very small percentage of your customer base that is going to haggle with you or ask for things cheaper.”  

Read more of our marketing tips, here. [Link to: /marketing-tips-for-beating-your-competitors/] 

Sell your experience, expertise and reliability 

Instead, Ms Sheldrick said, realign your marketing messaging so it focuses on the benefits and value you can provide. 

“That’s the difference — people want bang for their buck,” Ms Sheldrick said. 

Here are some other customer-winning qualities you can leverage: 

Exceptional customer service 

Extensive experience 

A great reputation 




Don’t fit customer-supplied parts 

Seventeen per cent of Members told our State of the Nation survey they were concerned about customers supplying their own parts. Ms Sheldrick said most of the businesses she works with refuse to take on the risk of fitting supplied parts.  


You can read more about the costs and risks of fitting customer-supplied parts — and what to do about those parts — in our special report, here. [Link to: /charging-for-customer-supplied-parts/] 


To find out about some of the other challenges facing workshops, as well as the industry’s successes and highlights, you can read the full State of the Nation Report, here. 

This article was published 20/11/2020 and the content is current as at the date of publication.