I recently sat in on a presentation and the topic of reputation management came up. In the online visual world that we live in our reputation is being shown everywhere. If you stop and think about it, we have spent our entire lives managing our reputations. We are taught not to lie and steal at a young age as nobody wants that reputation. Structure and discipline are introduced and we are required to stay within the rules or you get the reputation as a trouble maker.
Peer pressure comes into play and certain reputations become desirable. Who did not want to hang out with the cool kids? Trouble is easy to find if you look for the right reputation to ask. As we settle into our professional lives we tend to want our reputation to be based on core qualities that show we do the right thing. That is a lot of where the confidence of purchasing a used part comes from. The customer knowing that you do the right thing and provide them with value.
We take a number of things for granted in our business reputations. The fact that we are professional business people that are active in the community is often overlooked. We think that everyone in town knows who we are and where we are located. That is often not true. We live in a transient world that has people moving around a lot. The places they live run together and who the local auto recycler is tends to be a low priority to them.
Earth Day is celebrated every year but every day is Earth Day to us. We provide a big service to the community and seldom get credit for it. One of the things that will enhance your reputation is publicizing some of the environmental things that you do. Recycling batteries, aluminum wheels and convertors are cool things we do. We have financial incentives but showing people the proper way to save the environment is not a bad thing.
The only way to win an argument with a customer is to not have the argument in the first place. We all have horror stories about customers. The fact is they are a small minority of the transactions we have. The bulk of our customers look at what people say and take both the good and bad with a grain of salt. The bad is made worse by arguing why it was the customers fault. Fixing the problem to the best of the company’s ability is what most customers are looking for. You grow your online reputation that way and not by telling the world why a certain person was a bad customer. Remember that regardless of what most of us do for a living, we have all had good and bad customer service when there was a problem. It is always easy and usually not memorable when it goes as everyone expected. The opportunity to shine normally presents itself through some form of adversity.
In addition to taking ownership of the problem, actively pursue positive feedback. After all multiple good things said ultimately trump a bad thing here and there. A small sample of bad reviews indicates that you are human and everyone makes mistakes. It is how the mistakes are handled that make a difference.
The appearance of our facility has a lot to do with reputation also. There is a reason why they say you only have one chance to make a first impression. Being a professional in everything we do should be important. Keeping a certain amount of order to what we do makes sense on many fronts. In addition to reputation, the employees feel better and it is a safer environment. People getting hurt and injured is a fact of what we do. The cuts and bruises are part of the normal daily grind of processing vehicles. Serious injuries often result from carelessness of a sloppy environment. All of these things can add up to a reputation that is not positive.
In the end, we need to remember that we are always working on protecting and enhancing our reputation. Our professional lives depend on us being good business people. I will stake my reputation on that.
Mike Kunkel Bill Stevens
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