Worth the Wait - Creating an Inviting Waiting Room

First impressions

From the moment a customer walks through the door, they are making judgments about your shop. Looking for insights into the quality and performance of your business, they’re inspecting every nook and cranny of your operation. They’re not only looking at the service area but also at spots like your waiting room. What kind of the first impression does your waiting room give customers?

You may think to yourself, ‘it’s just a waiting room; what really counts is the quality of my shop’s repair work.’ However, from the check-in area to the service bays, customers like to see a well-organized and tidy shop. If your waiting room suffers from lack of attention, customers may wonder if that inattentiveness extends to the shop floor. Pay attention to your waiting room and customers will pay attention to you.

Waiting in comfort

Whether they’re getting an oil change or a front-end alignment, customers know that waiting for their vehicle is a fact of life. Most people don’t mind waiting if they’re comfortable. Make them feel at home by starting with a few basics.

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Comfortable seating – It’s time to replace those folding chairs with something more inviting. Give customers a plush, comfy chair and they just might take a nap!

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Beverages – Keep your customers hydrated with a beverage station stocked with coffee, tea and bottled water. Consider a Keurig machine for a fresh brew any time of the day.

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Snacks – Keep a selection of snacks on hand. It doesn’t have to be fancy; some granola bars and bagged snacks will keep customers’ hunger at bay.

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Reading material – Stock recent magazines that appeal to a range of interests; think about the different types of customers that come through your doors.

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Entertain them – A TV with cable programming gives your customers something take their mind off waiting. Keep the remote close so they can pick what to watch.

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Free Wi-Fi – Most people have an Internet-capable phone, tablet or laptop. Offer free Wi-Fi to help them stay connected. Prominently post the password so they don’t have to ask for it.

 

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Take it up a notch

Now that you have the basics covered, it’s time to take your shop’s waiting room to the next level. It’s these little details that can take this space from bland and boring to one customer will remember.

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Calming colors – Use a neutral color palette accented by nature or tropical pictures to set a serene scene. Customers will appreciate the tranquil environment.

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Show off your shop – Devote space to highlighting your staff and community involvement. Display pictures, professional certifications and thank you notes.

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Show off your shop – Devote space to highlighting your staff and community involvement. Display pictures, professional certifications and thank you notes.

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Let them watch you – Put a window into the service area and let customers watch you. It reinforces the idea of transparency and builds trust.

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Help them stay productive – Consider putting a desk or table in the service area for those that need to work while they wait. Don’t forget a comfy office chair.

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Don’t forget the kids – Keep your youngest customers happy and occupied with a space just for them stocked with games, toys and coloring books.

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Educate them – Change up your TV schedule - create educational slideshows or videos on basic automotive repair that rotate throughout the day on your TV.

 

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Earn style points

Go beyond the typical corporate décor to make your waiting room something special. Build your waiting room around one of these style elements for a soothing, tranquil environment.

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Water fountain – The sound of running water is an instant relaxer. A wall mounted or tabletop water fountain is a calming presence. 

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Fish tank – Kids as well as adults are mesmerized while watching fish and other sea life. Reduce anxiety with a tank full of colorful fish.

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Electric fireplace – Warm up your waiting room with an electric fireplace. Choose one with a dancing flame for an inviting glow.

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Plants – Add some green to your waiting room with plants. Bonus points if you opt for live greenery!

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Old-fashioned popcorn machine – Besides giving customers something to snack on, the timeless look of a classic popcorn cart is a stylish touch.

 

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Final thoughts

A couple of final thoughts: first, be sure to establish a regular cleaning schedule for your waiting room. Make sure the trash is emptied, floors are cleaned and countertops are wiped down. If your furniture has fabric upholstery, have it professionally cleaned on a regular basis.

To ensure that your waiting room is giving customers a good first impression, take it for a test drive of sorts. Every few months, make it a point to sit in your waiting room as if you were a customer. Is it a space where you wouldn’t mind spending time? Is it warm and inviting? Ask friends and family to come in and serve as testers. Take any suggestions to heart and consider making changes.

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