YouTube was founded on February 14, 2005 in an office above a pizzeria in San Mateo, California. One year later it was one of the fastest growing sites on the internet. Today, over 45% of smartphone users access YouTube. People access YouTube not only for entertainment; they visit to learn how to tie a tie, remove ingrown hairs, clean clogged drains, or how to safely shear sheep in the springtime.
Unfortunately, they also pour over YouTube to learn how to find the source of fluids emanating from their vehicle instead of paying you to fix the problem. While there is nothing inherently wrong with YouTube, and there is a wealth of information there, the downside is when those watching it think that they can fix anything, anytime.
Professional technician’s forums contain horror stories about customers telling shop owners: you’re charging too much, someone on YouTube did that job in 15 minutes.
As one technician has put it: “YouTube and Google are just another tool to use, but it’s a tool that can pinch your fingers mighty hard if you don’t know what you are doing to start with.” Professional technician’s forums contain horror stories about customers telling shop owners “you’re doing the job wrong. I saw the right way to do it on YouTube”, or, “you’re charging too much, someone on YouTube did that job in 15 minutes.” There are even occasions when a customer will insist on changing one part out, without a diagnostic, because of DIY YouTube videos. It’s no surprise that those customers frequently get upset if the work is done as requested and it doesn’t fix their car!
“ Professional technician’s forums contain horror stories about customers telling shop owners: you’re charging too much, someone on YouTube did that job in 15 minutes.”
Your automotive repair customers visit YouTube for several potential reasons: to save money, to be self-sufficient, to help a friend or family member out, or too much free time.
You’re not going to stop them from using YouTube and you’re not going to put YouTube out of business. If you educate yourself on what drives your customers to YouTube, learn the upsides and downsides of DIY YouTube auto repairs, and develop a strategy to educate your customers on the value of having a professional do the work, you will retain profitable service work while improving your customer’s perceptions of you and our industry.
First, let us delve into the field of psychology. There is a name for the behavior that leads the untrained to think that they can do complex auto repairs after watching a three-minute video. The name: the Dunning–Kruger effect. Per Wikipedia: “David Dunning wrote about his observations that people with substantial, measurable deficits in their knowledge or expertise lack the ability to recognize those deficits and therefore, despite potentially making error after error, tend to think they are performing competently when they are not: "In short, those who are incompetent, for lack of a better term, should have little insight into their incompetence.”
Thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, some of your customers don’t know their limitations. Part of your job is to educate them on the problems they may face when attempting to do their own automotive repair.
So, what could go wrong? A lot. Starting with failure to plan for contingencies such as:
- Rust and corrosion preventing disassembly
- Misdiagnosis leading to replacing good parts
- Repairs not possible without the car being on a lift
- Need for special tools
- Risks of personal injury or property damage
- Local laws preventing repair work at home
- Fines from improper handling of hazardous materials
- “Opportunity cost” of DIY repair (time away from family or hobbies)
So much can go wrong when the person on the street attempts automotive repairs. As with any automotive repair, they must consider potential hazards.
And when the Dunning-Kruger effect reaches maximum potential, you may observe results like these:
Your customers need to ask themselves, “Do I feel lucky?” You don’t need to scare them – but you do need to inform them. If you do it respectfully (you probably shouldn’t tell them about Dunning-Kruger), you’ll give them the information they need to determine if car repair is something they want to tackle. Think of it as Informed Consent.
Your customers should also consider the need to have OE-level service information when doing diagnosis or repairs. To educate, you need credibility. Your credibility, and that of your business, comes from building relationships.
Your next move
Even in this YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, texting world, personal relationships matter.
Your first effort should be to build strong relationships with your community. If you’re already doing that, do it more. If you are not, start now. Figure out your personality; are you an introvert or extrovert? This will guide you in how best to proceed. For some, small face-to-face gatherings work best. For others, teaching an evening class on vehicle maintenance is their best course of action. Sponsoring a local kids’ sports team is another opportunity for building relationships within your community.
Fight fire with fire
If customers are watching YouTube (and you are losing business because of it), consider using social media to build relationships, communicate, and educate. Whether you realize it or not, you have a “brand” and every company needs to build brand-awareness. Videos shared on YouTube or Facebook are cheap to make and if properly targeted and keyworded, are great business-builders. As you might have guessed, there are videos on how to make videos for a small business.
Here are some marketing topics you may want to research:
- Marketing an auto repair business (Watch the ALLDATA Webinar: Google’s Best Practices for Marketing Your Shop)
- Small business video marketing
- Using keywords on YouTube to get more views
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media for Auto Repair Businesses
Your videos and postings should focus on the value that you provide to your community and the need for quality repair work. Again, we are not trying to scare people. We are trying to inform them.
Properly made YouTube videos, Instagram photos, and Facebook postings can build your business. This will happen only by building relationships in your community, educating your customers (or potential customers) respectfully, and demonstrating the value of professionally performed automotive repairs.
Your customers are already watching YouTube. Use this to your benefit. Build relationships, build trust, and use the power of social media to build your business.