How many times have you been elbow deep in an engine, or in just the right twisted position up under a car, only to hear the phone ringing, the door chiming, or otherwise find that something in the shop needs your attention? Timing is never on your side, and sure enough, as soon as you get involved in a repair, everything else is going to want attention. We know what you’re thinking—well, there’s a few of us in the shop so it’s not so bad.
“Not so bad” isn’t good enough. If you want your business to thrive, you need good solutions for communications and taking care of your customers. One of the best things you can do is to hire a receptionist. They’re a modern Jack-of-all-trades who can handle just about any task assigned to them. And best of all, they’ll always be available to anyone who needs them because that’s their entire job. No more divided attention for your customers and leads, and no more juggling jobs for you.
Choosing the right receptionist involves thinking about what your repair shop needs most. This is the first point of contact for many visitors and potential customers, as well as your existing customers, vendors, suppliers, and others. They are responsible for making the best first impression and the best impression every single time after that. It’s a tall order, but with the right person on the job, it shouldn’t be difficult to do.
imagine having a friendly face to greet people, even just over the phone, so that they’re less frazzled from the moment the call is answered? Car repairs are stressful. One of the best ways you can help reduce that stress is to have friendly help waiting. What about middle-of-the-night mishaps and breakdowns? Perhaps you don’t offer 24-hour service, but you want a way for your regular customers to reach out and let you know that they need your services.
This just a sampling of what the right receptionist can do for your car repair shop. You should be busy fixing cars or handling other things, not answering calls and making appointments. Let’s talk about the most important considerations in getting the right receptionist for your repair shop’s needs.
You’re on a budget, we know. We also understand how important it is for you to get the most for your money. That’s why we’ve done our best to answer this question, but we can’t say much about outsourcing and hiring third-party services except that they generally cost a fraction of what it would cost to hire an employee and the best services will be transparent about their rates and services.
If you’re looking to go the route of hiring an employee to sit at the front desk or run the desk remotely, you’ll expect to spend about $12-$13 per hour on an entry-level receptionist, and up to $15 per hour or more for someone with more experience or dedicated automotive expertise. Of course, that’s in addition to benefits that you provide, overhead costs, training and onboarding costs, and other expenses related to having an employee.
Currently, the Society for Human Resource Management reports it is around $4,000, on average, to hire an employee in the U.S. That covers many of the things we listed above, as well as sourcing candidates, and so forth. If you don’t have that kind of cash flow, outsourcing may be your only option. However, you should make sure that you consider all the angles to ensure that you’re making the best decision.
Being prepared means knowing what you should expect to spend. Budgeting will be an important part of your plan to hire a receptionist or invest in contract services. Even if you can’t nail down the exact cost of a service, you should at least be able to ask them for a ballpark idea of what you’ll spend based on what you need.
Speaking of outsourcing, let’s talk about how you can decide to go this route (besides the obvious budget constraints). This depends largely on what your car repair shop needs. There are some instances where outsourcing is the better option. Then, there are other instances where shops need to have a person sitting at the desk and providing services to clients and other visitors.
Think about what your shop needs. What’s within your means? Can you even afford to hire an employee, now that you know how much that costs? Perhaps your budget is more limited, so you’ll have to start with outsourcing. Don’t worry, though, because you can still get some impressive help this way.
You’ll also want to consider what services or solutions you seek in a receptionist. It doesn’t matter if there’s a full-service agency out there with low rates on bundled services if you only need one or two of the services in the first place. That’s just one example of how it could impact your decision to look at the types of services that you need as compared to what they each cost.
Another benefit of outsourcing is that you’ll gain access to better talent because you can hire people from all over the place. You are no longer limited to the people who are nearby or those within a specific region, thanks to the Internet. You can hire the right person for the job with peace of mind that they’re the right fit.
Do you have time to manage someone and make sure things get done? Hiring a receptionist is supposed to make things easier for your business. If you’re constantly chasing them down or having to follow up with them to ensure things get done, receptionists can quickly become more of a hassle than they’re worth for many.
Again, there’s no set formula for deciding what’s going to be best for your company when it comes to sourcing a receptionist. However, when you consider these factors, it should be much easier to determine the best way to proceed.
While “hard” skills like software and hardware competency are useful, this is a position where soft skills are far more valuable. After all, you can teach someone about your car repair shop and help them learn industry terms so that they can provide the answers that callers and visitors need. You cannot teach someone to be personable or detail-oriented.
When you’re in the market for a receptionist, no matter how you’re sourcing them, look for people who are:
Your receptionist doesn’t necessarily need to know how to troubleshoot engine misfirings on an F-150, but they should also have some basic knowledge of cars so that they can at least direct calls and take messages appropriately. Of course, much of this can be learned on the job, but you’ll want to ensure that you choose someone who’s a quick study so that you don’t spend too much time on training and getting them prepared for their role.
Your repair shop deserves the best help. Although we’ve covered a lot in a short period, it’s fairly easy to remember. To close, let’s go over some of the most common questions that people have about hiring a receptionist and their answers. Get ready to take notes because these quick answers will get you started on the right path in no time.
As discussed earlier, there’s not just one price to put on this role. If you hire an hourly employee, you’ll spend around $12-$14 per hour for entry-level help and approximately $14-$15 per hour for those with special certifications, extensive experience, or other perks. If you outsource, you could spend far less on a contractor or third-party receptionist service, so consider those routes if your budget is tight. You’ll want to look at more than just rates, too, because service is far more important in this decision.
It is good to hire a receptionist whenever you need one. Even if your business has been around for a while, but you just realized that you should have help, getting a receptionist sooner than later is always best. Hire them to handle tasks as soon as possible so that your business doesn’t fall further behind than necessary in the meantime.
Although it would be helpful, it’s not necessarily essential for your receptionist to know anything about repairs, vehicles, or anything of the like. After all, they can do their best to answer things as they come up and then refer to you for anything else that’s too industry-specific or that requires dedicated attention. Your receptionist should know your business, inside and out, but their expertise in this field is not required to use them as a receptionist.
Many people today are considering outsourcing by hiring a virtual receptionist. This is an ideal solution for many because it offers all the services of a receptionist (and often more) at a fraction of the cost of hiring an hourly employee. They work remotely and will be able to deliver all of the solutions that a business needs, including answering calls and messages, fielding live chats, and so much more. They are more affordable, and their services are more scalable because they are virtual, or remote.
There are a lot of different things that you have to do in a day. Fielding phone calls and handling other admin tasks shouldn’t be on that list. When you partner with Smith.ai, they don’t have to be. The dedicated virtual receptionists here will work with you to create a dynamic strategy to manage communications and admin tasks, no matter what you have in mind.
Our 24/7 agents are available for live website chat, after-hours phone answering, scheduling and lead intake, and even Facebook and SMS message answering, plus so much more. We’ll craft a personalized strategy for your shop so that your time is freed up and your customers never feel like they can’t get in touch with you.
To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your car repair shop, from handling calls and chats to admin duties and more. You will also find us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 727-6484.
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Contact us at (650) 727-6484 or schedule a call.