It’s one of the most important rules in business - it’s a lot cheaper to keep and grow your existing customers than it is to find new ones.

What’s one of the fastest ways to lose your existing customers? Keep them waiting.

From the time a service customer first calls to the moment they leave with their vehicle, your business is given an opportunity. Will you surprise and delight your customer, moving them quickly and easily through the process? Could you even beat your estimated time of delivery, forging a stronger relationship with the kind of customers who become fans that rave about your business on social media? Or will you make your customer play the waiting game? Will you disappoint, annoy and force your customers to waste their precious time? The more they wait, the more their anger builds. And remember, angry customers are the most vocal and ‘opinion sharing’ customers and the most likely to switch to your competition.

Small differences in wait times can be dramatic and really cost you.

In one study conducted around the fast food industry, professors at Northwestern University (Customer Wait Time) found that each additional second of waiting time at the drive-thru window reduces the amount that customers are prepared to pay for their meals by at least four cents.

Now consider that fast food purchases are just a small fraction of the value of an auto repair service and you can figure out the impact of an extra hour of wait time on your high value customers!

So what are some areas you can focus on to help improve your service wait times?

1) Reduce paper work for key staff. Shuffling through spreadsheets and forms slows response time and increases the chances for scheduling errors.

2) Track waiting times. As they say in quality management, ‘if you can measure it, you can improve it.’ By understanding the amount of time your customers have to wait for different services, you can start to set goals on improving those times.

By optimizing your service scheduling and reducing customer wait times, you can create a key point of difference between your business and your competitors, while turning customers into fans and reducing customer anger. More business, less wasted time and better online reviews. Looks like time really is money.