Customer Service in the Auto Repair Industry: Give Them the Pickle!

The auto repair industry is one that’s inherently built on trust. Vehicles are intricate machines that play vital roles in our daily lives, and finding a reliable mechanic can often be akin to finding a trusted doctor. A major component in fostering this trust is exceptional customer service. But what does exceptional customer service entail? Bob Farrell, a legend in the service industry, provides a profound and simple answer: “Give them the pickle!”

The Pickle Principle

Bob Farrell’s “Give them the pickle” story revolves around a diner who was charged for an extra pickle he’d been getting for free with his sandwiches in the past. This small incident made the diner feel undervalued, leading him to complain. Bob Farrell took this feedback to heart and developed a mantra: If a tiny gesture like giving away a pickle can make a difference in a customer’s experience, then businesses should consistently aim to exceed expectations with these little touches.

For the auto repair industry, the pickle might not be a literal one, but it symbolizes the extra mile that businesses should go to ensure that the customer feels valued.

The Importance of Saying “Yes”

Saying “yes” to customers doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing to all their demands. Instead, it’s about finding a solution-oriented approach to problems or requests. When a customer comes into an auto repair shop, they often come with a problem or a need. They might not know the technicalities of the issue, but they understand the inconvenience it’s causing them.

Here are ways the auto repair industry can adopt the principle of saying “yes”:

  • Active Listening: Often, customers just want to be heard. Understanding the root of their concern and demonstrating genuine empathy can go a long way in establishing rapport and trust.
  • Flexible Solutions: Sometimes a customer might not be able to afford a complete repair. Instead of a flat-out refusal, shops can offer alternative, temporary solutions or payment plans, aiming to help the customer within their constraints.
  • Educate, Don’t Patronize: It’s crucial to explain issues in a manner that’s understandable without making the customer feel inferior. By educating them on the problem and the solution, you’re empowering them to make informed decisions.
  • Surprise and Delight: Like the pickle, sometimes it’s the unexpected gestures that make a difference. This could be as simple as a free car wash after a service, a discount coupon for their next visit, or just remembering their name and past concerns.


In the auto repair industry, technical expertise is undeniably crucial. Still, without top-tier customer service, even the most proficient repair shop can find itself struggling. By embracing Bob Farrell’s “Give them the pickle!” philosophy and consistently finding ways to say “yes” to customers, auto repair businesses can ensure they not only attract but also retain loyal customers for the long run.



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