As it appeared in the daily nation of September 29th 2015
by Lucy Kiruthu
Roger Smith and Sons was my ideal Auto Service station. All I needed to do was sit back, relax and expect a call to remind me that the car was due for service. An outstanding vehicle service history was maintained and the team was great at what they did. I recall they had a 4-point check-up and 9-point check-up at alternating services. That was about 10 years ago. Fast forward to today, I can write a book about my experiences with many automotive service providers. Many other motor vehicles owners have not one but many stories about their experience too. Most of these stories depict poor service or absolutely ugly incidences in the hands of motor vehicle services providers.
For some, such motoring experiences go way back to the driving school. Pat’s driving school which was along Moi Avenue may have no idea that I was one of their school drop-outs. The government testing before issuance of a Kenyan driving licence was yet another horror experience for me. Despite having been a driver for several years, driving with the traffic police on the passenger’s seat was an experience hard to describe. It is no wonder that smart driving schools prepare learners not only for the overall driving experience but also for the traffic police experience and the peculiar driving and walking habits of other road users.
Is there really automotive hospitality in Kenya? Why don’t most car dealership, car bazaars or yards, petrol stations, service stations, tyre centre, garages, car-washes, parking lots, road users and the like make the motoring experience hassle free? The horrendous experiences that motor vehicle owners go through do not only happen in back street garages, they are everywhere. After servicing the car at the same Total service station that kept no single record for about 6 years, I finally let go last week. The team seemed to care less about my feedback. Their so called alignment had indeed become a misalignment and they did seem to care. At yet another reputable tyre centre, I had a car puncture repaired and the tyre pressure left at double the normal. On the other hand, a leading car dealership is yet to call me back regarding accessories that I ordered more than a year ago. Other than fuelling, I detest (possibly like many ladies) the thought of having to go through any form of vehicle service.
Beyond the ranting, I believe many motorists are on the lookout for a hassle free motoring experience that makes automotive hospitality a reality. Many are looking for the ideal service provider, one that deals with almost every aspect of the vehicle, keeps a record of the vehicle’s history and makes the service a worthwhile experience. One that will not need to ask what sort of brake pads I need or when is the last time I flushed the engine or what size are my car tyres. One that is aware that the air conditioner filter needs replacement or that a date on the battery would help. One who knows that staff with filthy overalls are not cool. One whose waiting area is friendly or one that can be trusted to pick and drop off the car after service. Lastly, one that knows and appreciates its customers. To those that may be offering such an experience, keep it up!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy