Pep Boys has been in business since 1921, and it was only about two years after the first location opened that the company created its iconic logo – the caricatures of founders Manny, Moe & Jack. Although it’s been updated somewhat through the years, the three smiling faces in the logo have remained a Pep Boys hallmark. Those friendly faces in the logo, in fact, could be viewed as a nod to one of the company’s other signatures – an ongoing focus on customer satisfaction.
“Our goal is to own a relationship with the person whose name is on the title of the car,” explains Scott Webb, executive vice president of marketing and merchandising. “We want the ability to serve our customers in the manner they want to be served, and always provide the absolute best service to them.”
Today, Pep Boys is a $2.2 billion industry leader that has more than 7,000 service bays in more than 700 Supercenters and Service & Tire Centers in 35 states and Puerto Rico. Its stores offer tires, batteries, vehicle accessories and hard parts, as well as ASE-certified technicians who provide services such as scheduled maintenance, oil changes, tire installation and repair, brake replacement, engine repair and state inspections and emissions testing. The company also serves commercial customers through its Pep Express Parts Delivery program.
Although Pep Boys has maintained a strong service culture since its inception, a few new programs are helping the company enhance its services in a number of ways. Its “One Team” philosophy, for example, consolidates the stores’ three separate service teams – one in the front of the stores, one in the bays and another tending to commercial accounts – into one team that is ready and capable of responding to customers’ issues and questions.
“The One Team program puts the labor in the front of the store,” Webb says. “A team member greets a customer immediately as he or she enters the store, and is there to serve the customer throughout their experience. We have gone from being order-takers to becoming solutions makers.”
Information to Installation
One of the most important aspects of Pep Boys’ service mandate is the company’s use of technology to support its One Team philosophy and enhance the customer service experience. “Consumers primarily use the Internet to find information, make a transaction and give feedback or review a product or service,” Webb says. “We are using the Internet to create a better automotive service experience, which no one has done before.”
Through its e-Serve program – which was launched last year – customers can go online, create a service appointment, explain what the problem is and what time they want to come into a Pep Boys location. When the customer arrives at the Pep Boys store, associates are waiting and the work order is ready.
The second part of e-Serve is similar to tracking a package online. Pep Boys assigns a tracking number to each work order, and after customers drop off their car, they can use the number to get estimates and monitor the work progress.
“E-serve will continue to evolve and grow,” Webb says. “Through TreadSmart, a Pep Boys property, customers can find new tires for their car. They use the TreadSmart online system to explain the type of driving they do, the handling characteristics they want and their preferred price range. The system then provides a side-by-side comparison of different tire options so the customer can make their own informed decision. After they make their choice, the tires will be in the service bay of the customer’s preferred location. This system takes the customer through the entire process, from information to installation.”
The company’s goal, Webb says, is to create an environment where all car owners are comfortable.
“Customers want expert advice and the information they need to be more knowledgeable about their cars,” he explains. “By providing them with the services and information they need, they have a more comfortable experience in the store and are not intimidated by what’s happening.”
Pep Boys ensures each location is delivering “the best service experience for customers,” Webb says, by providing the “right coaching, right information and right training” to all of its associates.
“The service culture is the most important part of our business,” he stresses. “We are in the people business; we just happen to fix cars and trucks. We serve the do-it-yourself market with quality products at great prices, but as new car technology improves, the ability to work on your car by yourself becomes more difficult. We are putting a bigger focus on the service business because that is where the market is heading and we want to be the best.”