Selling Comfort, Not Just Repairs and Custom Designs

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on October 24th, 2011

While the rest of the world may not take men with ponytails seriously, Buick does. Which is why its 2012 Verano sedan features headrests that provide comfort and support for drivers who rock the dated look.

Useful? My hair is too short to tell. Quirky? Definitely. But it’s no gimmick. Buick says that it invested 1,000 hours into developing new headrests and seats because customers are increasingly prioritizing comfort over aesthetic design.

…a bit of information that, if used correctly, can help us grow our auto trim businesses.

The Art and Science of Comfortable Seats

According to Brian Schell, Verano program engineering manager: “Developing comfortable seats is both an art and a science. Knowing how to translate a physiological impression into tangible design elements is the art, and knowing how to execute the design is the science.”

At face value, Buick’s artistic accomplishments are easy to recognize – modern aesthetics combined with premium materials and quality craftsmanship. However, the art that Schell refers to is finding that perfect balance of form and function.

To do this, Buick employed large men and small women to sit in its seats for minutes to hours and provide feedback to design engineers on their experiences. With that feedback, engineers worked with industrial and interior designers to develop good looking seats with contours that wouldn’t compromise occupants’ postural comfort.

How? It used support foam and plush padding in all the right places. Plus it picked up on all those odd, little complaints that drivers had and came up with viable solutions – like headrests that make driving with a ponytail or up-do more comfortable.

How is this relevant to auto trimmers?

Of course, most independent auto trim shops don’t have the resources to invest in the science of ergonomics. But being aware that these sorts of things are influencing customers’ purchase decisions is still valuable – as it can help shape the types of products and services we offer, as well as our sales pitches.

For instance, I’m now more likely to inquire about a customer’s seating comfort – even if he just dropped by for an estimate on a convertible top.

Why? Because if he mentions lower back pain, I may be able to sell him on adding more support foam to the lower seat back. If he mentions that he’s too short to see past the hood, I can suggest padding the base. Even if he cracks a joke about his butt falling asleep after clocking so many hours on the road, I can recommend installing a gel pad under the fabric.

Based on Buick’s research about what drivers want, I know that many customers are likely to take me up on the offer.

The point is, it’s time to start selling customers on comfort, not just repairs and custom designs. If that means that I have to tweak my sign and advertisements to let customers know that I also sculpt foam and pad seats – fine.

Advertising the fact that I can make drivers’ seats more comfortable opens my business up to a whole new audience of potential customers – one’s who otherwise wouldn’t come to me unless their seats were torn, cracked or faded.

Now they don’t have to wait and neither do I.




2 Responses

  1. Naseem Muaddi says:

    My shop is bombarded with customers who complain about their car’s uncomfortable seats. I can usually solve the problem by adding or removing foam. Although, 9 times out of 10 it’s usually an easy fix I still let them know ahead of time that I’m an upholstery man not a chiropractor and no matter what I do your seat will never be as comfortable as the recliner in your living room.


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