Most shop owners will start pumping more money into their marketing campaigns when they are looking to increase their car counts. This can help bring new customers into your shop, which is certainly important, but the value of your new customers diminishes if you’re unable to keep them coming back to you. There will be no greater key to your success in the coming years than your ability to create a memorable customer experience that shows your customers you genuinely care about them, so here are 7 tips that will help you deliver extraordinary service, and keep your customers coming back to your shop for years to come.
#1. Always under promise and over deliver.
If you apply this principle to your business, you can often exceed your customers’ expectations. For example, when your competitors are asked how long it will take to do a minor service, they will typically tell the customer something like, “It will take about an hour.” Unfortunately, they have now set an expectation in the customer’s mind. What they should have done was ask the customer how soon he needed the vehicle. If the customer were to then respond by saying, “I need it by noon” (and it’s 9:00am), your service advisor now has three hours to complete a one hour job, and can pleasantly surprise the customer by getting it done before noon. It’s no different when you put together an estimate. If there is any way that you can come in even a few dollars under your original estimate, your customers will be thrilled when they come in to pick up their vehicles! Always under promise, and then look for every opportunity to over deliver.
#2. Make sure that all of your employees follow the Marriott Rule.
This rule states that any time a customer comes within twenty feet of any employee, the employee should smile and make eye contact. If the customer comes within ten feet of an employee, Marriott employees are asked to smile and give a salutation like, “Good morning!” I would strongly encourage you to ask your employees to not only smile and give a salutation, but to also ask the customer, “Have you been helped yet?” Discuss this at your next employee meeting and watch employee morale, and customer satisfaction, go straight up!
#3. Empower your service advisors so they can put out small fires before they turn into more serious issues.
All that you need to do is implement a policy similar to the one used at the Ritz Carlton. At the Ritz, they empower all of their employees with a predetermined budget that they can use for customer satisfaction. You should do the same. Set aside a small budget that your service advisors can use to resolve customer complaints on the spot, and long before you have to get involved. To reward your employees who provide exemplary customer service and do not need to exhaust this budget, you can give them a portion of the unused money!
#4. Be very careful with using the word “free.”
Most people view something that’s free as being of little or no value. What you should do is tell your customers that the service is “no charge.” This will send a strong message that there’s a value to the service, but you are setting the cost aside for them.
#5. Make a habit of always asking your customers, “Is there anything else that I can help you with?”
If you ask this question when you’re writing up the customer it can obviously lead to additional sales, but beyond that, it’s a question you should ask throughout the entire customer experience. You should ask the very same question after your customers have authorized your recommended services, you should ask it at car delivery, and you should ask it when you have completed your customer follow-up calls. The value in asking this particular question is that it shows your customers that you genuinely care about them, and that you embrace every opportunity to help them in any way possible.
#6. Always follow through on what you say you are going to do.
If you give a customer an estimate, then we all understand it to be just that: An estimate. On the other hand, if you tell a customer that the repair won’t run over $500.00, and you find out later on that it does, then you should pick up the difference. Not only is it the ethical thing to do, but that customer will sing your song for years to come, because people always enjoy dealing with people who make promises … and then deliver.
#7. Never forget: It’s what you do after the sale that counts.
Follow-up thank you calls that are genuine and from your heart, are priceless.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Bob at email@example.com, or at 800-204-3548.
Imagine you’re a technician who’s having an off day. In the course of doing a routine oil change, you forget the drain plug. As you’re adding the new oil, it’s draining out just as fast as you’re pouring it in.
If your shop’s car count is consistently flat or down, chances are, this scenario is what’s happening to your client base. For every new customer you bring in, you’re losing one or more existing clients. This is a vicious cycle that, at best, keeps your revenue flat. Quite often, it’s leading to declining revenues.
How can you tell if this is the case in your business or ensure it doesn’t become the case?
Unfortunately, many shop management systems (SMS) don’t have built-in reports for measuring either of these. Sometimes, you can pull individual reports from your SMS and then manually extract the information you need. But this is time consuming and often requires you to be proficient in Microsoft Excel.
To save yourself time and headaches, work with your SMS provider (if they’re willing), a marketing company or a computer programmer to create custom reports. They’d essentially create a way of reading the information in your database and then calculate the client base and retention numbers for you. The cost is minimal compared to the value you’ll gain by being able to monitor these key metrics.
Not sure how to measure retention? Here are three ways of doing it. The first one is a bit rudimentary but will give you a basic overview. The second and third ones are better, especially if you can do both.
If figuring all this out sounds like as much fun as taking your tween to a Taylor Swift concert, then look for an expert who can do the legwork for you. Taking steps to improve your retention rate will have a very meaningful impact on your bottom line because:
Once you start to measure your client retention and can see the trends, the next step is to figure out how to boost retention. That is the topic for next week’s blog post.
(** If you can pull the data, it’s also smart to track the number of “one-and-runs” and their spending. It can help you see if you’re losing clients after one visit or more than one visit. And if you have crowds of customers coming in once and only spending $19.95, you may want to reconsider your oil change special or other introductory offer.)
Angi Semler Welch is the founder and Chief Vision Officer of Jumpdog Marketing Inc., and she’s been helping auto repair shop owners grow their businesses for more than 15 years.
Your customers have multiple options for their car service needs, so differentiating yourself by using a nationally recognized, high quality premium lubricant brand is an easy and effective way to reinforce the quality of your shop’s services. From motor oil to transmission fluid to bearing grease, using the right lubricants keeps your customers’ vehicles on the road and loyal to your shop.
One of our strategic partners, Castrol Lubricants, can provide valuable information in the areas of consumer retention, technology training, and best practices sharing.
We at RepairPal wanted to share some of the many reasons why it is important to become ASE Certified. Check out the list below and learn more about technician certification at ase.com.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, (ASE), was established in 1972 as a non-profit organization to help improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians and parts specialists. Today, there are more than 300,000 ASE-certified professionals at work in dealerships, independent shops, collision repair shops, auto parts stores, fleets, schools and colleges throughout the country. For more information about ASE, visit the website at www.ase.com.
by Craig Hessenauer, JASPER Regional Manager
Whether you have been in business for decades, or you’ve just recently opened your doors, attracting new customers plays a critical role in your financial success. A typical shop’s customer attrition rate is approximately 10% – 15%. This is due to aging drivers, customers moving out of your area, and a few dissatisfied ones. Multiply that customer depletion over just a few years and you’ll quickly realize that your income can suffer greatly without a steady flow of new customers.
The degree of financial success varies greatly among the 150,000 plus automotive repair and maintenance businesses in the United States. Some shop owners are thriving in this new age of automotive repair, while others struggle to make ends meet. This phenomena is not new, nor is it limited to your customer attrition rate. However, if you want to secure your financial future, then pay attention to how well your business attracts new customers.
The number one way to get new customers is through referrals. The most successful shop owners often attract enough new customers, through referrals, simply by doing what they said they would do, by when they said they could do it, and at a fair value to the customer. These business owners will tell you that it’s not complicated and that referrals are the primary way they attract new customers. You will also find that in order for these successful shop owners to do what they said they would do, by when they said they could do it, requires them to employ skilled technicians armed with the appropriate technology. It’s not just in your tool box any more. Prompt repair service requires high-speed information access, from diagnostics to parts supply, and that technology continues to evolve. If you want to meet the high-speed demands of your customers, and gain their referrals, then embrace new technology and pay competitive wages for competent technicians.
If your new business is not yet attracting enough new customers on its own, or if you’re trying to jump start an old family business, then you may need to take some additional steps in order to get new customers coming into your place of business.
Below is a simple checklist of proactive steps you can take to increase new business. You don’t need to work on all of these steps at once, but each one can have a positive effect on your long-term financial succ
Being in business for yourself is a life altering experience… for better or for worse. Unfortunately, either result typically requires an equal amount of your time. It’s how you invest your time that ultimately determines your financial success in business. A thriving business does not have to be complicated. Make sure everyone in your community remembers that you are open for business and then serve them promptly and with courtesy when they arrive. New customer referrals will follow.
Best wishes for your continued financial success.
Craig Hessenauer has been a Jasper Engines & Transmissions Associate for 26 years, working primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region. Craig began his automotive career 30 years ago after attending Salisbury State University in Maryland in pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
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