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
- Train everyone in your place of business on the importance of making your existing customers’ experience a memorable one.
Always try to do what you said you would do, by when you said you could do it… with a smile.
- Make your business appear larger than life. Marketing 101 is to get noticed. Bright colors, enlarged business cards, wrapped vehicles, etc. are marketing ploys you will notice other business owners employ to become more memorable. Observe these grand business approaches and incorporate what you can.
- Incorporate a professional automotive-focused web manager to keep you on top for both web and mobile searches, and help you understand the value of developing a Facebook following.
- Participate in your community events with your marketing hat on. Support their causes and be the one that everyone reme
- Visit other businesses in your area, including other automotive repair and maintenance businesses. Most successful shops have a healthy portion of fleet work and referrals from other shops that lack the diagnostic or programming capabilities, or lack the skilled labor needed to perform engine or transmission replacements, or simply need someone to fix what their technician broke.
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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