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Recipe for Referrals

When you’re looking for a service—almost any service—what’s the first thing you do? Chances are, you’ll pull out your phone to look up businesses near you, as well as their reviews. Your customers are no different. If your shop hasn’t clinched that top Google ranking, there’s a good chance customers are passing you by, regardless of your team’s skills and expertise. 

In a recent Ratchet+Wrench survey, the top two factors consumers said they take into account when choosing an auto repair shop are convenience and trust. So, how do you establish those factors among your customer base? 

Ratchet+Wrench editorial director Anna Zeck and vice president of content Bryan Evans talk through the process of finding a shop from the customer’s perspective in this week’s upcoming episode of Into the Consumer’s Mind.

Online Access

You can’t win customers over on your vehicle and customer service in the shop until you get them through the door. An important key to bringing customers in is effective marketing. You don’t necessarily need to advertise your prices with a fresh and engaging website—and don’t forget about social media platforms like Facebook.  

"Today, it's almost rare to find a shop without a Facebook page or a Google rating below 4.5. The digital bar's been raised across the board," Evans says. 

In Ratchet+Wrench’s survey fewer than half of respondents said the shop they’d visited most recently had a nice website, and only 27 percent noted that the shop used social media. With such a large number of shops slacking in their online presence, staying current and accessible online can set you apart from the competition and bring customers in. And with so many shop websites bearing boilerplate or templated looks, you’ll be better off making sure yours is unique. 

“You really have to think about how you can make your website stand out to the consumer and quickly relay that the experience is going to be different at your shop,” Zeck says.

Real-Time Recommendations

Customers may be glued to their phones, word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most effective and important ways to draw customers in. A customer is likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or family member more than a review from a stranger, so be sure you’re asking your loyal customers to refer you

“Word-of-mouth is No. 1 and online reviews are No. 2,” Tom Lambert, owner of Shadetree Automotive in Layton, Utah, says. “You always have to be creating a buzz about your business. Referrals and the rest of your business go hand in hand.”

Customer referrals can increase the level of trust that new customers have with your shop. Hearing reviews from previous customers helps consumers feel more comfortable, and are more effective than company advertisements.

Clear-Cut Convenience

And while online access and glowing personal reviews are key, convenience has never been more important when choosing a repair shop, so servicing customers as quickly and efficiently as possible remains a cornerstone of the great repair customer experience. 

With customers leading busy lives, flexibility can go a long way in offering the convenience they crave, so amenities like pick-up and delivery services, loaner vehicles, flexible hours and easy mobile pay can go a long way. 

Zeck and Evans drill in deeper on the topic in this week’s episode of the Inside the Consumer’s Mind video series.

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