Give ’em Something to Talk About
If you read my previous two columns, you know I’m passionate about social media. Why? It all comes down to business, right? Social media is where it’s at. If you’re not already tracking these things, you should. You can do your own analysis. I challenge you to ask your customers how they found you. You’ll be surprised by what you discover.
I followed my own suggestion. It turns out social media and the Internet are huge drivers of business. That’s why I believe every auto shop should be active on social media. It’s ROI heavy, and the younger generation is into Snapchat, Instagram, and Pokémon Go. (My shop is near a Pokestop, which is a fact I advertise in my lobby.) Most drivers in my own generation (those of us over 40 years old) have a Facebook account. Utilizing social media simply makes smart business sense.
Despite the power of online marketing, though, some auto professionals just aren’t interested in social media. In my opinion, it’s best to embrace modern technology (hey, you’re already doing this on the shop floor!), but I can’t force you to see things my way. The key purpose of social media is to boost word-of-mouth referrals. Let's analyze some ways to accomplish the exact same thing—without logging on to Facebook.
Understand why reviews matter.
So, it's safe to say we all use Google in some capacity.
According to AdWeek, 81 percent of customers do online research before they make a purchase decision. Research shows that 88 percent of customers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends.
Let’s say you have zero reviews on Google or Yelp. If it’s a toss up between you and an auto shop across the street that has 10 reviews, who do you think a driver will choose? Probably not you. Whoever has the most (and best) reviews wins!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Here’s a reality check. Most people say they would be happy to write a review, but don’t take the time to do so. That’s not because you don’t have the best auto shop in your state; it's because you didn’t ask. “Hey, Betty, you've been coming here for two years now … while you wait, will you write a review?”
It’s important to “make the ask” when your customer has the time and opportunity to follow through. Humans are wired to feel good when they do a favor. As long as you provide outstanding service, they will be happy to reciprocate by supporting your shop. Speak up! If you say nothing, you get nothing.
Spending time complaining about not getting reviews is trivial stuff you can control.
Here’s a bonus tip: Add a note to your invoices that says: “We take customer satisfaction seriously. Tell us about your experience at www.[Where-You-Want-Them-To-Write-A-Review].com.” Most people don’t read every word of their invoices, so ask your cashier, PPA or service adviser to point this out so it’s noticed.
Do something memorable.
What is the most obvious way to get customers talking about you? Do something worth talking about! Drivers seek information in every way, shape and form. Thinking outside of the traditional box and going off my own experience, offering free auto awareness workshops is a way meet their needs and to bring them through your door, which is meeting my needs in the shop, too. Showing a driver how to communicate with his or her vehicle and open the hood is a gift. People want to know, but they don't know how to ask. Give them the opportunity!
Educated drivers are 10 times more likely to invest in auto repair than uneducated ones. Think about it. We all like to buy. No one likes to be sold. You don’t have to be pushy with a driver who understands the importance of preventive maintenance. They will gladly pay for a service that improves the health, safety, and longevity of their vehicles. Present yourself as a doctor for cars to help drivers understand why it’s good to be proactive.
You could go outside with a megaphone and tell the world how amazing your business is. It wouldn’t be effective. It’s best to let your customers do the work for you. Follow these tips to get people talking