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Booking Appointments Reminder

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SHOP: Westside Auto Pros   LOCATION: Des Moines, Iowa   OWNER: Ron Haugen SIZE: 12,000 square feet  STAFF SIZE: 25 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 426  ANNUAL REVENUE: $3.48 million

The Inspiration:

Believe it or not, a trip to the dentist helped solve an issue that had been weighing on Ron Haugen for a while.  

“We put so much on our service advisors,” Haugen says. “We’re always trying to

pre-book appointments, but it’s hard to remember to spark that conversation with a customer.”

Haugen brought the issue up in his 20 Group, but no one was able to offer him a solution. Two weeks later, when he was sitting in the chair at his dentist office, he got to thinking about how dentists run their businesses.

“If you think about it, almost all of the appointments that are made in a dental office are booked six months ahead of time,” Haugen says. “They hand you a card at the end and schedule your next appointment. They don’t give you a choice. Plus, they send you home with a toothbrush!”

Haugen decided to take inspiration from the dental industry and start handing out toothbrushes to his customers as a marketing tool and as a way to remind service advisors to pre-book appointments. He’s been using this method for eight years now.

 

What It Is:

A branded toothbrush that serves as both a marketing tool and a reminder to pre-book appointments.

 

What It Does:

Haugen puts the branded toothbrushes on the front counter of his shop.

“It’s a conversation starter,” Haugen says. “I’m always thinking outside of the box. You wouldn’t think that you’d see toothbrushes at an automotive repair shop.”

By having the toothbrushes out in the open and in a high traffic area, service advisors are always looking at them and use them as a reminder to have the conversation with customers about pre-booking an appointment.

“We have tools that can tell us when a customer will be due for their next oil change,” Haugen says. “My service advisors say, ‘Can I make an oil change appointment for you four months from today?’ The biggest obstacle we have is people saying, ‘I don’t know what I’ll be doing Tuesday at 1 p.m. in four months.’

“That’s when we explain that we’ll follow up with a reminder phone call a few days before and we can reschedule if something comes up. Then, after they book the appointment, we give them a toothbrush.”

 

How It’s Made:

Haugen partnered with a promotional product company and gets toothbrushes with the shop’s name and phone number made and sent out in bulk. Haugen adds that although he keeps the toothbrushes out on the front desk, he always gives customers a packaged one to take home rather than one that’s already been opened.

 

The Cost:

Haugen says he usually orders the toothbrushes 500 at a time. When he breaks it down, it’s a little more than a dollar per toothbrush.

“Think about it: Would you be willing to pay $2 to retain a customer?” Haugen says. “You bet—and it’s not even that much.”  

 

The ROI:

Haugen says that he’s definitely seen an increase in the amount of oil changes that he’s booked since he started using the toothbrushes. The shop’s customer retention is at 68 percent, which Haugen is pretty happy about. Haugen adds that retention at his shop has been higher at certain points, but he attributes that to his new involvement in towing and the fact that the shop now services many out-of-town customers.

“It’s hard to determine exactly how many customers the toothbrushes bring in because we use a number of other tools to remind our customers about upcoming appointments and about the shop,” Haugen says. “It’s a great retention tool. It puts a smile on their face.”

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