The Return: Zipwhip
STATS: Stock's Underhood Specialists Location: Belleville, Ill. Website: zipwhip.com Cost: $35 per month for basic service, $100 per month for business service. There’s no installation fee and the contract is month to month. Uses: Gives landlines the ability to receive text messages Training Required: Training, which comes with installation for no charge, includes best practices and Google AdWords/click-to-text mobile optimization. A customer support line is also available.
Paul Stock, owner of Stock’s Underhood Specialists in Belleville, Ill., has been in the industry since the early 1970s. He purchased the shop in 1984 and, in 1993, he stopped selling gas and turned the shop into a full-service repair center.
In addition to Stock, the three-bay shop has one technician on staff.
Stock’s shop is always on the cutting edge when it comes to the next big thing. In 1993, his shop became the first AAA facility in the metro area. In 1986, he was ahead of the times when he began offering a preventative maintenance package and, in 2012, he became a NAPA Auto-certified repair shop.
As a way of staying current, Stock attends coaching groups, including one in marketing where a conversation started about text messaging and its prevalence. After the conversation, Stock started researching ways to send texts to landlines. He found a number of different options, but most of them required a new number. He wanted to keep the same number, so he made the decision to go with Zipwhip, which allowed this function.
How It Works:
Stock has been using Zipwhip for about nine months and is still in the process of growing his database and getting the word out that his shop has text-to-landline capability. When the customer checks his or her car in, Stock asks how they would like to be updated. If they say “text,” he writes a “T” on the check-in form. While he’s doing this, he also lets customers know that if they have any questions, they can call or text the landline.
“I’m amazed by how many of our customers are excited about this,” Stock says. “Most people are discouraged by calling; texting seems much easier.”
When a customer texts the shop, the text message pops up as an orange box on Stock’s computer at the shop. The text will pop up on the screen and Stock can either wait or type a message back right away. If he scrolls over the box, the reply option will pop right up. If he decides to wait, the message will turn gray and then fade away. When he’s ready to access the message, he simply goes to the app on his browser and pulls up all of the texts. This is also where he can find all of his directory information. The app is also downloaded on his phone, so if he’s out in the shop, he’ll get a notification and he can read and respond to the message directly on his mobile device.
There are a number of different features that Stock enjoys, including an auto response that alerts customers to anything it’s programmed to do. Stock uses it to let customers know if the shop is closed and its hours. There’s also a scheduler that allows Stock to set up texts to go out at a certain time and day. This is helpful for appointment reminders.
Stock says that the feedback that he’s received from customers has been great.
“Texting is less intrusive,” Stock says.
It’s not just for younger generations, either. Stock, who is 65, says that he and his 28-year-old tech both use the app and love it.
“It’s the way the world is headed,” Stock says.
Stock says there’s been no immediate ROI that he can calculate, but that it’s a long-term investment he’s made to attract more customers and retain more business.
“I want to make doing business so easy with me that there’s no reason to go elsewhere,” Stock says.
Stock subscribes to the package with all of the features, which sets him back $100 per month. That’s a large investment, but Stock compares it to when he became a AAA shop.
“For the first few years, the ROI was mediocre at best,” Stock says. “Now, my business can’t live without it. When customers start to catch on and word spreads, I think the ROI will be significant in two to three years.”