For both shop owners, they have found that their investment in each of the programs has indeed proven useful for customer acquisition in the long run.
“Openbay gave us an opportunity to get a customer that we never would have gotten,” Steinberg says. “It’s brought us clients that used to go to the car dealer but now come to us.”
And for Nalu, the same sentiment is echoed with his choice of RepairPal.
“RepairPal is the best referring mechanism in our business right now,” Nalu says.
At first, it was tough for Ed Kushman to get on board with services such as RepairPal and Openbay.
As the chairman elect of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and vice president of C&H Foreign Auto Repair in Spokane, Wash., he’s somewhat come around to understanding why shops would want to utilize these services, especially since his shop recently joined RepairPal.
It was largely the perception of the automotive industry that these services gave to consumers that was an issue for Kushman, giving “preconceived information about what a repair should cost in a geographical area.”
It's up to the shop owner, to educate the customers, Kushman says. Especially since you will have customers calling you with an idea of how much their repair should cost.
It’s also a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
RepairPal records every conversation between customers and service advisors, and as a real “stickler” for customer service, this feature is what actually keeps Kushman as a member.
It’s a very inexpensive and effective way for him to monitor phone and sales skills and even enables him to know where he needs to put emphasis on training for staff.
To run a phone recording system would cost Kushman way more than what his monthly fee to RepairPal is, he says.
Despite some slipups in pricing, RepairPal has been accommodating, he says. It has happened twice where the service gave an unrealistic price. Kushman charged the customer the posted rate and RepairPal paid the difference.
What to Consider
If you’re considering either of these services, you need to first evaluate your marketing plan and see if you’re meeting your goals as far as customer acquisition and retention.
Assuming that you still feel you need one of these services, ask yourself the following:
1.Do you have open bay or unsold time?
2.Who are the other [RepairPal or Openbay] certified shops in your area?
3.What financial benefit will you derive from it?
4.Will it fit into your overall business plan as far as KPIs and gross profit?