21st Century Innovation
Are you texting your clients? Do you have the ability to send a clean, digital report that can be viewed on your client’s phone? If you answered no to either of these questions, I want to ask you another question.
Do you still advertise in your local phone book? Maybe a dollar bill sized ad? No? Why not?
Because that kind of marketing is no longer useful. You grew past that and now you have a website. A Google presence. Fifteen years ago, everyone was trying to get noticed in the yellow page section of the phone book. I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Times have changed.
So back to my original question. Why are you not texting your clients? Multiple companies have great texting programs designed just for auto repair shops. Digital vehicle inspections are great for increasing the average repair order. They take a little bit longer, but the more effort you put in, the larger the sale.
Shop software system: We replaced our shop software management system a few years ago, and it instantly made a huge difference in sales. Our former system didn’t have live data, so we never knew how the actual week was going to turn out until it ended. By then, it was too late. When I started searching for a new system, having the ability to view reports and track live KPIs quickly was at the top of my list. You can’t fix what you aren’t tracking.
Your system needs to keep growing. If the software peaked years ago and hasn’t changed or developed, it may be time to look elsewhere. In less than a minute, you should be able to see all of your KPI’s. You should be able to pull a report of clients that need callbacks. You should be able to see text messages from your staff to your clients. As an owner, your main job is to oversee and design the business. Having inadequate shop management software can hold you back and cost you money.
Website: Pay someone to design your website. It is that simple. Find a reputable company and make sure they can assist with search engine optimization (SEO). Verify that they will be able to make any changes to your site within 24-48 hours. Take this off of your plate. You will look more professional and have a better chance at new client acquisition with a proper website.
Social Media: This is so important. I overheard two clients in my waiting room. One said that he changed his mind about using a specific plumbing company because they didn’t have a social media presence. I interrupted him to ask why that mattered. He stated that if they aren’t active on social media, they are probably older and don’t invest in newer technology. The plumbing company he chose had an active Facebook page with frequent updates. They recently posted that they were trying to locate a clog and used a camera snake to find a clog in a drainpipe, saving a lot of time. Time is money. It makes sense. Social media isn’t the best place to advertise, but it is excellent for keeping your clients thinking about you.
Responding to reviews: Yes. You need to respond to all reviews of your shop. It shows that you are actively reading them, meaning that you care about what your clients think of you. It also makes a huge statement to the newcomers reading your reviews. When a potential client is searching for a repair shop, they first use an online search engine. As discussed before, if your website and SEO is performing well, your shop and a few others will be chosen. The very first thing that potential clients will do after reviewing your website will be to read your reviews. I have had multiple new clients tell me that they chose my shop based on the fact that I responded to every single Google and Yelp review...good or bad. They felt like they already knew me before they met me. The reason? An excellent biography on my website and the way I responded to all of our reviews. The mannerism you use to respond to the good and bad reviews show your potential clients how you handle yourself. Did you remain in a professional demeanor? Did you try to resolve the conflict? Did you apologize, and was it sincere? At some point, you will receive a bad review. It could be legitimate or another business trying to slam you because you are playing in their sandbox. Regardless, act mature and handle it well. Negative reviews can lead to increased sales from your response.
Texting: So many people prefer texts over calls. It is less intrusive, and it gives freedom to the recipient. They don’t have to respond right that minute. Usually, they do, but they can read your text and finish their breakfast before making any decisions. When you call them, you could reach them at an inconvenient time, and that potentially could ruin the sale.
Digital Vehicle Inspections (DVIs): I saved this for last because it is so important. The most significant issue in any service or repair industry is the lack of trust due to a lack of transparency. Let’s say your refrigerator breaks. You or your spouse call a repair person to look at it. He takes one look and tells you that your Finnegan pin has worn out, and he has one in the truck that just happens to fit your fridge. He installs the part, cleans the condenser, and it works perfectly. Later that evening, you do an online search and find that a clogged condenser will cause all of the symptoms you experienced. Instantly, you feel that you have been taken advantage of. You didn’t need that Finnegan pin at all, and you’re furious that you spent $400 when it was a simple cleaning that needed to be done. The same perception happens with auto repair, but it can be avoided with a little transparency.
A woman takes her car to your shop, and you find leaking shocks. She approves the repairs because she wants her car to run correctly. When her husband gets home, he hears about the repairs and claims that we took advantage of her. She didn’t need shocks. When shocks fail, the car is very bouncy like an old Cadillac with four failed shocks. He drove the vehicle prior, and it wasn’t bouncy at all. Guess who is getting a phone call the next day? Yup. You are. Even if you smooth this over, they aren’t going to buy any upsold repairs without a discussion between them going forward. Or, they may never return. The worst-case scenario of this is that they never call you to discuss this and just find another shop because you ripped them off. You will never be able to regain them as clients, and they may tell their friends that you took advantage of them.
Let’s say that you are using DVIs. You took a picture of the failed shock absorber within the submitted report. You will not only gain their trust, but it will probably turn into a completely different ending. I’ve had new clients refer other clients based on our transparency. A single picture can change the entire sale process.
We review all past DVIs when the client comes in. I like to get an overview of the history and using past DVIs are excellent selling tools. We have shown the progression of a failed part in the timeline of eighteen months with pictures in the DVI.
Take a look at your shop. What can you modernize and do to step up your game? Talk with your team and add one new thing this month to your roster.