Leverage Loaners

Jan. 26, 2022

Use your fleet to your advantage.

SHOP STATS: Premier Auto Repair Location:  Worcester, Mass.  Owner: John Cayer Staff Size: 4  Shop Size: 950 square feet  Number of Lifts: 2   Average Monthly Car Count: 210 Annual Revenue: $1.3 million

At less than 1,000 square feet with just two bays, you may be surprised to hear that Premier Auto Repair in Worcester, Mass., sees 210 cars per month and has an annual revenue of $1.3 million, but it’s true. The tiny powerhouse, owned by John Cayer, has made the most out of its limited space and finds ways to compete with larger shops and dealerships in the area. One of the largest contributors to the shop’s success? Its loaner fleet.

The Backstory

At roughly 950 square feet, the tiny shop is often overlooked by customers. Because of this, Cayer has had to find ways to retain his customers once they do come in. One way to do this is by delivering on a quality repair with the least amount of inconvenience for the customer. 

The Problem

Cayer says the two main objections he sees from customers about getting additional work done to their vehicles is that they either don’t have the time or the money. Cayer offers third party financing, which helps with cost, but he had to figure out a way to address the time concern. 

“The second most common objection I hear is that ‘I need my car to do stuff,’” Cayer says. 

The Solution

When a customer says that they don’t have the time or that they can’t leave their vehicles at the shop because they need it to get around, Cayer says, “I can put you in a car right now,” which disarms that objection. 

Premier Auto Repair is a Shop Fix Academy member and, inspired by Aaron Stokes and the importance he places on loaner vehicles, Cayer purchased his first two In June of 2021. His loaner fleet has now grown to seven vehicles in total. 

Being able to offer customers a loaner vehicle has not only worked in his favor by allowing him to sell more work by taking the time objection off the table, it’s also allowed him to shuffle work around. Customers who are in the loaner vehicles aren’t in as big of a rush to get their vehicles back, he explains. If, for example, there’s a bigger job that will take four hours, Cayer is able to push it back if that customer is in a loaner car. He, of course, lets the customer know that it may take a little longer, but more often than not, he or she is more than fine with it as long as they have a vehicle to use. 

To stand out and attract customers, the loaners are advertised on the website, in all of the shop’s direct mailers and mentioned to customers when they come in. 

Loaner vehicles are not offered for simple services, such as oil changes, unless there’s a special request. Every customer that has a substantial repair is offered one and if, for whatever reason there is not one available, they are offered a rideshare service or can schedule the repair based on when a loaner vehicle will be available. 

The Aftermath

Before the loaners, the average ticket at the shop was $283—it is now at $525, which Cayer believes has a lot to do with the fleet. Car count is also up 60 cars from the previous year. Although it may seem expensive upfront, Cayer’s extra business has more than recouped the costs and he says that 3rd party warranty companies will often reimburse a certain amount per day for loaners, you just need to ask. 

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