Every fall I have my chimney cleaned. For years, I would search for a reputable local company. Then, 10 years ago, I met Mike at AAA Chimney, and he became my go-to guy. Each year, Mike returns and earns my trust over and over. You may wonder if it's because he cleans my fireplace better than anyone else or if it's the price. While those are reasonable questions, the real reason why he gets my business year after year is simple: Before he leaves my home, Mike takes the time to review exactly what he did, gives me tips on how to best care for my fireplace and then he books the next appointment for the following year. In essence, he performs what we know as a vehicle delivery process, or in Mike’s case, a chimney cleaning delivery process.
Performing a comprehensive vehicle delivery process and booking the next appointment in our industry is nothing new. Many shops have been doing it for decades. However, there are still many repair shops that have not adopted this goldmine strategy. The vehicle delivery process helps to create that memorable experience that gives the customer a compelling reason to return. When combined with scheduling the next appointment, your repair shop stays branded in your customers’ minds, improving customer retention and helping to ensure future sales.
The auto repair business today is not like it was. Even 10 years ago we would measure customer retention with a factor of four, meaning that customers visited your repair shop about four times a year for routine services. Today, unless there’s a breakdown or a warning light, you’re lucky to see your typical customer once a year for routine service. Consumers these days don’t have the same sense of urgency regarding vehicle maintenance as they once did. Just think about all those customers who have traveled over 15,000 miles in their vehicles since their last oil change. This trend has been slowly creeping up for the past 15 years, if not longer.
There’s another factor we need to consider: if the length of time between visits is too long, the average consumer loses some of the emotional connection they have with their repair shop. What you don’t want to happen is when the oil maintenance light does come on, your customer just finds the most convenient shop to get the oil service done. Think that doesn’t happen?
Unless you're fortunate enough to be in a heavily populated area with no competition, and car counts are never a problem, you will benefit from a well-defined vehicle delivery process; a customer touch point that brings the entire customer experience full circle. Vehicle delivery is never a transaction. It is an opportunity to keep building the relationship. It’s also essential that your service staff discusses and books the next appointment. Everyone reading this knows that booking the next appointment is a strategy being done by dentists, doctors, hairdressers, nail salons, eye doctors, pet groomers, and yes, even Mike at AAA Chimney.
Booking the next appointment is not limited to oil change services either. Just consider all those recommendations you make on just about every car you service each day. Why not create a process that helps to fill up your calendar with profitable future services needed by your existing customers? Don’t rely solely on your CRM program either. The impact of an engaging vehicle delivery process is powerful.
Every customer that leaves your shop today will need future services and repairs. The question is: Where will they go? Make your vehicle delivery process your first step to your next sale.