Not long ago, I interviewed over forty people for a panel of customers that I moderated in Dallas, Texas. My intent was to discover what drives their decisions in choosing an auto service facility and how they make their purchasing decisions. I also need to mention that all the candidates met the profile of the perfect target customer for today’s auto service facility; they were all average to above average wage earners, they all had at least two years of college education, they had good credit-worthiness, their vehicles were less than 9 years old, they drove an average to above average amount of miles and the majority of them were female. Unlike you shop owners and managers, I was able to ask very specific questions about perceived value, motivators and price. Here are the most revealing conclusions…
Regardless of their income, the majority of your customers are very sensitive to price, even if they have been dealing with you for years. They’re looking for value, and they determine value not by the lowest price, but by what they receive in return. I also discovered that today’s customer is highly motivated by coupons, and the discounts don’t have to be large to be effective. Most of the people I interviewed, who again were average to above average wage earners, felt a $10.00 savings on a service was enough to motivate them to take action. Now I realize that many shop owners believe they have a business and clientele that are above coupons or discounts. Unfortunately, they’re dead wrong, and it’s that pompous, over-inflated feeling of self-worth that has put many business people out of business.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, because I am not suggesting that you give away your services. What I am suggesting is that you establish retail prices for your services in a way that allows for both coupons and some limited discount programs. Just look at Dell computers; clearly they don’t have to provide the promotional prices or discounts they advertise. Without question, Nordstrom, the leading high-end clothing retailer, doesn’t have to offer semi-annual sales either. But there are two primary reasons why they do: not only do promotional prices drive sales, which are the lifeblood of every business, but equally as important, they send a powerful message to their customers. It’s the message that says these companies care enough about their customers to constantly be looking for ways of assuring they get a really great value for every dollar they spend. Ladies and gentlemen, I may be the messenger with this article, but this message came from the single, most important part of your business: your customers. I can only hope… you listen to them.
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Bob Cooper is the president of Elite Worldwide, Inc (www.EliteWorldwideStore.com), an ethics-based company that offers shop owners industry-leading sales, marketing and employee management audio courses available for instant download; coaching services and a wide variety of carefully chosen services from its affiliate companies. Visit the new Elite website for more great tips on how to increase auto repair sales in your shop or service center.