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Three Simple Steps to Improve Customer Retention, Sales, and Profits


Joe Marconi

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Nearly every car that leaves your auto repair shop today will need some sort of service or repair in the future. The question is, will your customers take their car back to you? In this blog, I will discuss three simple ways to increase your customer retention rate, which will also increase sales and profits.

First, ensure that the entire customer experience is amazing; from scheduling the appointment, vehicle write-up, the sales process, and especially car delivery. A poor experience could result in a lost customer. Remember, an amazing customer experience tells the customer, “We want you back!”

Second, spend time at car delivery reviewing all the work that was done that day. Make the customer feel good about the decisions they made regarding the repairs or services done that day. Discuss all future services, recommendations, and any deferred work. Engage in conversation and always look to build a relationship with your customers.

Third, and the most important, make sure that your service advisors are informing all customers of their next service appointment, and book that appointment. This step is crucial. As a business coach, I get pushback on this from shop owners and service advisors stating that their customers don’t want to book the next appointment. This is nonsense. Your dentist books your next visit, and so do your pet groomer, your doctor, hairdressers, eye doctors, and HAVAC companies. In fact, I got a reminder call the other day from the company that cleans my fireplace chimney about my October 26th  appointment. So, please, no excuses!

The bottom line is this. One of the best ways to build a more profitable company is to pay attention to the customers right in front of you every day. Create an amazing experience each time, and make sure you perform the car delivery with such execution that it gives your customers a compelling reason to return to you.

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I agree with points #1 & #2.  However, unlike #3 repeat transmission business is very difficult to predict, unless it's an annual service.  Repeat business in the transmission business is usually either a warranty job as in leaks, a malfunction, or a very unlucky person with multiple vehicles.  But that's just me.  It's very different from the general auto repair business.  In a nutshell, while I do try to make all customers feel good about the repair and communicate effectively, it's more of a transactional business model than a relationship business model because I rarely see the customer again.

I can easily imagine how critical customer retention is in general auto repair, and I agree.  Our business is usually (as we call it) "won & done."

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5 hours ago, Transmission Repair said:

I agree with points #1 & #2.  However, unlike #3 repeat transmission business is very difficult to predict, unless it's an annual service.  Repeat business in the transmission business is usually either a warranty job as in leaks, a malfunction, or a very unlucky person with multiple vehicles.  But that's just me.  It's very different from the general auto repair business.  In a nutshell, while I do try to make all customers feel good about the repair and communicate effectively, it's more of a transactional business model than a relationship business model because I rarely see the customer again.

I can easily imagine how critical customer retention is in general auto repair, and I agree.  Our business is usually (as we call it) "won & done."

Yes, the transmission business, a lot like the collision business, it much different from the general repair model. However, I still believe that step # 3 can create song birds, if the overall customer experience was amazing.  It's all about how the customer "feels" when they leave. 

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2 hours ago, Joe Marconi said:

Yes, the transmission business, a lot like the collision business, it much different from the general repair model. However, I still believe that step # 3 can create song birds, if the overall customer experience was amazing.  It's all about how the customer "feels" when they leave. 

Once again, you're right.  We received about 20% of our business from referrals.  We received multiple comments on our website and YouTube channel because they were full of good information.  I had a customer that actually wanted to watch his transmission getting rebuilt.  He sent us multiple referrals.

Below is a local investigative reporter, Bill Gephart, who works for a one of the local TV stations.  (3:04)

https://youtu.be/Loo6V7Nln-o

 

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I keep reading, with business, it’s all about the experience. And I read articles in auto trade magazines that mention a “great experience” and even read “dazzling experience. Now it’s an “amazing experience.” But nobody says what that is, would look like or how to achieve it. And could car repair be amazing?

How many store or business interactions can be amazing experiences? I would think a dinner, concert, sporting event, etc. could be amazing. But spending money on your car so that it runs the same as it did a month ago seems far from “amazing.” Maybe amazing compared to other shops.

Regarding going to another shop because your shop isn’t amazing, I don’t see it that way. Having said that, we work on high-end German cars and I think those people choose their repair shop carefully. They probably won’t just go to the next shop down the street because it was only a good experience.

I think if the customer talks to personable people at your shop, maybe there are some smiles or laughs, gets their car fixed at a fair price in a reasonable amount of time, that’s a “good” experience.

I suppose if your customers just have a “regular” car that’s not much more than transportation, and they see repair shops as a commodity, perhaps it’s easy to just go to the next shop.

Thoughts?

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I define an amazing experience by great communication.  The more I communicate with the customer, the better.  The mode of communication doesn't matter.  It can be through direct fact-to-face communication, a phone call, text, Email, or a video.  Keep the customer informed and make sure you understand his needs.  People are prone to go with what they know.  Make sure you read all of Joe's blog on customer retention.

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that sounds like a "good" experience. I don't see it as amazing. Bad communication makes for a bad experience. I think good communication makes for a good experience, but not amazing.

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1 minute ago, newport5 said:

that sounds like a "good" experience. I don't see it as amazing. Bad communication makes for a bad experience. I think good communication makes for a good experience, but not amazing.

My YouTube channel made most repairs amazing.  That's because we had over 2,200 customer videos of their transmission.  In each 3-4 minute video I would explain 3 important things, 1. What failed.  2. What we are going to do to fix it.  3. What we are going to do to keep the failure from happening again.  I would then follow up with either a text or Email of a .pdf of the final invoice, including tax.  If we found anything extra after that, we would just eat it.  Part of an amazing experience is not surprises.

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16 hours ago, newport5 said:

I keep reading, with business, it’s all about the experience. And I read articles in auto trade magazines that mention a “great experience” and even read “dazzling experience. Now it’s an “amazing experience.” But nobody says what that is, would look like or how to achieve it. And could car repair be amazing?

How many store or business interactions can be amazing experiences? I would think a dinner, concert, sporting event, etc. could be amazing. But spending money on your car so that it runs the same as it did a month ago seems far from “amazing.” Maybe amazing compared to other shops.

Regarding going to another shop because your shop isn’t amazing, I don’t see it that way. Having said that, we work on high-end German cars and I think those people choose their repair shop carefully. They probably won’t just go to the next shop down the street because it was only a good experience.

I think if the customer talks to personable people at your shop, maybe there are some smiles or laughs, gets their car fixed at a fair price in a reasonable amount of time, that’s a “good” experience.

I suppose if your customers just have a “regular” car that’s not much more than transportation, and they see repair shops as a commodity, perhaps it’s easy to just go to the next shop.

Thoughts?

You make a great point, and I agree with you.  Going to get your car serviced and repaired is not like going out to dinner or a concert, etc. With those events, the consumer made a decision to spend money before they left their house. Plus, these are events that people look forward to, so it's a different mindset. With  auto repair shops it is different.

When I was in business, I defined an amazing customer experience by how people feel when they call us, book an appointment, drop off their car, and at car delivery. We need to deliver an experience that focuses on kindness, empathy and listening. We did that by just being nice, by the follow up phone call, the follow up thank you card, and by ensuring that every step of the customer process is not just a transaction, but an opportunity to create a relationship.  

We also made it point to find out things about the customer other than about their car - For example, their kid's name, their pet's name, their hobbies. And we talked about that as if we were friends.

The bottom line is this, six months from now, the customer will not remember the Mass Air Flow Sensor we installed, but they will remember how they felt.

I hope this makes sense. 

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I totally agree with that.   I hadn't thought of a great relationship as (being part of) an amazing experience, but I have to agree with you !!!

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