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Getting customers to keep appointments


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I am a new shop owner and I am having problems with customers not showing up for their appointments. I even signed on with Kukui and we are sending out appointment reminders. People are responding to the reminders but they still don't show up. Any tactics on having customers actually come in? I wonder if it is just because we have been in business for a year and don't have a solid reputation yet or possibly that we are not building trust with people on the phone. All help greatly appreciated.

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Just don't show up ever. Only about 40% of appointments actually show up. Our shop is in a poor neighborhood and we are not the work for a six pack of beer mechanic they are used to. It just bothers me and I don't want to be uppity and start asking for credit card numbers to charge people for not showing up.

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Just don't show up ever. Only about 40% of appointments actually show up. Our shop is in a poor neighborhood and we are not the work for a six pack of beer mechanic they are used to. It just bothers me and I don't want to be uppity and start asking for credit card numbers to charge people for not showing up.

 

I've not heard of charging people for not showing up for appointment but at the same time, if they never come to you then they will never be a customer. That is a problem, you are possibly attracting the wrong customers or you are in the wrong neighborhood. Your market may not be able to handle a shop that books appointments.

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Wish I had some clear cut answers for you since no shows are a killer, can't imagine 60% stiffing you and I do consider a no show stiffing you cause that's lost time and income. During out first conversation and booking the appointment I usually get a feel whether they'll fall into that group or not, and if my gut alerts me I tell them to make sure they give me 24 hours notice if they can't make it, and I drive that point home pretty firmly. The tell tale signs are almost always money related, if they flinch at the price, if they ask if they can buy the parts (#1 big red flag), etc but almost always price related. It's also usually younger customers, specifically males in their 20's with older cars. I think they have buyers remorse over making the appointment or found Joe Blow shadetree to do the work for less.

 

If they stiff me once the only way I'll put them back on the schedule is if they leave the car and keys with me. Once it's in my possession I'll get it on the schedule and they're going to have to wait for an opening, no way they're going to get me twice. Good luck.

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I am grateful for the responses. I decided to call 3 of the no shows to possibly get some answers. One didn't answer. The other two said they found it cheaper or a friend did the work. I am also amazed at the number of people that do ask to bring their own parts in. I knew before moving to this neighborhood it was going to be an adventure but I never expected so many people to give their word on something and then break it. It just aggravates me the lack of integrity in such a great majority of people. Maybe that is why the median income in this area is around $30,000 a year. Maybe I can take beer as payment and start a new business reselling beer and cigarettes.

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I am grateful for the responses. I decided to call 3 of the no shows to possibly get some answers. One didn't answer. The other two said they found it cheaper or a friend did the work. I am also amazed at the number of people that do ask to bring their own parts in. I knew before moving to this neighborhood it was going to be an adventure but I never expected so many people to give their word on something and then break it. It just aggravates me the lack of integrity in such a great majority of people. Maybe that is why the median income in this area is around $30,000 a year. Maybe I can take beer as payment and start a new business reselling beer and cigarettes.

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SmartAutomotive,

 

I am not sure if this would be a help to you or not, but shops that use text messaging software to send appointment reminders are seeing a higher number of people show up for appointments. My company sells software that can help. If you would like to learn more, please don't hesitate to send me a message. Best of luck to you!

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I am grateful for the responses. I decided to call 3 of the no shows to possibly get some answers. One didn't answer. The other two said they found it cheaper or a friend did the work. I am also amazed at the number of people that do ask to bring their own parts in. I knew before moving to this neighborhood it was going to be an adventure but I never expected so many people to give their word on something and then break it. It just aggravates me the lack of integrity in such a great majority of people. Maybe that is why the median income in this area is around $30,000 a year. Maybe I can take beer as payment and start a new business reselling beer and cigarettes.

 

jesus, really man? You have to find a REASONABLE way to entice them to your shop. Maybe check your pricing, maybe you really are too high, if so, look at ways to cut overhead and compare pricing for your level of service etc. Your not going to change people in the way you want them to. Agitated because they didnt keep their appointment, its about them, they are the customer and if they chose to not show then so be it, move on. In a perfect world they would keep their appointments but we dont live there.

 

You should look for ways that make them WANT to keep their appointments and start programs like mikerisich said, that does seem to work pretty good but there wont be one thing that makes them come in, except you and how you handle it.

 

Good luck!

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I am probably in a different boat than most. About 75% of my return customers have come here for aftermarket work that others do not do. Spray in liner, Lift kit, Roll cage etc... I do require that parts be paid in full, up front, over $50. The only exception is the dealerships and I require a PO#. My explanation is...To avoid restock fees. Most do not give it a second thought. You prepay for fuel, fast food, online shopping, and most anything special order. It's really no big deal to prepay parts. And at some point you have to pay anyways. The price shopper always has to go home and ask his wife. But it keeps the schedule clear for serious customers. Now that they are accustom to shop policy, When they come back, it's not a big deal to require some money up front for repair work. Those coming back for service are coming back because they are satisfied customers already. New customers are 90% referrals. The funny thing is how many would rather prepay the entire transaction than write 2 checks. Now this might not work for everyone but it has been my practice for 12 + years.

Edited by cdhowell
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I am probably in a different boat than most. About 75% of my return customers have come here for aftermarket work that others do not do. Spray in liner, Lift kit, Roll cage etc... I do require that parts be paid in full, up front, over $50. The only exception is the dealerships and I require a PO#. My explanation is...To avoid restock fees. Most do not give it a second thought. You prepay for fuel, fast food, online shopping, and most anything special order. It's really no big deal to prepay parts. And at some point you have to pay anyways. The price shopper always has to go home and ask his wife. But it keeps the schedule clear for serious customers. Now that they are accustom to shop policy, When they come back, it's not a big deal to require some money up front for repair work. Those coming back for service are coming back because they are satisfied customers already. New customers are 90% referrals. The funny thing is how many would rather prepay the entire transaction than write 2 checks. Now this might not work for everyone but it has been my practice for 12 + years.

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I am grateful for the responses. I decided to call 3 of the no shows to possibly get some answers. One didn't answer. The other two said they found it cheaper or a friend did the work. I am also amazed at the number of people that do ask to bring their own parts in. I knew before moving to this neighborhood it was going to be an adventure but I never expected so many people to give their word on something and then break it. It just aggravates me the lack of integrity in such a great majority of people. Maybe that is why the median income in this area is around $30,000 a year. Maybe I can take beer as payment and start a new business reselling beer and cigarettes.

I have to give you credit for taking the time and calling the people to find out why they didn't come in. A follow-up phone call

is the best diagnostic tool you have at your disposal when it comes to solving customer-related challenges because it elminates

all guesswork. In other words, the customer is letting you know what happened.

 

I have a few ideas on how to fix the issue, but first... were these appointments made online via your website, were they made

during a phone call or were the customers standing in your shop when they made the appointment?

 

 

 

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We are usually booked up at least a week, so when people drop in we make them an appt a week out, I get their phone # and ask if they can't make it please call us the day before. If they are a no show I'll call and reschedule them, no hard feelings. The rescheduled appt is another week away so most local folks get the picture. Honestly, we are so backed up if somebody is a no show we don't even realize it half the time, every quick oil change turns into a check this check that which turns a 45 min appt into a 2 hour appt. We're lucky that our location is superb, and there's nobody around that takes walk ins.

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Umm how did they think you were too expensive? Are you giving out estimates prior to seeing the car? Are these new customers that are calling to book appt that have never been in?

 

 

If so, never give out an estimate over the phone. Get them to come in, charge to inspect, and then if they balk, you got paid for your time.

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I am grateful for the responses. I decided to call 3 of the no shows to possibly get some answers. One didn't answer. The other two said they found it cheaper

 

"Price shoppers" are usually not looking for the cheapest price.
Once you understand the majority of customers - regardless of the neighborhood
or any other demographics...
Are only looking for a shop they can trust to take good care of them, you'll be on

your way to solving this problem permanently.

Here are the 3 biggest mistakes that cause price shoppers to assume your shop

is like all the rest of them out there.

1) Giving a price over the phone. (This is the race to the bottom because if price
is the only information they're getting from you, this is the only thing they have for

comparison.)

2) Telling them they must bring their vehicle in, without giving them a valid reason

that makes sense to them.

(Just saying it's against your company policy to give

phone estimates will not fly because they don't understand what that means, in

the real world.)

3) Not giving them at least two benefits for doing business with you. (And ASE

certifications or years in business doesn't pass the "so what?" test, from the

customer's perspective).

Bottom-line: since this is a common situation you're going to run into, you want

to have a proven system in place that actually works effectively with today's

"more educated" customer.

Once you've mastered the phone, as a sales tool, you'll never have to worry

about missed appointments.

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