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    • By Joe Marconi
      A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator.  I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold."  I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?"  No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring.  I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back.  Well, no one did.
      So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD."  There was silence, so I continued.  I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times,  I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back.  She replied,  "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway."  I hung up the phone and called another company.
      The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone?  The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business.  Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one.  Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls. 
      Your phone is your lifeline to future business.  So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone? 
       
    • By Tpog496
      I'm finding the more I look into tire prices from box stores the more embarrassing my tire prices become. In the past month or so I've found tires for sale at Wal-mart, Discount Tire, and Fleet Farm cheaper than I can buy them. Have any of you ran into this? If so does your supplier match prices and make it so you can profit a bit?
    • By cmautocare
      How do shops handle the use of cellular phones by their technicians during work hours?
    • By Jay Huh
      Last year I got a 30lb tank of R134a for $69 at Advance. NOW it's $149! I found $138 at Autozone. Cheapest is Sam's club for $120 but gotta pay sales tax...
      What gives? I wasn't in the business when R12 got phased out. Same thing happening to r134a?
    • By Jay Huh
      Hi everyone, first time post and it's been good reading everyone's input on this forum. Just so happened to stumble upon this forum and it's awesome having other people in my shoes.
       
      I quit my job as a service advisor and started doing side work out of my garage @$35/labor rate. Became a mobile mechanic with $45/hr 3 months after. Got a shared building with 2 bays and bumped up to $60 an hour. 8 months later, I am now at my current very own 6 bay facility with 4 employees and I just bumped up my rate to $75/hour. I have 2 national chains that share the same wall (Meieneke and Precision tune) and they charge $95/hour.
      Problem is, I still have customers that come to me from my $35/hr days and feel extremely bad and guilty for charging new rate. Should I be? Best way to implement change without losing customers? From the customers perspective, do you think they understand the operating costs and justification in price increase?
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    • By Joe Marconi
      Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating. 
      One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver.  You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long.  Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on.  Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart. 
      So, here's what you are going to do.  Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate.  Nothing expensive.  During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do."
      Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them. 
      The second thing that will happen is this:  The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first?  Yes...Yours!
       
    • By Joe Marconi
      Roughly a month ago, I went to lunch with a good friend of mine. He works for the YMCA, so we discussed what the YMCA does to attract new members. A few years ago, my friend and his team realized that while they were good at attracting new members each year, they had little to no retention. It was a constant battle to bring in new members to fill the void of lost members.
      The YMCA realized that it’s easier and less expensive to keep existing members, than to go out and find new ones. They created a new marketing strategy with a focus on keeping existing members. The plan was simple: create an amazing experience for their members and offer new programs to these existing members. The plan worked. Member retention improved. What worked for the YMCA will also work for your business.
      Before you spend a dime on advertising, you need to understand one crucial component of your business; the customer experience. Without a great customer experience that gives your existing customers a compelling reason to return, you’re simply wasting your money on advertising.
      Advertising is often aimed at new-customer acquisition. There is nothing wrong with this. Every business loses clientele each year for a number of reasons, and we need to get our name out to our community about who we are and what we do in order to attract new consumers. But, to rely on new customer acquisition alone without a plan to keep existing customers is not a strategy for long-term, sustained growth.
      Every marketing plan starts with looking at your entire operation and how it relates to the customer experience. Are you doing all you can to create an amazing experience that builds solid relationships? If not, you will be in the same position the YMCA was: using advertising to fill the void of lost customers.
      While there are many aspects of the customer experience, let’s focus today on the four essential areas: The customer write-up, the sales process, the car delivery and the follow-up. Each of these touch points must be executed with one thing in mind: create an experience so amazing that the customer will have a compelling reason to return your shop again.
      Customer write-up starts the process. It’s where you begin the relationship or continue to preserve it. It must be performed as if you are welcoming a guest into your home. The sales process must communicate value and benefits to the customer. This gives the customer peace of mind, reduces anxiety and buyer’s remorse. The car delivery is your chance to leave a lasting positive impression of you and your company. It should not be a transaction, but instead the opportunity to resell the job, you and your company. The car delivery should not be rushed. Take the time to review the invoice, ask the customer if they have any questions. Let every customer know how important they are and how much you value his or her confidence and trust in you and your company. The follow-up continues the customer experience. This is where you reach out to the customer with a phone call, email, or thank-you card. It helps with customer retention by making another positive impression in the mind of the customer.
      Getting back to car delivery: Make sure you review all future service recommendations and let the customer know that they will receive a service reminder. But don’t rely on a postcard or email alone to bring back customers. Think about this: If you had a bad experience at a restaurant, no offer or ad is going to get you back there—only an amazing experience will. The same holds true for your business.
      By the way, an amazing customer experience is created by the people in your company. Sure, you need to have a clean, well kept facility with nice amenities. But it’s the people in your company that make the difference. Billion dollar stadiums don’t win championships—it’s the quality of the players on the field that win championships. Everyone in your company is part of your marketing plan. A simple smile and hello from a technician when a customer walks past the bays can do more for your business than any ad can.
      Let me leave you with this thought: Customers will not remember the mass airflow sensor you installed or the exhaust leak you repaired. But they will remember their experience. A positive experience is lasting in the mind of the consumer. It’s the most powerful marketing tool you have—and it’s virtually free.
       
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on September 1st, 2018


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    • By Joe Marconi
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    • By Joe Marconi
      Shop production is a hot topic these days.  High production results in higher sales and profits.  But there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome to achieve high production levels.  
      I was discussing production with a few shop owners, and one shop owner mentioned that he recently hired a shop foreman; an “A” tech in his early 50’s.  The foreman uses his knowledge and skills to organize the work flow.  For younger techs, it’s even more important that they know how to work and keep productive.
      What are your thoughts?   Does anyone else have a foreman or similar position?  And how does this role affect production?
       
    • By Joe Marconi
      July 4th is this Wednesday. And as a shop owner, it means that sales may suffer.  But, there is more to life than sales.  Celebrate July 4th; commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence!   Speak with your employees about their plans for the holiday. This will send a message that you care about them as people, and that it’s not always about business.   
      With the right attitude, you will build morale and you will make up those sales. And let’s face it; we all need a little time off now and then. 
       
       


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