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By Bob Cooper
A while back I had the opportunity to interview over forty people for a panel of customers. My intent was to discover what drives their decisions in choosing an auto service facility, how they make their purchasing decisions, and the follow up they would like to see after bringing their vehicles in to a shop. I spent well over an hour with most of these prospective panelists, so I had the opportunity to learn many amazing things. I would like to take a moment to share one of the most valuable insights I was able to obtain from these interviews….
Regardless of the length of time the people I interviewed had been patronizing the same independent repair facility, one of the questions I asked each of them was, “If a service advisor told you that you needed a complete transmission or an engine, would you authorize repair?” The overwhelming majority of the people I interviewed said that before they would authorize such an expensive repair, they would first contact the dealership or a transmission shop. When I asked why, the standard response was, “Bob, you have to understand that a transmission or an engine can be pretty complicated, so I’d want talk to an expert first.”
I came to a number of conclusions after speaking with all of these customers. First of all, most independent repair shops are not doing a good enough job of educating their customers on their level of competency and skill. Secondly, your customers are no different than you are when it comes to looking for expert advice. Look at it like this… Imagine you have been going to the same doctor for years, and have a tremendous amount of faith in that doctor. Then imagine that doctor told you that you had a problem with your lower back. Even though your doctor may be very skilled with lower back problems, and possibly even better skilled than many orthopedic surgeons, I suspect you’d still feel more comfortable speaking with an orthopedic surgeon. Why? Because they’re viewed as the “experts” when it comes to back problems. Believe it or not, your customers are no different. If you have a general auto repair shop, they’ll look at you like they look at their friendly family doctor—good for most things, but not necessarily the expert.
The “expert” perception plays a huge role in how brake shops are able to generate new customers. You might think they attract customers by offering low-priced brake services, but in reality that’s not the case. The reason they are continually able to bring in customers is because the motoring public perceives them to be what they are looking for: the brake experts.
So here’s my suggestion to you: if you want to build a more profitable, successful business, then one of the things you’ll need to do is brand yourself as the “expert” in every way that you can. Those of you that have specialty shops, such as transmission shops, brake shops, etc., should incorporate the word “expert” into all of your marketing campaigns. Those of you who have general auto repair facilities should use terms such as “The SUV experts”, “Toyota experts,” etc. Your customers are looking for an expert for all aspects of their lives, so when it comes to auto repair and service, make sure that they know in very clear terms, it’s you.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
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By Joe Marconi
I want to take this time at Thanksgiving to say thank you to all AutoShopOwner members. We have a lot to be thankful for and ASO would not be the great sucess if it were not for all the amazing members and the contributions you make to the forums.
From the very start of the ASO, the goal was to raise the level of the auto repair industry and to help each other through the day today operations of running a repair shop. We have done that a more! And there is more to come in the future!
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
By Jay Huh
So I watched this teaser video from last years 2016 Ratchet + Wrench conference. The guy is banning the word "diagnostic."
Personally I think the guy is GENIUS.
Diagnostic is such a watered down term now. People think the guys at Autozone "diagnose" their cars for free.
I've told my advisors and techs to use the terms "test" and "analyze" like the guy mentioned in the video.
For example, if customer comes in for an overheating issue and wants to know why: previously we said "it'll be $38 to diagnose why your car is overheating." Problem with this is that it could be so many different things, if we use the words "test" and "analyze" it becomes:
"Hey John, we need to TEST your cooling system by pressurizing it and ANALYZE it for any leaks. It'll be $38 to do this test." This is GENIUS! Why? because the customer will be happy because he knows what we are testing and feels that his money is being well spent instead of a "diagnostic" which conjures up images of a guy just sticking the code reader to the obd port.
If it ends up NOT being a leak: "Hey John, we tested the cooling system and the good thing is, there's no leak. WE need to now make sure you are getting good coolant flow and test to make sure there's no clog in the lines... or test the water pump.... test head gasket by anazlyzing combustion bubbles entering the system... etc"
Let's be honest, how many times have we pulled out our hairs diagnosing vehicles and only getting paid/charging .5?? Not only do we get what we deserve with "test" and "analyze" but the customer is happy too!
Can anyone that went to the conference last year chime in?? This is from watching the first 7min of the video (have to pay to watch the rest, which I don't mind but thinking about buying the all access pass for 2017) and I'm thinking this is where the instructor was heading.... correct me if I'm wrong and what do you guys think??? Let's get some good discussions going
By Joe Marconi
I am proud to announce that AutoShopOwner.com will soon reach 3000 members! And the thanks goes to you, the members of ASO. The posts and content are top quality and relevant to the auto repair industry. The discussions are great resources for shop management, advertising, marketing, employee management and much more.
My goal for 2016 is to increase membership to 4000. And with your help,we can do it. Spread the word, but most important; keep posting comments and participating in the forums.
Again, thanks to all members for making AutoShopOwner.com the number one go-to online source for repair shop owners.
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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 Ron Ipach
I'm going to go out here on a limb here and tell you -
YOUR ONLINE REVIEWS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ATTRACTING MORE CAR COUNT!
First of all, the reviews given by your customers reveal the health of your business. If your customers aren't saying good things about you, that's a warning sign that you better get your act together right now and start providing a better experience for your customers.
Also, if you only have a few handfuls out of all the hundreds or thousands of customers you've worked saying good things - that's not a healthy sign either. They may like, or even love, doing business with you, but if they aren't telling the world (aka writing an online review), their little secret is hurting your chances to attract more car count.
You see, studies show that 92% of folks will read reviews before making a buying decision, and if you don't have a stellar reputation (4.7 or higher), they'll move on to the next shop.
In fact, I advise that you completely stay away from any form of online advertising for new customers unless your score is at least a 4.7 out of 5.0. Why? Because your prospective new customer will easily be able to compare you with everyone else and will more than likely choose the shop with the better reputation - negating all the time, money, and effort you've put into your advertising efforts.
Look, you can argue with me all you want, but we're talking human nature here. Most will always go with the higher recommended shop. Why not? If you don't have a great reputation score, all you're really doing is advertising for your competitors that do.
But your score isn't the only factor being looked at. There are actually three factors that are important about your reviews.
1. Quality (4.7 or higher overall score is needed)
2. Quantity (These days, a minimum of 75 reviews are needed, but in highly competitive areas, 150+ is needed)
3. Recency (You must be getting 1 or 2 new reviews every single week)
=== So you say you do a great job, your customers love you, but they just aren't writing those positive reviews that you need in order to let the rest of the world know how awesome you are, right? Here are three ways to get more reviews:
1. Ask. (Duh!)
2. Bribe. This has been very effective for a lot of my clients in the past, however it's also considered a no-no by the review sites and may get your account shut down if they find out.
3. Use an automated service like Soapboxx to do it for you that will email or text your customers after their service, ask if they were happy, and then send them directly to Google, Facebook, YP, or wherever you wish so they can write a quick word about their experience.
Soapboxx is the only automated review-boosting service created specifically for the auto repair industry and the beta-testing of the software has just been completed. (See just a few of the remarks from the users below) Go to www.Soapboxx.io for more details.
Check out what some of the members of the new Soapboxx platform are saying...
Whatever you choose to do, ask, bribe, or automate the whole thing - put getting more 4-5 star reviews at the top of your to-do list. It's simply the best thing you can do to help attract more car count to your shop!
By Carl Spandau
hello! i just opened a shop and am having a hard time gaining traction. im looking for some marketing techniques that work good for new business. i have tried social media and google add words with zero results. also are any of the social media marketing company's any good? the ones that call 20 times a day claiming to manage everything and create material for your pages. seems like the only people stopping by are the previous tenants customers and he did not have the best clientele. he marketed heavily discounted repairs, free estimates, bring your own parts. everything i dont want. I would appreciate any tips to getting people into my shop
my shop is a 4 bay with just me and my wife. very clean and remodeled with all the tools a shop needs except an alignment rack.
thank you for your time!
Is it just me? or does it seem that lately there are a lot of businesses being started that insert themselves into the flow of existing transactions only to harvest your profits and lesson the margins of those doing the work and accepting responsibility (us). I am referring to technology companies: Repair Pal, Openbay, CarFix and now Blockchain to mention a few. It is frustrating to me after having built a business (brick and mortar), purchased equipment, hired employees, provide training, accepted full responsibility and risk, supported my community only to have a startup backed by money hungry venture capitalists attempt to erode our profit margin.
I find the statements from co-founder Vladimir Lupenko of Blockchain in this months Ratchet & Wrench extremely arrogant: "The repair industry is huge, and people always get cheated" "We use reputable and undisputable technical data to set the market and price rate". Vladimir goes on to say "Based on our contractual agreement , the repair shop will have to provide the service at the price we have calculated".
As good shop owners, protective of our future, we best rally against this technology, this Wolf in sheep's clothing. My research of these companies leads me to believe that no good will come from their involvement in our businesses. We, as independent shop owners, are operating in an industry some see as ripe for consolidation and this technology is just one of the signs.
I ask that anyone reading this post refuse to participate. The involvement of these companies is not a 'quick fix' for a shop needing car count. Their intention is to drive down your prices, recruit price shopping customers only and mine your data base for their benefit. If our industry sees their existence as a threat and together, refuse to become a member of their organization, they will disappear. Without shops to refer to they lose all value to the consumer and will not be able to return a profit to their investors.
To read the complete article, follow this link: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/5504-how-blockchain-technology-could-affect-your-shop
To support this research here is a seperate article from this months Ratchet & Wrench magazine discussing how to price your services for long term health and growth: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/4841-how-to-price-to-gain-customer-loyalty?utm_medium=email&utm_source=utm_code