By Joe Marconi
Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on a deserted island. I charge for diagnostic analysis. Why? Because I know what cost is to buy the tools, equipment, information systems, training and pay a technician to professionally and accurately diagnosis a check engine light, air bag, ABS or any other complicated problem. But, I feel a lot of shops are willing to give this up in hopes to get the work. In my opinion all they are doing is digging themselves in a hole.
And, I have heard all the reasons:
“If the customer gives me the job, I waive the analysis”.
“I package the analysis into the repair, so the customer does not see the diag charges”
“I will lose customers if I charge analysis”
And the best yet: “It only took me 10 minutes to diag the O2 sensor, so I can’t charge diag labor”.
Waiving the analysis is the same as a doctor waiving the x-rays and blood tests. They don’t do it, we should not either. I will also challenge those who “package” the analysis into the repair. You mean to tell me that after taking 1 hour to find a faulty mass air sensor, you will add the 1 hour to the 5 minutes it takes to install a new mass air? Come on, we all know the truth.
And let’s address the 10 minutes it took to find the failed O2 sensor. Did it really take 10 minutes? NO, it took years of training, years of experience, the investment in the right equipment and the investment in the right information systems. Why we sometimes diminish what we are truly worth is amazing. No other profession does that.
Sorry for being so tough on this topic, but business is hard enough these days and people question everything. If shops don’t realize what they are giving up, it makes it bad for all of us.
Please tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Or any other thoughts....
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
We're eager to do whatever we can to help shop owners sort through the challenges that have come along with the Coronavirus, so have decided to host a complimentary webinar this Thursday (3/19) from 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM Pacific Time.
During this special session industry leaders Bob Cooper and Kevin Vaught will be sharing some tips on what you can do to protect your employees, your customers and your business.
Join us and you will learn...
- What to tell your customers and why
- How to better protect your employees and your customers
- How to maintain your car counts & sales during these difficult times
- How to better control your expenses
- How to ensure you are able to weather any financial storm
Seating is limited, so click on the following registration link to reserve your spot today: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6233489164748174347
By Mail Shark
This informative article discusses digital vehicle inspections and the importance of using it to attract new customers. With contributions from Chris Cloutier from Autotext.me & Tony Mercury from AutoShop Solutions, there is a lot of great info here.
If your shop is considering, or has already invested in Digital Vehicle Inspection (DVI) technology, you clearly understand the tremendous value and benefits that DVI provides. However, the vast majority of the general public does not understand what it is or how it benefits them. After speaking to several shop owners who conveyed to me that their customers have no idea what DVI is when they come into their shops, we decided to ask a random sampling of 104 consumers ages 18+ who all own and have had vehicle repairs within the past 12 months:
“Do you know what a Digital Vehicle Inspection is in relation to getting your vehicle serviced or repaired?”
I’m sure that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Like many technologies, consumer education simply just takes time. This lack of consumer awareness is a problem for shop owners who are currently utilizing DVI technology and want to use this powerful technology to capitalize on its ability to differentiate their shop from competitors.
How Can DVI Differentiate Your Shop?
Implementation of DVI technology, from a marketing perspective, can help position your shop as professional and highly educated by using the most advanced technology to service and repair your customers’ vehicles. It just may be the most powerful tool at your disposal to create and position your shop as TRUSTWORTHY.
How DVI Creates Trust & Why It’s So Important?
The primary benefit of DVI technology, from a customer prospective, is that it provides them with full transparency to their repairs/services needed. Whenever you bring transparency to what is generally a non-transparent process, it adds a tremendous amount of TRUST.
Being able to convey that potential customers can TRUST your shop is arguably the most critical component to attract them to your shop and, of course, to maintain current customer relationships.
Two out of three U.S. drivers simply don’t trust auto repair shops based on the findings from AAA, with the top reason for the lack of trust being “Recommending Unnecessary Services.”
Top Reasons Why U.S. Drivers Distrust Repair Shops:
According to AAA
This is further echoed by some of the latest consumer research from the Mintel 2019 AUTO SERVICE, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR market research report. When asked why they chose their auto service/ repair location over the previous 12 months, beyond shop location and being a returning customer, the top reason reported by respondents was TRUST. The TRUST factor came in above both quality and cost.
Just think about that for a second. We know that the primary reason consumers don’t trust auto repair shops is due to the feeling that they have been recommended unnecessary repairs. We also know that trustworthiness is one of the top factors in determining which auto repair shop they have chosen. Therefore, If these same prospective customers understand that your use of DVI can eliminate these concerns, it would undoubtedly give you a major advantage over your competition. For some thoughtful industry insight, we reached out to Chris Cloutier; DVI guru, successful multi-shop owner and founder of autotext.me, a leading auto repair shop technology software provider that offers DVI technology and many more digital features.
What Does Chris Have to Say?
“As a multi-shop owner, I can attest that many customers are indeed very wary about being charged for unnecessary repairs and have a need for trust to be established, which the DVI greatly helps to solve. For example, the Digital Vehicle Inspection service offered by autotext.me can include multiple pictures and short videos, which serve to educate customers on overall vehicle health and repair needs and recommendations.
Chris Cloutier Autotext.me
By pulling back the curtain and enabling customers to understand the “why” behind recommended repairs, repair shops are able to boost customer confidence as well as increase their Average Repair Order (ARO) if the DVI is properly executed.
A new feature we recently launched, Customer Insights, drills down even further to provide shops with helpful analytics on DVI customer engagement. Shops will be able to see if and when a picture or video was viewed along with whether a video was viewed in its entirety. autotext.me clients can leverage this data to determine how to communicate better with customers and establish best practices for DVI documentation by technicians.
Think about the power a service advisor will now have before talking to a customer. “Mrs Jones, I see you didn’t look at the pictures of your brake pads that are metal to metal. Could you please open those up for me?”
Vehicle inspections are not just a tool to increase your ARO. The ARO increase that shops might anticipate is from one thing only, and that is an informed client. If your client is not being fully informed by your inspection, wouldn’t you like to know?”
Now, the question becomes “what can you do to capitalize on your use of DVI technology to attract new customers?” The answer is, to deploy a strategic and aggressive multi-channel marketing approach.
Direct Mail + A Multi-Channel Marketing Approach is the Answer
First, let’s take a look at why Direct Mail is one of the most powerful tools you can use to promote DVI, followed up with some additional insight from Tony Mercury, Digital Marketing Expert from Auto Shop Solutions, for his perspective, thoughts, and suggestions to help you jump-start your shop’s digital marketing efforts in order to promote your DVI as part of your multi-channel marketing approach.
Why Should You Be Using Direct Mail to Promote DVI?
Direct Mail Is a Trusted Marketing Method
For starters, choosing to utilize direct mail as a marketing platform will ensure your message gets delivered in a method that is also trusted by consumers.
MarketingSherpa, a research and training institute and division of MECLABS, the largest independent research facility, asked 1,200 consumers: “In general, which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision? Please sort the options into ‘Ads I trust’ and ‘Ads I don’t trust that much’ categories.” Below are the results for the “Ads I trust” category.
The results speak for themselves; 76% of the consumers involved in the survey trust direct mail when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
Now, let’s take a look at some important considerations when developing your Direct Mail Marketing strategy.
Consistency is Key
Being consistent with your message is going to be critical in order to educate your prospective customers on the benefits of DVI. We already know there is a lack of consumer awareness, which is why consistency is of utmost importance here. Ensure your message is delivered consistently and across all channels you are using to market your shop.
Don’t Just Say You Offer DVI, Explain the Features & Benefits
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to merely mention that you offer Digital Vehicle Inspections. It’s critical that the ad copy to support your DVI marketing Campaign gives customers a clear & concise explanation of what a DVI is and, most importantly, conveys how they will benefit from it. Just saying you offer Digital Video Inspections alone without additional context will mean nothing to a consumer and be a wasted effort.
Strategic Ad Copy
In addition to promoting DVI to create trust, you should also be thinking about what else you can include on your direct mail, plus all of your other marketing to support your initiative and on all of your other marketing for that matter, that will support your initiative to position your shop as Trustworthy.
One easy way to do this is by simply telling your targeted prospective customers that they can trust you. According to Roger Dooley, author and expert on the subject of Neuromarketing, “Researchers found that placing the following statement at the end of an ad for an auto service firm caused their trust scores to jump as much as 33%:
“You can trust us to do the job for you.”
This one simple phrase caused consumers to rate the auto service firm in this ad higher in all categories:
Tie It Together With a Strategic Testimonial
Ask one of your Happy Customers for a testimonial that includes their experience with your shop’s DVI process and how they trust your shop because of this process. This will add credibility and give your prospects feedback from a point of view they can relate to.
Choose The Correct Direct Mail Piece(s)
Choosing the right direct mail piece to convey your message is important. You may want to consider using a larger Jumbo 8.5″ × 10.5″ Postcard or even a 10.5″ × 17″ Tri-Fold Brochure to your direct mail program. These larger pieces will give you more space for strategic ad copy to promote DVI as well as other services that a smaller card may not allow for due to size constraints.
That said, you can still use a standard 5.5″ × 10.5″ or comparable size postcard to do the job for you as well. Just make sure that you have the right ad copy. You don’t want your card to be too cluttered with content that it makes the piece illegible or too busy that it becomes confusing.
A Multi-Channel Marketing Approach
Tony Mercury Autoshop Solutions
As we mentioned above, due to the lack of consumer awareness of DVI, the use of a multi-channel marketing approach is critical with this type of consumer education marketing campaign. To add some additional insight from a digital marketing perspective, we asked Tony Mercury from Autoshop Solutions, a premier digital marketing agency for auto repair shops, for his thoughts.
For an effective educational campaign, Tony suggests that you create a short but concise video to show the DVI in action to demonstrate its benefits and the value it provides to prospective clients.
Once you have that video, he recommends using that content on your website, Facebook page and, if you’re using it, Instagram. In addition to the video, Tony suggests accompanying it with a few paragraphs of strategic content to not only support your message, but also benefit from an SEO perspective, and you’ll be on your way to a successful campaign.
Using direct mail is one of the most powerful ways to drive prospects online to watch your informative DVI video, according to Tony. He suggests using a QR Code on your direct mail piece/s that, when scanned, immediately opens up your DVI video and allows prospective customers to view it on demand. Just make sure to instruct your prospects with a clear Call to Action if you want to ensure they scan the QR code or go to your website/social platforms to learn more.
You can also access by clicking the link below or downloading the attached PDF. https://www.themailshark.com/resources/articles/digital-vehicle-inspections-your-auto-repair-shops-marketing-secret-weapon/ Digital Vehicle Inspections Your Auto Repair Shops Marketing Secret Weapon.pdf
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By Mail Shark
In today’s hustle and bustle world, consumers want to work with companies that make doing business easy & convenient.
If your auto repair shop offers online appointment scheduling, you most certainly want to include content that conveys that message on your direct mail and other marketing. It can help position you as the local repair shop that makes doing business easy by giving customers another convenient way to schedule their repair or maintenance services.
As a standard, I suggest my clients add the following verbiage or a variation of, positioned above their phone number and website
“Call Today or Conveniently Schedule Online”
In addition, I recommend utilizing a QR code, that when scanned takes your customers directly to your online appointment scheduling web page. Customers that are apt to schedule their appointments online will no doubt appreciate the convenience, making it even easier for them to book their appointment from their smart phones or tablet by simply scanning your QR code as opposed to having to type out a long URL such as:
Attached is an example showing one side of a 5.5x10.5 Direct Mail Postcard:
Now, I know what many of you may be thinking, “Do people still use QR Codes?” I’m not using my psychic abilities; I’ve simply been asked countless times by auto repair shop owners. Many shop owners seem to think QR codes are a thing of the past, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The QR code market is on a steep rise. According to Juniper Research, by 2022, 5.3 billion QR code coupons will be redeemed by smartphones and 1 billion smartphones will access QR codes.
In my opinion there is no reason you should not be using this technology. Utilizing a QR code can’t have any negative affect on your business and there is only upside potential to add more convenience and make your shop easier to schedule an appointment with.
A few final thoughts:
It’s important to note, after creating countless QR codes for auto repair shops, I have noticed that when clicking on the online appointment scheduling link on many shop websites, it does not take you to a different URL when accessing the online appointment page. Instead, it keeps you on the same page you are on with an online appointment scheduling pop up. If this is the case on your shop’s website, you will not be able to link a QR code direct to your specific online appointment scheduling page. You can still utilize it to drive your prospects to your website and then from there they will have to navigate to this page as compared to them scanning the QR code and landing directly on your online scheduling page.
If your shop doesn’t offer online appointment scheduling, you can still utilize QR Codes for many different things. Below is a short list to give you some ideas of what QR codes can easily link your customers to.
· Any Website URL
· Google Maps Location
· YouTube Video
· Contact Details
· Image File
· Etc. etc.
Finally, we have some PRO Tips to help you get the most out of the use of your QR code.
PRO Tip #1: Basic QR codes should be FREE from your direct mail partner and many QR code services give you the ability to create a special QR codes that allow you to track the number of times your QR code is scanned. You can then test the use of your QR code and have transparency as to whether your QR code is being scanned by consumers.
PRO Tip #2: Never Use a QR Code without labeling it with what its purpose is. You will most likely get zero scans or far less using a QR code without a label.
PRO Tip #3: I don’t recommend using more than one QR code on your direct mail marketing piece. Use the link you feel customers will find the most convenience in and stick with a that one.
PRO Tip #4: You can also create custom QR code images to further enhance the appeal of your QR code. This is typically with paid QR code services. Attached is an example of how Mail Shark created a custom QR code to make it seamless for our prospective auto repair shop clients to get a quote and samples.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]
By Joe Marconi
We all have those customers that focus on price alone. And we all struggle with our persistent attempts at converting them into believers. Believers of the concept that, while we cannot totally dismiss price, it’s the value of the product or service the customer needs to consider when making a purchase. What’s funny about these customers is that each visit tends to start with a complaint about price, even before the car is looked at. We recently had a situation that started off on the wrong foot, with price being the issue; but ended up a win for us, and for the customer.
Charlie Challenge (not his real name) arrived at our shop and asked for an estimate on replacing the timing chain for his Nissan Altima. My service advisor responded with, “Mr. Challenge, that’s a big job. How do you know your car needs a timing chain?” Charlie replied back, “Another shop checked it out and they told me it does. Can you please give me a price?” My advisor continued with, “Well, before we do anything, we need to perform a few tests to make sure you really do need a timing chain.” Charlie emphatically replied back, “And how much is that going to cost? All you guys want is my money! I asked for one thing; a price on a timing chain and you just want to make more money on something I already know I need!”
It took a lot of composure, but my advisor calmly stated all the reasons why testing is the best way to go, emphasizing the fact that if we replace the chain and it’s not the problem, the money spent would be wasted. Charlie shook his head, threw the keys on the counter and authorized the testing.
I’ve known Charlie for a long time. He’s not a bad guy. But price is always the topic of discussion. He has told me in the past that I should take a look at what other shops charge, and be more competitive with my prices. I have told Charlie that I don’t, and never will, price my services by what other shops are charging. I have also told him to look beyond price and look at the value you get. Besides, all the quality shops that I know are pretty much the same when it comes to pricing.
During the write-up process, Charlie revealed to my service advisor that the check engine light had been on, and that’s why he took his car to the other shop. The other shop replaced a valve timing solenoid, but that didn’t fix the problem. He was then told that the next step was to replace the chain.
Later that morning, the car was dispatched to a technician. A multipoint inspection was performed, along with all the tests related to the check engine light; which was a timing error. After the MPI and the tests were completed, we found a few things wrong with Charlie’s car. His Altima needed an oil change service, a battery, rear brakes, an air filter, the cabin filter had a mouse nest in it and the car needed an intake timing control sensor, not a timing chain. This engine has two intake control solenoids. One was supposedly replaced by the other shop. So, did this car have two bad sensors? Or was the wrong sensor replaced by mistake?
When my service advisor called Charlie to tell him the good news, he was silent for a moment. He was shocked that the car didn’t need a timing chain. He authorized the solenoid replacement, the oil change and replacing the mouse-infested cabin filter. He declined the other work.
I purposely did the follow-up call with Charlie a few days later. He was happy to hear from me and told me that car hadn’t run this good in years. I had to needle him a bit, “So Charlie, are we really expensive? We saved you a ton of money by doing the tests first and not just replacing the chain.” He said, “Ok Joe, I get it, I really do this time.”
During our conversation, Charlie did confess that he didn’t go to another shop, but actually went to that all-knowing, all-powerful place on the internet known as Google. It was Charlie that replaced the solenoid, not realizing there were two, and not knowing how to properly test the system either.
When I asked Charlie why he didn’t let us replace the battery, air filter and the rear brakes, he replied, “Joe, come on, I can do that work myself, and besides, you guys are expensive.”
Sometimes you win the battle, but it’s hard to win the war with some customers.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on October 1st, 2019
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By Joe Marconi
Got your attention? Good!
Take it from me, a shop owner for 40 years; before you invest a dime on advertising, get your internal marketing in order....in other words...get your house in order.
No amount of advertising or marketing means more than what you do each and every day. And that is creating an amazing customer experience that gives your customers a compelling reason to return.
Make sure that each customer contact point creates a positive experience. The phone call, the drive up to your shop, the parking lot, the customer write-up, the upsell, the car delivery and every other point of contact with the customer.
These things I speak of means more than any money you spend on advertising. So, before you spend that dime, get your house in order. And remember, everyone in your shop is an important part of your marketing strategy!
In may I quit my job of 9 years and purchased an auto repair shop. I was previously employed as a field mechanic for Cummins. At my shop we focus on general repair. It's been a whirlwind since I bought the place but i couldn't be happier to be here. I've included some pictures of the shop.
By Mail Shark
I hear a lot of auto repair shop owners say they don't want to offer a cheap oil change coupon on their direct mail marketing. They feel the cheap oil change coupon brings in the wrong clientele, and they don't want to devalue their brand and position themselves as the cheap oil change shop.
As a quick note, the concept behind the cheap oil change offer is that it is a loss leader and utilized to entice new customers. The key is getting new customers through the door, which the cheap oil change can be extremely effective at doing. Once you get them in your shop and you do a great job for them, you can build a great rapport with them and win them over as a loyal customer.
All that said, you will always know your business better than any marketing company. Therefore, we certainly can't argue with the fact that you would not like to use this strategy if in fact you have already executed a cheap oil change coupon campaign and it did bring in the wrong clientele.
However, having an oil change coupon as part of your shop's direct mail marketing strategy is critical. Here are a few reasons why.
An oil change is something that every non-electric vehicle owner will need at some point in time. Consequently, I would venture to say that most vehicle owners are familiar with what an oil change is more so than any other maintenance service. Compare that to a timing belt replacement coupon or a serpentine belt replacement, each of which the average consumer may not be familiar. When you have a coupon that is familiar and relevant to everyone that you are targeting, you have a much higher chance of increasing redemption rates.
Therefore, for those shop owners that are afraid of attracting the wrong clientele or devaluing their brand with a low-price point oil change, the simple fix is to increase your oil change price point to a number that you are comfortable with and that is still a value from a consumer perspective. An alternate option would be to offer a specific $ off discount that you are comfortable with — for example, $10 off any conventional oil change & 15 off any full synthetic.
My next recommendation, if you are a general auto repair shop, which is a non-negotiable one, in my opinion, is to structure your oil change coupon to offer both a conventional and full synthetic oil change offer. All too often, shop owners only offer a conventional oil change coupon. A conventional oil change coupon is fine. However, it will never appeal or be applicable to owners of vehicles that require full synthetic oil. There is no reason to limit your offer to only appeal to a specific set of vehicles. It's crucial you cast a wider net and appeal to as many vehicle owners as possible. The simple and quick solution is to offer both options.
PRO TIP: if you are concerned about coupons bringing in the wrong clientele, think again. Even the wealthiest consumers use coupons.
Here is a snippet from our blog post entitled "WHY YOU SHOULD BE SENDING DIRECT MAIL COUPONS:
It might seem surprising, but wealthy people love saving money with coupons. In fact, households with annual incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to use coupons than households earning less than $35,000 a year.
Wealthy customers may be able to afford your most expensive products and services, but that doesn't mean they don't want a good deal. The majority of them are cautious about spending money and rarely make frivolous, unnecessary purchases. Rather than viewing your business as cheap, they'll appreciate your coupons and the opportunity to save money,
You can check out the entire blog post here.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]
Oil Change Coupon Example.pdf
I was looking for some input into advertising. I have really not done any the last 25 years. We are rebranding or should I say changing directions a little. Going back to tires, brakes ,alignment and maintence. When I did it last other than the phone book we did a little newspaper. I think those have basically gone. So many options out there, I just do not want to throw a bunch of money away on the wrong advertising. Any help would surely be appreciated. Sincerely David
By Mail Shark
If you haven’t considered or utilized direct mail postcard magnets to attract new customers, now is the time to reevaluate this medium.
Over the past 9 years, I have seen first-hand how effective direct mailing a postcard magnet can be for new customer acquisition as well as customer retention. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), who is quite a credible source, also reported in their DMA Statistical Fact Book that “A postcard with a magnet attached is read at least 51.9% more often than a traditional postcard.” With that said, I cannot speak to how this study was conducted, but this directly correlates to my real-world experience mailing millions of postcard magnets for our clients over the years.
Why is now the right time to mail a postcard magnet?
Postcard magnets are effective all year round. However, now is the perfect time to capitalize on the recently released NFL schedules, which will give you a great opportunity to beat your competitors. You’ll be the first company to get your region’s favorite team schedules on the fridge of your prospective customers.
Another reason postcard magnets are so effective is this simple fact. Your target prospects may not have a broken car or need your services the exact day that you target them. Therefore, it is imperative that you are top of mind when a need arises and that’s exactly what postcard magnets accomplish. Consumers get them and intuitively put them on their fridge, keeping your brand constantly visible in their home.
There are a number of companies that offer this product so get quotes & compare services. Again, it’s the perfect is the perfect time to execute this product.
I have attached a few samples to give you a better idea of what the product can look like.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]