By Joe Marconi
I can't speak about all businesses in my area, but the repair shops are doing ok. In fact, most had a normal or near normal summer. A few weeks back we had a major storm that knocked out power for nearly the week. That killed the week. But aside from that, we had a very good June, July and August. With a miserable March and April, this was a great morale lift and financial boost.
The only down side is the affect COVID is having on other businesses, like restaurants, deli's, sport businesses and other businesses. Will this have a trickle down effect on our industry. No one can tell for sure.
I will be shoring up my finances and preparing for the unknown.
By Joe Marconi
As part of our debt reduction, I revamped all of our usual marketing and advertising and put those dollars into customer service and social media. For example, we ramped up our shuttle pickup and delivery service, extended our hours of service, made sure we spend a lot of time with each customer and made sure we called as many customers as possible. We also stepped up our meet and greet process and made sure will followed up with customer after the repair. Lastly, we increased our social media posts and increases ads and boosting. This has made a huge impact on our customer and already starting to pay dividends.
What changes have you made to your marketing strategy since the Virus Crisis hit?
Has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted your auto shop business? If it hasn't yet, it has the potential to do so soon. Please share what you are currently doing, how your business is impacted, what plans you have in place, etc.
Some things to consider:
Do you have a plan in place should you or one of your employees become ill? With school, event, and business closures, how will this affect your shop? Are you sending anything to your customers in terms of sharing your plans around keeping your customer and employees healthy and doing your part in your community? Many small and large businesses have been sending email communications to their customers. Are you marketing to your customers in terms of not delaying car repair, should there be a need to temporarily close? Are your parts suppliers sharing their plans, should the pandemic affect supply chains? Are you stocking up on business and shop necessities? Please share your experience in this topic and stay healthy!
In the media:
The coronavirus and its growing tally of sick and dead victims around the world have been roiling financial markets, prompting countless hand-washing reminders and ruining more than a few vacations, and that’s before anyone knows exactly how widespread the effect will be on the automotive industry, including your local repair shop. Source
“By mid-March, the shortage of supplies will be felt and members are projecting they’ll experience disruption through May or June,” even if operations in China soon get back to normal, said Stacey Miller, senior director of communications at the Auto Care Association, a trade group representing 150,000 auto aftermarket and service businesses. Source
By Joe Marconi
Today is the first day of summer, and we are still dealing with the dreaded COVID-19. However, there are positive indicators that business will be better than expected this summer. People will be taking more road trips, will avoid airplanes, trains and Ubers and will take to the roads in record numbers.
Gear up for a great summer and look for opportunity with each vehicle visit. Perform those multipoints as if your business depends on it….why?....Because it does!
We have a lot to be thankful for. Keep positive, be a leader and thrive!
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Coronavirus has helped streamline video messaging, video conferencing, and just overall the act of watching video on various platforms. Large companies are creating weekly videos to message their employees and customers these days. Some of you may even be doing the something similar, and if not recording and sharing video, maybe at least communicating more through video. I was on linkedin and thought this video posted by @ncautoshop from L&N Performance Auto Repair was worth a share. 😁
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!
Yes they are tracking us, but we know this, right? I was with a group of people very recently, and they were all thinking about getting off their facebook accounts because of the latest backlash around facebook and their data. The hashtag #DeleteFacebook has picked up some steam and media outlets are all talking about it. Almost as if they didn't know that Facebook was collecting all of their data and when they accessed their facebook app on their phone or mobile device, facebook was tracking a lot more. That's the trade-off for using their free service. Facebook gets loads of data, shows you targeted ads, and is able to monetize that data. Google does the same, its all about the data and parsing that data for profit. Even when you delete your data, is it really gone?
So the question is, will this hurt facebook? Memberships from the younger generation are declining already, as they flock to snapchat and instagram, so now with a concern of, "what is facebook doing with my information out there", is this a problem for them? Maybe not, we'll have to wait and see.
Facebook is part of so many people's daily lives, so it will be interesting to see where this all goes and if it affects them. Facebook will not last forever because it simply isn't "cool" to the younger generation. It'll probably change and let's not forget that they own Instagram, WhatsApp and a bunch of other companies.
Tip...if you don't want your data tracked, shut off your settings in your facebook account, your apps, and your phone privacy settings. There are many tutorials online that can help you. 🙂
By Ron Ipach
I want to talk about collecting the right information from every one of your customers while they’re in your shop. What do I mean by that? When we’re talking about marketing, it’s important that we collect all the current information that we have on our customers so that we can continue to market to them. Marketing to your current customers, it’s like picking the low-hanging fruit. It’s the easiest group of people to get back into your shop, so we want to make sure that we collect all the data that we can from our customers while they’re sitting right there in our shop.
Obviously, what you want to do it get their correct name. Make sure their name is spelled correctly. Have that in you database.
Then, also, we want their mailing address. Everybody’s got a place they’re living. They’re not living in their car, chances are. So we want to make sure that we get their home address so that we can mail something to them.
The next thing on the list is we want to make sure we get their e-mail address. We want to make sure that we’re getting the right e-mail address. Not the e-mail address the junk e-mail that a lot of people, including me, I have a junk e-mail address that I give to everybody because I don’t want them to contact me. We want to make sure that we get their actual e-mail address. The one that they actually do check. It’s very important you do that.
You May Also Like: Putting An Auto Repair Ad In The Yellow Pages Then, the next thing that I want to make sure that you get is the two phone numbers that they have. One is their home phone number. Some people don’t have home phones anymore. I happen to still have a home phone number. If they don’t have their home phone number, certainly, they have a cell phone. You want to make sure that you’re collecting that data as well.
What you’re going to be able to do with all this, if you have a home address, you can send them a piece of mail. If you have an e-mail address, the good e-mail address, you can send them an e-mail. If you have their home phone number, not only can you pick up the phone to call them, I call it dialing for dollars when you’re on your slow days to see if you can get some of them to your shop, but you can also do something. It’s a technology called the voice broadcast where you record a message, and it blasts it out to everybody’s home phone number and leaves a message just like you would’ve left a message on their voicemail by calling their home if you called them one by one. This is different, where you just record it one time and it blasts it out to everybody. Then, if you get their cell phone number, you can send them a text message, and 99% of text messages get read, and 95% of them get read within the first five minutes. So it’s a very valuable way to be able to market to them.
You May Also Like: What's New In The Automotive Repair Industry? But none of this is going to work for you if you don’t have the accurate data in your database. So here’s a suggestion that you start right now, today, with the very next customer that walks through the door and you start collecting that data. Think of it like when you went to the doctor’s office the last time. What they did is they handed you that clipboard and said, “We’re updating our records. Please fill all this out.” You can protest all you want, but they’re going to make you fill those forms out every single time you go in. Why? They have insurance forms that they need to fill out, and they got to make sure everything’s accurate. You, you need to market to them. You got to run your business off of this data. So require that they fill out each and every one of those lines. Their name, their e-mail address, their phone number, their cell phone number. You want to make sure that you collect all that data so that you can market to them.
Just assume that they’re going to give you that data and no questions asked. If you just ask for an e-mail address, now there’s a dialogue that kind of goes back and forth. If you simply hand them a form that says “We need all this information for our database, for our records,” they will go ahead and fill that out. Make sure that you get that done.
You also, at the bottom of that form, you want to have like a little disclaimer that by singing below, and you want to make sure they sign it, by signing below, you are allowing Ron’s Auto Repair to contact them by mail, by phone, or any other electronic means necessary. You want to have that little catch-all, cover-your-butt legalese on there so that when they sign it, they literally have given you permission to market to them using all of those means.It all starts with good information if you want to be able to market to your current customers. Your current customers are your best source of income, and we’ll cover that on other videos like this. You got to make sure that you have the data first so that you can market to them in the future.
note: Be sure to watch the replay of my Live Webinar
By Ron Ipach
What's New In Automotive Marketing? A lot.
I'm addressing a question from a shop owner named Dave who's been in business for 28 years. He asked, "Is there anything new in the automotive repair industry?" In a word, yeah. A lot has changed in these 28 years. If we look at the car itself, obviously, you know the cars are made a whole lot better than they used to be. You're more in a maintenance business than you were in a repair business. That has changed drastically over these 28 years. Also, what's changed is the consumer, the consumer habits. The way of contacting them has changed enormously. The buying habits of the consumer have changed drastically. Your share of their attention, trying to grab their attention when they're being bombarded by all the advertising that's out there has changed drastically.
When we think about it, millennials, which is now the largest group of people that are out there, they grew up with cell phones in their hands. Everything is online. They're doing mobile searches instead of looking through the yellow pages. They buy things differently and at different times. You and I have changed a lot as well with that. When was the last time that you did some online shopping? I know I did a lot of my Christmas shopping last year online. I didn't even have to leave the house to whittle down that Christmas list. A lot of people are driving less because they can simply go on Amazon and have it delivered in a couple hours. That's changed drastically, the amount of miles that people are driving as well as people are using services like Uber and Lyft for other people to drive them. It's very inexpensive for people to get driven around. Their driving habits are changing a lot.
The one thing I can tell you is the marketing principles have not changed. The way we contact people have changed. The messages we give them have changed. The people we're marketing to have changed. All of those have changed drastically over the past 28 years, but the main principles, the core competencies of marketing really haven't changed much at all. What am I talking about? First off, we got to find the right person to market to, the person we want to attract to our shop. Second, we have to give them a very compelling message. We got to grab their attenton. As I said before, there's a lot more competition for those eyeballs. People are looking at email, they're online. They're seeing advertisements bombarding from all these different areas. We have to be a lot more savvy in how we try to attract their attention. That hasn't changed.
Then we need to give them a very compelling offer. That's a good core competency and make sure that you have that in all of your marketing as well as you got to give them a sense of urgency. We got to have the right target. We have to have the right message. We have to have the right offer, and we have to give them that sense of urgency, so that they come in right now. That all has been the same. Everything else about running the business has totally changed. If you're not keeping up with that, you're going to be left behind. Again, the marketing, the core competencies haven't changed, but everything that layers on top of that, how we deliver that message, that's changed drastically. Who we're delivering it to has changed drastically.
-- Ron Ipach (a.k.a Captain Car Count)
President/Founder of Repair Shop Coach More articles and content like this and originated through Ron Ipach's Car Count Daily campaign Auto Repair Shop Owners, Managers, and Automotive Industry Professionals are invited to join 'Car Count Daily Boosters' LinkedIn group to provide resources and gain insight on boosting car count DAILY and filling up the bays in their shops.