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 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 Joe Marconi
Your lead tech is not performing up to expectations. Shop production is slipping and you’re not sure why. You hear through the grapevine that some of your employees are wondering when they will get their next pay raise. After a few agonizing weeks of pouring through reports, you make the decision to give across-the-board pay raises. Almost immediately, you see a boost in production. The shop is more upbeat and all is well. Your decision appears to be correct. Three months later, your shop is once again struggling to meet its sales and production goals—and morale has slipped, too.
I have seen this scenario all too often. And, while there are times that we need to give pay raises, if your shop is struggling to meet its sales and production goals, increasing pay to improve business is not the answer. The reality is you have deeper issues.
Let’s address employee compensation first. You must pay people a competitive wage with the opportunity to earn more. There should be incentives in place to reward your employees for reaching their personal and team goals. And, there needs to be a process in place where your employees understand how and when they will get a pay raise.
However, in terms of long-term company growth, a focus on pay alone will never be the formula for success. In other words, throwing money at a problem is a short-term fix. It’s putting a Ban-Aid on a more serious injury that requires much more care and attention.
About 10 years ago, Mercedes-Benz was struggling with its customer experience at many of its dealerships. In response to this, Mercedes decided to increase pay incentives, implement new policies and training programs. No improvements were realized. Mercedes top executives could not understand why customer service was not up to company expectations. After all, this is Mercedes, a car company that represents quality and sophistication. Why were their dealer employees so indifferent?
A senior leader at Mercedes recognized the problem and stated, “Pride in the brand was not quite as strong as we thought, the level of engagement with work was not as deep as we thought.” Mercedes finally realized that until the employees at Mercedes genuinely cared more, no amount of money, policies or training would make a difference.
Understanding the need to get front-line people more engaged and take pride in their work, Mercedes began to invite its dealer employees to spend 48 hours with the model of their choice. To experience not only the amazing performance and mechanical attributes of the vehicle, but also that they can turn heads as they drive through their neighborhoods or when they drive into the little league parking lot.
Mercedes also built its Brand Immersion Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2014, where hundreds of employees go each year to spend time getting to know how the cars are built, gain a deeper understanding of the brand, the history of Mercedes and experience the legacy of the company. According to Philippa Green, brand immersion trainer for Mercedes-Benz, “The ultimate goal is to engage their hearts and minds around the brand. We’re teaching them about our legacy.”
As business owners, we track KPIs, set goals, work on marketing and refine our business plans. We also ensure that we provide our employees with adequate training and a well-equipped environment. These are the essentials of our business. However, we must never overlook the importance of your employees taking pride in their work. And, pride comes from employees knowing who you are, what you stand for, what you do for your community and for the industry.
Giving people pay raises can motivate them. But the bounce you get from that is short-lived. Once people have gotten over the excitement of the raise and made the financial adjustments to their lifestyles, the raise is long forgotten. If there are no other intrinsic motivators, then shop morale, production and employee engagement will fall right back to where it was before the raise.
Anyone who knows me and has read my articles, knows how much I preach about leadership. The theme of this article also has its roots in effective leadership. You, the leader of your company, have the power to transform the people around you. Focus on the person, not the position. Recognize when your employees do things that are from the heart. Promote your company’s brand, vision and legacy. These are the keys to a long-lasting company. This is what will improve morale, not a pay raise.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on March 1st, 2020
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