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Marketing Lessons From McDonald’s


Joe Marconi

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I think it’s safe to say that few people go to McDonald’s for the fine dining. In fact, McDonald’s struggled a few years back when it introduced healthy choices on its menu. Even with its challenges, McDonald’s is considered one of the most successful business models on the planet. It’s a brand that is so well known for its consistency that it actually promotes comfort in the mind of the consumer—a lesson in marketing that could prove powerful for your business.

Imagine yourself traveling with your family on a highway far from home one night. It’s late, everyone’s hungry, and you’ve been on the road for hours. You’re not familiar with the area but you tell yourself to turn off the next exit and find food. As you drive off the exit, you notice a cluster of stores and bright lights; a good sign for weary travelers. As you approach the stores and bright lights you notice two food establishments: Billy’s Burgers and McDonald’s. The only two restaurants in town. Now you tell me: Which one would you choose? Most would choose McDonald’s.

While there are many reasons why most people would choose McDonald’s over Billy’s Burgers, perhaps the most compelling reason is that McDonald’s has done an amazing job building its brand on the consistency of its service and its products. McDonald’s’ customers know exactly what they are getting, and that communicates comfort. People tend to feel more secure with what they know and what they anticipate.

So, what does McDonald’s have to do with running a repair shop? It’s the marketing lesson of consistency of service. Promoting consistent world-class service with each customer will create an experience that will give customers a compelling reason to return in the future.

Now, most of us are not franchised across the country, and many of us are single location business owners. Our business model is different in that we tend to build relationships over time. While we may not be a national brand, we can still have brand recognition in our community. We can still have a brand that communicates consistency and comfort; a winning marketing strategy.

When a customer walks into your business, it’s not because he or she is hungry and looking to eat a meal. There’s a problem with his or her car, or a service they need to have done. People rely on their cars and leaving their car at your shop can be disrupting to their lives. This causes a level of anxiety within every customer. We need to recognize this and find ways to reduce or eliminate this anxiety. If not, the experience won’t burn a positive impression in their mind, which means they may not be back.

The customer experience is a crucial element to the success of any company. But, do we fully understand the impact of consistency in service at every step of the customer experience? How being consistent can promote a feeling of comfort and security? Your customers must be greeted the same, the phones must be answered the same, car delivery must be the same, and the quality of service and repairs must be consistent. Something as simple as forgetting the lube sticker or not resetting the maintenance light can raise anxiety and make the customer question the quality of your service, which will have a negative effect on the entire experience.

However, the marketing lesson is not only how you define great customer service, but in defining how to deliver consistent, great customer service at every step of the customer experience, time and time again.

This strategy will ease the anxiety within your customer, which will benefit you the next time your customer’s check engine light comes on or when her car needs servicing again. By delivering a consistent, amazing customer experience again and again, you will instill comfort and security in your customer’s mind. This simple strategy increases the odds that the customer will think of you the next time for their automotive needs. And that’s the secret of McDonald’s.

Think about this. A consumer is traveling to work on a Monday morning. She notices that oil change maintenance is on. This consumer has been to your shop, the dealership and the local quick lube in the past. She knows the cars needs servicing. Where will she choose to get her oil change done? Will it be your shop? Will it be the dealership or quick lube? That all depends on what business made the best impression in her mind.

This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on January 25th, 2019

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  • 1 month later...

You made some great points about marketing. I am researching how people look for auto mechanic shops. Do you have any insights as to what tools people use to find an auto mechanic? Why all the changes in digital marketing, has the way consumers shop for a mechanic changed and how has it changed?

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On 4/3/2019 at 1:59 PM, Ivonne said:

You made some great points about marketing. I am researching how people look for auto mechanic shops. Do you have any insights as to what tools people use to find an auto mechanic? Why all the changes in digital marketing, has the way consumers shop for a mechanic changed and how has it changed?

Perhaps the greatest marketing/advertising strategy is still word of mouth.  So, you need to create an amazing experience and be active in your community.  Now, with that said,  you also need a balance of different forms of media: A great website, SEO strategy, Social Media, online banner ads, etc.  You also need a CRM Service Reminder system. Hope this helps. 

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On 4/3/2019 at 1:59 PM, Ivonne said:

I am researching how people look for auto mechanic shops. Do you have any insights as to what tools people use to find an auto mechanic? Why all the changes in digital marketing, has the way consumers shop for a mechanic changed and how has it changed?

Good question. But don't confuse "digital marketing" with plain old marketing. The digital part is just another way of getting your message out. So what hasn't changed is THE MESSAGE. That's what you need to get clear.

I've just had a bunch of research completed over the last 6 months to come up with hard data about how customers react and what they do. All of the research covers things like using discounts to attract customers (and if it's worth it) and what happens when customers visit your shop the first time. You wouldn't believe the facts that show you have a real slim chance of getting them back a second time. So are they really customers?? 

I explain it all in this video on my YouTube channel.

Hope this helps!

Matthew
"The Car Count Fixer"

P.S.: Join the conversation at YouTube.com/CarCountHackers - Like & Follow Car Count Hackers on Facebook

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

    • By Joe Marconi in Joe's Blog
         5
      Typically, when productivity suffers, the shop owner or manager directs their attention to the technicians. Are they doing all they can do to maintain high billable hours? Are they as efficient as they can be?  Is there time being wasted throughout the technician’s day? 
      All these reasons factor into production problems, but before we point fingers at the technicians, let’s consider a few other factors.
      Are estimates being written properly? Are labor testing and inspections being billed out correctly? Are you charging enough for testing and inspecting, especially for highly specialized electrical, on-board computer issues, and other complex drivability work?  Is there a clear workflow process everyone follows that details every step from the write-up to vehicle delivery? Do you track comebacks, and is that affecting production?  Is the shop layout not conducive to high production? For example, is it unorganized, where shop tools, technical information, and equipment are not easily accessible to every technician?  Are you charging the correct labor rate and allowing for variables such as rust, vehicle age, and the fact that most labor guides are wrong? Also, is there effective communication between the tech and the service advisor to ensure that extra labor time is accounted for and billed to the customer? These are a few of the top reasons for low productivity problems. There are others, but the main point is to look at the entire operation. Productivity is a team effort.  Blaming the techs or other staff members does not get to the root cause in most cases.
      Maintaining adequate production levels is the responsibility of management to create the processes that will lead to high production while holding everyone accountable. 
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