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Got your attention? Good.  That's the power of advertising and marketing.  I know many of you are affected by COVID and experiencing a downturn economically.   Studies have shown that the businesses that maintain advertising during downturns do better with market share and sales when the economy returns to normal. 

Maintaining your marketing presence is a lot easier and less expensive than playing catch up when things get better. 

I know the reality of tough times.  Do your best to maintain your advertising during tough times.  You will get back what you invest. 

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Got your attention? Good.  That's the power of advertising and marketing.  I know many of you are affected by COVID and experiencing a downturn economically.   Studies have shown that the businesses t

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    • By CAR_AutoReports
      Hello everyone, I am suggesting we have a thread with comments that only relate to information regarding help for businesses or communities affected by recent events.
       
      I will start the thread by listing relevant links I have at this time:
      the U.S. Treasury Department has released a draft application for the Paycheck Protection Program (the
      new forgivable loan program) created by the CARES Act. The Paycheck Protection Plan application process starts
      Friday, April 3, 2020 and those eligible and interested in applying should begin that process as soon as possible:

      - For a top-line overview of the program:
      https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP -- Overview.pdf

      - If you’re a borrower, more information and links to SBA lenders http://www.sba.gov/ can be found here:
      https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--Fact-Sheet.pdf

      - The application for borrowers can be found here:
      https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Application-3-30-2020-v3.pdf

      Importantly as well, we have included links to Small Business Administration (SBA) resources that will help navigate
      the government subsidies, loans and programs available:

      - The SBA’s Local Assistance Page, https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance which provides local resources and
      information on offices and other resources around the country;

      - Lender-Match, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans the SBA’s tool to find local banks and lenders
      based on your needs and;

      - SBA’s Coronavirus Resource Page:
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    • By alfredauto
      Not much to do here so I've been studying last years numbers. January and February 2020 were on the level with 2019. Car counts around 195-210. March 2020 - 45. April 2020 - 31. The rest of last year followed the pattern. No activity.  It went up some in the fall but we are down 70% as far as car counts go last year.  A bonus if you want to call it that was the cars we did see needed a lot of help. The average RO was up almost 35%.  Overall we will survive but we aren't swimming in gravy. Over the past 11 years our sales charts looked like a right triangle. Up every year. Very linear. Then came 2020 that sent us back to 2014 sales levels. This year so far is looking positive but we are still way off our goals. Car counts are at an all time low. And that's with a lot of our competition closed down permanently. Get ready folks it's going to be another tough year.  
    • By Joe Marconi
      It's hard to believe that it's almost a year since COVID-19 hit.  And for many businesses, and repair shops, it's been a challenge.  While many areas around the country have not seen a downturn, there are other areas that have been harshly impacted.
      Areas such as mine have seen a decline in miles driven per customer of up to 50% or more.  Just consider working from home, the drastic decline of going out to dine and other activities, a decrease in after-school activities, a decease in youth sports, buying online and every other action that has become the norm, and it adds up to a negative impact for so many shops.
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      I urge everyone to focus on people: Your family, your employees, your customers, and the community.
      With regard to your customers, they will remember you and their experience long after the water pump or mass air filter you replaced in their car.  
      If you are having a decline in sales, here a few tips:  Establish your new goals, look at your expenses, reevaluate your breakeven, make sure your labor and part margins are in line.  BUT, never forget that your most important strategy is the culture of your business. 
      Lastly, cherish every minute with family.  This Crisis has brought Clarity. And let's never forget the things that money cannot buy. 
       
    • By carmcapriotto
      Dwayne Myers is a partner in Dynamic Automotive in the greater Maryland area. Dwayne invests time in the industry with the Auto Care Association and serves on the education committee with CCPN (Car Care Professional Network). Dwayne was recently honored as one of only 17 outstanding individuals that qualified for the prestigious 2017 World Class Technician Award presented by The Auto Care Association and ASE. He is very passionate about hiring and sustaining a strong and engaged team. Listen to Dwayne’s previous episodes HERE.
      Dynamic Automotive is an MSO (Multi Shop Operation). They have stores in Frederick, Libertytown, Urbana and New Market. Webiste: https://dynamicautomotive.net/
      Key Talking Points:
      Two locations shut down at two different times  November 2020- few cases with employees, health department quarantined everyone Loss of $100,000 during shut down   18-20 employees out of 40 total have tested positive in 6 month period- only 3 spouses have caught it    Adapted with phone service from home- Jose used app on cell phone to continue to service customers and shuttle vehicles to other locations or reschedule for the future (air traffic controller)  Tell customers the truth- the team is sick and you are doing everything you can. Received gratitude and understanding from customers  Need to take care of the customer, each other and the business  Paid all employees when shut down- had savings. Keeps cash flow of 6+ months for ‘in case of emergency.’ If you keep 8 months it can be used for opportunities (equipment or another business)  Preparation is the key to survival- the business had already been preparing for possible shut down due to Covid  Other locations showed ownership and caring nature for the affected employees and business owners  Communication is always most important during everyday occurrences, crisis and personal life Everyone is dealing with the pandemic in one form or another  Freedom is on four wheels during the pandemic People are traveling via their vehicles more than ever Vehicle maintenance is an investment now, not a luxury Annual Christmas party (pre Covid)- over 150 peopleInvite your family and who you are closest with- Dwayne wants to meet them and get to know them  Way to get team members and their family completely on board        
      Resources:
      Thanks to Dwayne Myers for his contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast. Link to the ‘BOOKS‘ page, highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers. Listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spreaker, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Podchaser, and many more. Mobile Listening APP's HERE Find every podcast episode HERE. Every episode is segmented by Series HERE. Key Word Search HERE. Be socially involved and in touch with the show:
      Facebook   Twitter   Linked In   Email
      Join the Ecosystem - Subscribe to the INSIDER NEWSLETTER HERE.
      Buy me a coffee
      The NAPA Smart Sign, previously known as Digital Menu Board, gives your shop a professional, state-of-the-art look and feel. It’s a great way to educate and inform your customers about needed repairs and service, plus increase awareness of your current promotions. NAPA AutoCare Center that have installed a Digital Menu Board found one out of five consumers ask for a repair or service they’ve seen on the board. Targeted promotions resulted in double-digit increases. You choose the content from a library of auto care service and repair topics. The latest NAPA national promotions are downloaded to you automatically. And with the Digital Menu Board it’s easy to change your services, prices, and video content anytime you’d like. Talk to your servicing NAPA store to find out more.
      Visit the NAPA Benefits Center, at www.napabenefitscenter.com or call the NAPA Benefits Center at 844-627-2123.
       
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    • By carmcapriotto
      https://youtu.be/HCcL-qlylmg
      Jim Hayes is originally from North Carolina but spent time in various places growing up and has lived in the Monterey Bay area for the past 23 years. He grew up playing sports and spending as much time as possible in the outdoors; hunting and camping are among his favorite pastimes. After high school, Jim joined the United States Army where he served with elements of the Intelligence and Special Forces communities.
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      A special thanks to Jim Hayes, and Dave Martin for their contribution to the aftermarket. Books Page HERE Listen to all Remarkable Results Radio, For The Record and Town Hall Academy episodes. Facebook   Twitter   Linked In   Email
      Mobile Listening APP's HERE
      Join the Ecosystem - Subscribe to the INSIDER NEWSLETTER HERE.
      Buy Carm a Cup of Coffee 

      This episode is brought to you by Shop-Ware Shop Management. It’s time to run your business at its fullest potential with the industry’s leading technology. Shop-Ware Shop Management will increase your efficiency with lightning-fast workflows, help your staff capture more sales every day, and create very happy customers who promote your business. Shops running Shop-Ware have More Time and generate More Profit—join them! Schedule a free live demonstration and find out how 30 minutes can transform your shop at getshopware.com

      This episode is brought to you buy Shop Marketing Pros. Your guides are Kim and Brian Walker with a rich history as shop owners and industry veterans. When someone searches for a shop, who are they finding? Your competitors? It should be you! The good people over at Shop Marketing Pros know how to drive website traffic and make Google work for you! www.shopmarketingpros.com
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    • By CAR_AutoReports
      The best advertising comes in the form of referrals, which are usually free but don’t happen overnight.
      Advertising is perhaps the most confusing part of owning any business, not just an auto repair business. Advertising is, to take your marketing materials and broadcast them in mediums where you anticipate your target audience. The internet has drastically changed advertising as most understand it. We used to think of advertising as the “yellow pages” and newspapers. However today, the yellow pages comes in many different forms these days. All of which promise you the world and few of which will deliver.
      We recommend taking a broad approach to advertising to test what will draw in the most amount of new business to you. When thinking about how to advertise for your business, below are some suggestions to consider. First, establish a yearly/monthly budget, then to execute a plan. The most important part of your plan is to follow through on asking your new customers how they found you, that way you know what advertising is working.
      Our advertising model assumes you have a few things in place, as we also discussed in Part 2: website with contact module, Google Business Page, and a Facebook Business Page.
      We are firm believers that Google’s vast grasp on search is what makes it the king of advertising for now. Most people start their searches on Google, and if you’re not on Google maps and your website hasn’t been crawled by Google… you may not exist. We can argue this until the cows come home, but the truth is they hold a grasp on nearly 80% of all search in the US. Picture 10 people searching for “auto repair in my town”, nearly 8 of them are using Google. It’s much easier and fruitful to advertise to 8 out of 10 than 2 out of 10.
      We are going to assume you have a $250 budget, the starter plan would be something like this:
      Google Business Page – Free Facebook Business Page - Free Adwords Campaign through your Google Business Administration Page – Budget Dependent - $100 per month recommended Local Paper Advertising – Prices Vary – Assuming $100 per month This leaves you with $50 left over. Personally, we recommend a service called Yext, however we are unsure of their price these days as they have gone into a "Demo mode". This means  they likely introduce you to the price after you’ve demo’d their product. For a one location auto repair business, we believe their estimated price may be over $600 a year, which kind of busts the budget a bit. But once you see how much time their platform can save you… you may reconsider.
      Yext does a few great things that stand out:
      They broadcast your correct business information to well over 100 directory systems, including Google and Facebook. They also allow you to make business updates from their platform and broadcast it to all the directories in the network. They manage your inbound reviews from your customers on all those platforms and immediately inform you when you receive them. They allow you to broadcast messages of specials you may want to promote. They link your business website from 100 different directories, instantly giving your business credibility online. The most underrated thing they do… is save you time from trying to log into 100 different directories and fix errors, omissions, and broadcast them all at the push of a button. Can you imagine the time it takes to create 100 different accounts and to regularly check and manage them? We did, so we tested Yext at our founder’s facility and have been a subscriber for well over 5 years now. This article originally published in CAR's News Section

      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      A few years back, my service advisor, Tony, was trying to sell a customer a new battery. Let’s call this customer Ed Jones. Here’s how the conversation unfolded; “Mr. Jones, my technician completed our 21-point inspection on your vehicle and everything checks out fine. However, I do want to discuss the battery. Your battery was tested with our Midtronics digital battery diagnostic tool, which is a very accurate piece of equipment. Your battery is rated at 575 cold cranking amps, and your battery tested at 300.  Would you like me to replace the battery today?” Ed Jones looked at Tony, and three seconds later said, “Thank you for the information. Let me think about it.”
      I know Ed very well. The car we were servicing that day was his daughter’s car, who was home from college for the Christmas holiday. Ed’s daughter is in her first year at Plattsburgh University in upstate New York, which is about a five hour drive and near the Canadian border.  
      I could see the frustration on Tony’s face, so I gave him a little advice; “Tony, ask Mr. Jones who drives the car. After he answers you, ask him what the car is used for. Listen to his answers and then use that information to sell safety and peace of mind, not a battery.”
      Five minutes later, Tony reported back to me excited and amazed; “Joe, great advice!  He authorized the battery! I guess you knew he would buy the battery with the right questions?” I replied, “You were trying to sell Ed Jones a battery by pointing out the technical process we use to determine the health of the battery. What you need to do is reach the customer on an emotional level. The questions I recommended you ask made him realize that it’s the welfare of his daughter he was really buying, not a battery.” 
      Now, let’s clarify something. Tony didn’t say anything wrong with his sales presentation. But he got the process backwards. He was leading with logic. If you’re trying to sell something by using logic alone, you are going to struggle. People make buying decisions based on emotions. To make a sale, you need to connect with the part of the brain where emotions reside, and then back it up with logic.   
      Bombarding the customer first with facts and features tends to confuse the brain as it tries to make sense out what you are saying. That can be difficult because the technical information is usually not fully understood by the customer and the confusion usually results in the customer saying, “No.”  
      Let’s review the conversation when Tony asked the right questions; “Mr. Jones, who drives this car?” Ed replied, “My Daughter.” Tony continued, “And what does she use the car for?”  Ed replied, “She uses it to go college at Plattsburgh. She’s home for the holidays and goes back to school on Monday.” At that point, Tony realized why I urged him to ask those questions, and continued with, “So, your daughter drives this car back to college, and leaves on Monday. She goes to Plattsburgh, which is near the Canadian border.  Mr. Jones, it’s wintertime and that’s a long, lonely drive. Her battery tested weak and may fail without warning. For peace of mind and your daughter’s safety, wouldn’t it be in her best interest to replace the battery before she leaves?” Ed now makes the emotional decision, “Yes.” 
      Here’s the bottom line. First, know your customer. Build rapport during the write up process and find out all the details of why the car was brought in for service. Second, tone down the technical side of what you do. That’s not to say it’s not important. But, before you give the technical facts, reach your client on an emotional level. Ask questions to find out as much as you can about the customer, and then direct the conversation to the reasons why what you are trying to sell will benefit the well-being of the customer and/or the customer’s family.  
      Remember, decisions are easier to make when it has meaning to them or a family member. In Ed’s case, not replacing the battery would have been unsettling to him. Tony’s recommendation to replace the battery is perceived as the right decision because it promotes the safety and well-being of his daughter.
      Humans are driven by feelings and make emotional decisions, then justify it with logic. Next time you are trying to sell anything to a customer, ask yourself, “Why should the customer buy what I am trying to sell?” The answer may surprise you. 
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on November 1st, 2019


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    • By Joe Marconi
      A few years ago, some friends and I were having dinner at a local restaurant. There were six of us enjoying the food and having a great time. A few minutes after our waiter served us our coffee and dessert, the owner of the restaurant walked over to us, introduced himself and said, “I have people waiting for this table; how much longer do you think you’ll be?” Shocked by his comment, I hesitated for a second, looked up at him and said, “No worries, we’re done.” With just a few simple words, the owner of the restaurant wiped out the pleasant experience we were all having.
      As we were finishing up, we couldn’t help noticing the stares from our waiter and the owner. Their eyes were laser-focused on us. They made it obvious that they wanted our table. We didn’t say anything to our waiter, or the owner. But we told each other, “We’ll think twice about coming back to this restaurant.” None of us ever did go back to that restaurant. And I heard similar complaints from other friends about that restaurant. About a year later, that restaurant closed its doors for the last time.
      As a business owner, I fully understand what each table means in terms of profit. The tables at a restaurant are no different than the service bays in our business. The more people you can process through the restaurant, the more profitable the restaurant is. The more cars we can process through our service bays, the more profitable we are.
      While I don’t fault the owner of the restaurant for recognizing the need to be profitable, I do fault the owner for not understanding a basic rule in achieving success in business. And that is: You build a business one customer at a time and by developing strong, long-term relationships with those customers. And to maintain that success, a business must continuously cultivate those relationships.
      The owner of this restaurant didn’t get it. All of us had dined at his establishment before. The owner didn’t see us as an opportunity to strengthen the relationships. He saw the opposite. By asking for our table, he put the emphasis on his next sale and eliminated any chance of us returning again. Losing customers, and not understanding why, is the kiss of death for any small business.
      What the owner determined important was profit per table, per person. The process to get people fed and done became the primary objective, when it should have been ensuring its customers were enjoying a nice meal and having a great time. It was a mistake that eventually led to his failure. Never think that customer quantity ever outweighs the quality of the customer experience. Making a memorable experience is the essence of great customer service.
      If we dig a little deeper, we find another mistake made by the restaurant owner: believing that the customer experience was over when the meal was over. The meal was prepared, it was served and we consumed it. Then, at some point during the end of that process, we became an obstacle to his next sale. He failed to comprehend that the sale is not over when the meal is over, and that everything that occurs right up to the moment when a customer drives away from his parking lot will have an influence on whether that customer will return in the future.
      The lesson for us is simple: Never lose sight of the importance of creating a customer. Establish a culture in your company that cultivates long-term relationships. Build a process that always strives for world-class customer service during the entire customer experience—and especially at car delivery.
      Never think that when the technician completes the repair, your job is done. The customer experience continues right up until the time the customer is picking up their car. The time you spend with the customer after the repair is done is as important as making the sale.
      Value each customer. Work on those relationships. Don’t worry about short term profit gain. Remember: building long-term relationships, builds long-term profit.
      By the way, that restaurant has recently opened up again. My friends and I went there for dinner last Friday night. We noticed that the new owner was walking around greeting everyone. He eventually made his way to our table, introduced himself and said, “Can I get anyone anything? It’s great to see you here tonight and hope to see you again soon. Thank you.”
      Now, you tell me: Do you think we’ll go back?
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 1st, 2019


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    • 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


      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      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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