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We have a small shop in a small town where feedback is important to us. We have a handful of customers that owe us money for one reason or another. I don't want my name in the local paper that I sue everyone that owes but how can you get them to pay. I know we can't go take wheel off to repo them or assume we can't? Looking to be that pain that they will just pay to get rid of me. We call or message and get the same story as always checks in the mail or I will stop in next week etc. What are others doing and don't give me the we don't allow charges because we don't either but everyone has that special case that it happened.
I think we all know that diagnostics is the most costly service we provide in the automotive repair business today. In today's automotive repair environment, you need to be selling diagnostics, and getting paid for it. I'm looking for feedback on when things don't go exactly as planned.
Let's say a car comes in and you sell some diagnostics, by the hour, or from a menu. After you complete that work, and you still don't have an answer, do you go back to the customer and sell some more? Do you continue at your expense? If you do go back to the customer, and you have nothing conclusive after that, then what? Do you keep going back and selling more diagnostic work until you solve the problem? If you continue to go back and sell more, how many times can you do that? We've all had that car that we've worked on for weeks to find some strange problem. I doubt many customers are willing to pay for the 40 hours you spent on the car.
Now lets say after 5 hours of work that the customer agreed to, you are no closer to finding the issue than when the car came in. Do you charge them for the 5 hours and send them down the road even though you have not provided them with a diagnoses? Do you start spending your time trying to solve the issue because you have a hard time charging for 5 hours and are unable to provide any answers?
I'm asking these questions as I am rethinking my business strategy on diagnostics a little. Our shop is known for its abilities to diagnose problems. We have other shops bringing cars to us on a regular basis because of these abilities. I actually get several calls and emails weekly from across the county for help diagnosing problems. There are times, a lot of times, when I think this is more of a curse, than a blessing. I know we are in the business of fixing cars, and we need to be able to find problems if customers are going to keep coming back. But after my lead tech and I spent a considerable amount of time over the last 15 days diagnosing the strangest intermittent no start issue on an Audi, and watching his frustration grow everyday, not because of the difficulty of the issue as we both love the challenge, but because it held him back from addressing the other work that was coming in the shop.
So, as rewarding as it was to solve that mystery, I can't help but look back at what it cost me financially, and the frustration to the technician, and realize we have to come up with a way to try to avoid going down those rabbit holes. Right now my idea is to give it 1 hour. If after an hour, we are not relatively certain that we will find the issue, with another hour or two, then let the car go. Let the customer know that it's not that we can't fix the car, but that we cannot fix it efficiently. If I lose that customer, it would probably still be cheaper that working on his car for 2 weeks.
Love to hear your thoughts.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
Elite Pro Service is a peer group made up of 90 of the most successful shop owners in North America, and is always full, but as of 11/14 we have a couple of rare openings! "Rare" isn't an exaggeration, as well over half of the 90 shop owners in this peer group have been members since Pro Service was started over 10 years ago.
In a world where information is everywhere, it is the quality of the information you have access to that will separate you from the competition, and at Elite we feel there's no equal to the quality of real-time data and best practices that come directly from 90 of the industry's top shop owners.
Pro Service is more than a “20 Group” process; it is a community. Not only do our Colleagues believe that 90 minds are better than the standard 10-20 that are most groups, but just about every colleague will tell you that Pro Service has connected them with lifelong friends. There have been several occasions where a Colleague was in trouble with their business, and other Colleagues would “jump on a plane” to help them in any way they could.
Pro Service is a caring culture. It’s not only about increasing profits, but about becoming better leaders who create better lives for their employees, take better care of their customers, and make more meaningful impacts on their communities. It’s about achieving personal and business success, but also about elevating our great industry and every life it touches. It is worth your time to visit the Pro Service web page to learn more.
Pro Service Benefits
90 successful, business savvy shop owners working with you to improve your shop’s performance One-on-one coaching from a nationally recognized business coach with over 20 years of coaching experience and over 40 years spent in the Automotive industry Comprehensive host shop meetings performed twice a year, including onsite shop visits, collaboration and training to provide immediate solutions to current issues Yearly Pro Service Conference with training from outside the industry addressing leadership, marketing, recruiting, employee retention, succession planning and more! Monthly online meetings to keep you tuned up Information-rich financial Dashboard with charting, trending and analytics to benchmark performance Extensive library of information resources developed for owners, service advisors, managers and technical staff Support 24/7 To learn more or to find out if you qualify, visit the Elite Pro Service web page: https://www.eliteworldwide.com/20-group.html
Yes, I was shocked - and you will be too! The most current report from AAA reveals critical information that YOU need to know.
Hope this helps!
"The Car Count Fixer"
Grow your Car Count, Income and Profits!
By Joe Marconi
Roughly a month ago, I went to lunch with a good friend of mine. He works for the YMCA, so we discussed what the YMCA does to attract new members. A few years ago, my friend and his team realized that while they were good at attracting new members each year, they had little to no retention. It was a constant battle to bring in new members to fill the void of lost members.
The YMCA realized that it’s easier and less expensive to keep existing members, than to go out and find new ones. They created a new marketing strategy with a focus on keeping existing members. The plan was simple: create an amazing experience for their members and offer new programs to these existing members. The plan worked. Member retention improved. What worked for the YMCA will also work for your business.
Before you spend a dime on advertising, you need to understand one crucial component of your business; the customer experience. Without a great customer experience that gives your existing customers a compelling reason to return, you’re simply wasting your money on advertising.
Advertising is often aimed at new-customer acquisition. There is nothing wrong with this. Every business loses clientele each year for a number of reasons, and we need to get our name out to our community about who we are and what we do in order to attract new consumers. But, to rely on new customer acquisition alone without a plan to keep existing customers is not a strategy for long-term, sustained growth.
Every marketing plan starts with looking at your entire operation and how it relates to the customer experience. Are you doing all you can to create an amazing experience that builds solid relationships? If not, you will be in the same position the YMCA was: using advertising to fill the void of lost customers.
While there are many aspects of the customer experience, let’s focus today on the four essential areas: The customer write-up, the sales process, the car delivery and the follow-up. Each of these touch points must be executed with one thing in mind: create an experience so amazing that the customer will have a compelling reason to return your shop again.
Customer write-up starts the process. It’s where you begin the relationship or continue to preserve it. It must be performed as if you are welcoming a guest into your home. The sales process must communicate value and benefits to the customer. This gives the customer peace of mind, reduces anxiety and buyer’s remorse. The car delivery is your chance to leave a lasting positive impression of you and your company. It should not be a transaction, but instead the opportunity to resell the job, you and your company. The car delivery should not be rushed. Take the time to review the invoice, ask the customer if they have any questions. Let every customer know how important they are and how much you value his or her confidence and trust in you and your company. The follow-up continues the customer experience. This is where you reach out to the customer with a phone call, email, or thank-you card. It helps with customer retention by making another positive impression in the mind of the customer.
Getting back to car delivery: Make sure you review all future service recommendations and let the customer know that they will receive a service reminder. But don’t rely on a postcard or email alone to bring back customers. Think about this: If you had a bad experience at a restaurant, no offer or ad is going to get you back there—only an amazing experience will. The same holds true for your business.
By the way, an amazing customer experience is created by the people in your company. Sure, you need to have a clean, well kept facility with nice amenities. But it’s the people in your company that make the difference. Billion dollar stadiums don’t win championships—it’s the quality of the players on the field that win championships. Everyone in your company is part of your marketing plan. A simple smile and hello from a technician when a customer walks past the bays can do more for your business than any ad can.
Let me leave you with this thought: Customers will not remember the mass airflow sensor you installed or the exhaust leak you repaired. But they will remember their experience. A positive experience is lasting in the mind of the consumer. It’s the most powerful marketing tool you have—and it’s virtually free.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on September 1st, 2018
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