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?
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
Got your attention? Good!
Take it from me, a shop owner for 40 years; before you invest a dime on advertising, get your internal marketing in order....in other words...get your house in order.
No amount of advertising or marketing means more than what you do each and every day. And that is creating an amazing customer experience that gives your customers a compelling reason to return.
Make sure that each customer contact point creates a positive experience. The phone call, the drive up to your shop, the parking lot, the customer write-up, the upsell, the car delivery and every other point of contact with the customer.
These things I speak of means more than any money you spend on advertising. So, before you spend that dime, get your house in order. And remember, everyone in your shop is an important part of your marketing strategy!
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"The Car Count Fixer"
By Joe Marconi
The year was 1980 - the year I founded my company. And, like many new business owners, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what was needed to grow a successful business. I thought that success would be determined by my technical skills and my willingness to wear the many hats of the typical shop owner. It wasn’t until I began to let go of trying to do everything that I realized that success is not just dependent on what I do, but by the collective work accomplished by the team. I eventually discovered that I was not the center of my universe. After a few years in business, I began the transition from simply owning a job to becoming a businessman. And, while technology has reshaped our industry throughout the years—and will continue to do so—there is one constant that will never change: success in business rests largely on the people you have assembled around you.
By the late '80s it was obvious that I was doing way too much. I looked at each role I had my hands on: shop foreman, service advisor, shuttle driver, bookkeeper to lot attendant. And, as long as I’m confessing all this to you, I need to disclose that I was also the shop’s maintenance person; making repairs to the bay doors, the slop sink and equipment. You name it, I did it. I was literally too busy to be successful.
In order to lead my company, I had to first clearly define my responsibilities. These are working on the business, recruiting and hiring the best employees, becoming a leader of people and making sure that my business was successful. I also needed to fulfill the obligation I had to my employees. I realized that this required a deep understanding that putting people first is the best strategy for success. This was difficult at first because it requires working on things that have no immediate impact on the business. Unlike working in the trenches and having your hands on everything, working as a businessperson means that you need to spend time building for the future. The things that are most important to your success in business are the things that have a payoff down the road.
I also clearly defined the duties I should not be doing and assigned those tasks to others. This is a critical step for any shop owner. Warren Buffett says that in order to be successful in whatever you do, it’s crucial to focus on the things that generates the greatest return and that you can’t do it all, and that means sometimes you have to say, “no.”
By the late '90s it became clear that the most valuable role I played in my business was that of coach. All the best marketing plans and the best business strategies mean nothing without a team of great people around you all pushing in the right direction. And that takes a strong leader. Not just a boss, but a leader. Leaders inspire people. Leaders get others to reach down deep inside themselves and perform at their best because they are aligned with the leader’s vision.
Leaders inspire others through praise and recognition for the work they do. When people feel their work matters, they have a purpose. People are motivated by the heart, not the wallet. That’s not to say earning a decent wage isn’t important. But a focus on money alone is not a strategy for success. Focus on people first and profit will follow.
Spend time with your employees. Get to know them as people, not just the role they have in your company. Find out what their dreams and goals are. And then find a way for others to achieve what they want out of life. People cannot be motivated until they realize that what they do every day helps them to achieve what they want in their personal life.
There are other people in our business world that we must never forget. And that’s our customers. If you were to ask me, who is more important, my employees or my customers? I would answer, “They are equally important.” You cannot have a successful business without the right employees and the right customers.
One last bit of advice I can give you is to focus on your success, no one else’s. Be very clear about the pathways you take and never forget about the obligation you have to others. Build a company culture of teamwork, quality and integrity. Focus on what’s in the best interest of the customer and the people around you. Put people first, and everything else will fall into place.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 4th, 2020
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