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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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I know it's hard to believe, but this one single simple tactic helps more shop owners gain trust and build solid relationships with customers. Instead of writing it all out and asking you to read it - I made this short video to explain it all!
Enjoy! It's simple. You DON'T have to be "techy" and you can start right now!
"The Car Count Fixer"
P.S. Join the conversation and grow your car count, income and profits!
Interesting article on Search Engine Journal about the importance of business reviews. Your business listing is prompted up with more positive reviews which is especially important for local area search.
Google Local Search Study: Businesses on First Page Have an Avg. 4.4 Star Rating
Businesses ranking on the first page of Google local search results have an average review rating of 4.42 stars.
This information was revealed in a recent study from BrightLocal which examines Google reviews and how they relate to local rankings.
A high star rating was found to strongly correlate with better rankings in Google search.
Businesses ranking in the top 3 positions are more likely to have an average star rating of 4-5 stars (64% of businesses have 4-5 stars).
Out of those ranking in positions 7-10 59% of were found to have a 4-5 star rating.
Only 20% of businesses in positions 1-3 were found to have no Google reviews, compared to 26% of businesses in positions 7-10.
Those numbers stress the importance of having a favorable star rating when it comes to ranking well in Google local search.
Positive reviews send signals to Google that the business is trustworthy and provides a good experience for customers.
Therefore, Google will be more likely to direct people toward those businesses when searching for what they offer.
Other Key Findings from the Study
Only 5% of businesses have an average star rating below 3 stars
Photographers, alternative therapy businesses, and marketing services have the highest average star ratings
Senior living services, car dealerships, and hotels have the lowest average star ratings
Bars, restaurants, and hotels are the industries that are most likely to have Google Reviews
Accountants are the least likely industry to have reviews on Google
Results from this study are based on the analysis of 93,000 businesses’ Google reviews in 26 industries.
Another recent study from Moz further illustrates the growing importance of Google My Business signals in local search results.
Have you ever searched various services or products from your PC, tablet and phone trying to figure out what happens when your customers do the same? I'm guessing we all have and came to the same conclusion: it's a moving target. As shop owners we are all thinking "How do people in need of my services find me online"? Once we know the answer to this question we know where to go to get found, but that answer doesn't seem to be clear.
Google search is still the #1 lead generator but the playing field has changed, here is the best article I have ever seen which clearly describes what Google is (and was) doing. If you struggle like me to understand, this will clear up a little confusion. To read it, CLICK HERE.
Scorpion Internet Marketing are the experts my company has recently teamed up with for web development and marketing.
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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By Joe Marconi
Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating.
One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver. You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long. Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on. Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart.
So, here's what you are going to do. Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate. Nothing expensive. During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do."
Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them.
The second thing that will happen is this: The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first? Yes...Yours!
By Joe Marconi
A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator. I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold." I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?" No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring. I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back. Well, no one did.
So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD." There was silence, so I continued. I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times, I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back. She replied, "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway." I hung up the phone and called another company.
The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone? The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business. Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one. Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls.
Your phone is your lifeline to future business. So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone?
By Stevens Automotive Service
You are a entrepreneur and your business is Automotive Repair. Run your business like a business and become more profitable.
You have a tool box just like your techs in the shop do and the ones with the correct tools , good work ethics and knowledge are the best at what they do. So can you in the shop management area just use your TOOL BOX!
A few things to get cleared up. I have read a lot of post , forums etc, dealing with car count, advertising, us against the dealerships etc. WELL ! First you have to concentrate on your business not what someone else is doing, what works for you and makes you money should be what matters to you and your business.
1) Concentrate on what your doing right if it needs refined ..REFINE IT.. DIAL IT IN... GET THE PERCENTAGES CORRECT.
2) Do you have enough work flow and are you getting the max out of what you already have ?
3) IF you don't have a good even flow of car count, advertise, but do it in a way that it comes back to you to show what your business has to offer that the others don't.
4) REPUTATION, CUSTOMER SERVICE, FIXING THE CONCERN and BEING A SMART BUSINESS OWNER are the only steps to winning.
5) Last but not least .. PEOPLE BUY GOODS AND SERVICES FROM PEOPLE PERIOD !!
Look at it in this perspective for a moment. Your advisors are problem solvers, customer comes in with a problem or just for a service and they let them know what it will take to repair it or what the car may be in need of if not now then soon. They are solving problems if not right now then later, building trust and reputation for your business. I always say if you solve there problem the rest SELLS itself. And for those of you that think and have been programmed to think that getting new customers, keeping the good ones you have to spend crazy money to get them and keep them is just that "crazy".
I will be glad to speak with anyone that wants to have less stress and make there shop profitable. Send me a message, email, phone call and we will go over what you have and what you are wanting to achieve and the consultation is always free. IT COST NOTHING TO ASK BUT IT COULD COST A LOT IF YOU DON'T !!
"LOAD YOUR TOOL BOX WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS"
By Joe Marconi
This is not new topic for me, but I need to revisit it again. And I will keep revisiting this topic for the sake of our industry.
For independent repair shops to "thrive" today, you must take a proactive approach with regard to business. If you only want to "survive" you can stop reading now.
Waiting for the phone to ring, or for cars to breakdown, or for a customer to drive into your shop asking for a repair or service is business suicide. The days of broken cars lining up in front of your bays are over. Sure, cars still breakdown, but you cannot thrive with a wait-and-see strategy.
Make sure you perform multipoint inspections on all cars in for any type of service. Yes, any type of service or repair. Look up vehicle history on all vehicles. Let the customer know of needed services, missed services and services due. And lastly, book the next appointment. Yes, I know....Joe's been preaching this over and over and it does not work in your shop. Fine, then let me focus on those shops that do book the next appointment. Because those are the shops that are adopting a proactive approach...and I will see those shops in the future.
By Ron Ipach
You might be thinking I'm going crazy, right? Talking about advertising in the Yellow Pages in this day and age, but for some shops, advertising in the Yellow Page still makes sense. Now, bear with me. Don't stop and think I've gone off my rockers. Let me explain what I'm talking about:
Everybody's clientele is different. What is the average age of your clientele, of your better clientele? You want the people that are coming in and spending money with you. If you're finding that you have an older clientele, chances are, most likely, they're still using the Yellow Pages. Admittedly, I had to go over mom and dad's house to get a Yellow Pages because I don't have one at my home, but look, I'm not of the age demographic that is off of the internet.
A lot of people are on the internet but quite a few people are still intimidated by the internet, and they're more likely to grab a Yellow Pages and search for a business to do business with. We don't want to alienate them, and if you're staying out of the Yellow Pages, you have a 0% chance of them ever calling your shop. This isn't for everybody. I mean, All I've been doing recently is broadcasting the importance of getting found online and getting referrals. Look, I get it, and I can't wait to hear the comments down below the post after this. For some, as a matter fact, for a lot of auto repair shops, advertising in the Yellow Pages still makes sense.
If you recall, if you go way back depending on how long you've been in business, when I first started working with auto repair shops about 20 years ago, Yellow Pages was the dominant place where everybody advertised. If you remember what it was, it was very expensive and there was just page after page after page after page of display ads, and your chances of getting noticed amongst all that noise were pretty slim and none.
Everybody hated the Yellow Pages because it was so expensive, but I found a way, and a lot of my clients found a great way to put in a really good ad and get a lot of business from the Yellow Pages. If you've been with me for a while, you know my style of advertising is a lot different than what most other people will do. The ads that we put in the Yellow Pages actually got a ton, and I do mean a ton, of phone calls, from perspective clients. If you put together a kick-butt ad now you could get the same results.
I currently have a Greater Cincinnati Yellow Pages book here with me. I'm in a suburb just north of Cincinnati. There is an entire auto repair section. It starts on one page and it ends on the very next page, and that's it. A front and back of one page is all it is. Remember, this used to be pages and pages and pages of display ads. Right now, display ads, this one has one, two, three, four, five. Five display ads on this side, and we've got a small ad right here and an even smaller little in-column ad, a couple over there, and that's it.
That's for all the auto repair shops that are in this area, and there are quite a few of them, by the way. Everybody else has decided to stay out of the Yellow Pages. Remember the problems with the Yellow Pages before. They were busy. There were too many, too much competition. They were expensive. Right now, that's not the case, so that's the reason why I would encourage shop owners to maybe look at using the Yellow Pages if you're trying to attract an older clientele.
Again, if you find your older clientele are not the demographic that you're going for, then the Yellow Pages is the wrong idea, but if you're in a retirement community, if there's a lot of elderly people around you and you want to attract them to your shop, this could be a really good place because they still use this. They're not walking around with their mobile phones looking for a shop to do business with. They're actually still using the Yellow Pages.
There's a lot less competition. The ads have gotten extremely cheap compared to what they used to be. The Yellow Page reps, the reality is since everybody's shying away from the Yellow Pages, they're giving great deals. I mean, they're giving away everything possible to get you to advertise in the Yellow Pages.
Leave no stone unturned. Investigate the possibility. Look at the clientele that you have. You might even start asking people, "Hey, do you still use the Yellow Page, Pages?" and if a lot of them do, that might be a really good place for you to start advertising again.
-- Ron Ipach (a.k.a Captain Car Count)
President/Founder of Repair Shop Coach More articles and content like this and originated through Ron Ipach's Car Count Daily campaign Auto Repair Shop Owners, Managers, and Automotive Industry Professionals are invited to join 'Car Count Daily Boosters' LinkedIn group to provide resources and gain insight on boosting car count DAILY and filling up the bays in their shops.