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About Martinelli

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    Occasional Poster

Business Information

  • Business Name
    Bill's Automotive
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
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  1. I find customer service is a skill like being a A-Tech or great actor, part is natural ability, part is experience. Sure you can teach someone how to handle customers, but really good customer service people are naturals. My barber can remember every customers name that walks in his door, no matter how long he has known you. It is a great ability, becuase it says, I care and you are important. Name recognition does a wonder for our industry as well. We are in a field where we have to be seen as caring and that means being on a personnel level with our customers, and that means you have to know their names. Otherwise you are just completeing another business transaction and their is no connection. Don't you hate it when your doctor looks at you like he is seeing you for the first time. It drives me crazy, he should care.. Then they diagnosis you, give you a perscrip and they are gone, next a nurse comes and walks you out. Where is the professionalism there. I also say lead by example, your customer service team will treat people just as good as you do. If they don't, fire them. If they do better learn from them. The real questionis how do you find these people..
  2. You couldn't have picked a better example of branding, well maybe Kleenex, Xeorx, etc. What all these companies did was make their brand name the product name. Kleenex is tissue, but we call all tissues Kleenex. And we don't make copies we make Xeorx. We don't order cola, we order Coke (at least in the north east). This idea of branding is most commonly associated with products, but the idea of constantly having your name out there works. So consistancy is very important. People have very short term memories and it dos't take long for them to forget you. With advertising we are trying to reach those that don't use us. If they have a problem with their current shop they may say, you know I heard about so-and-so, maybe we should try them. Hersey a few years ago thought their name was synonymous with chocolate and didn't need to advertise as heavy, well they learned the hard way when sales fell. They returned to advertising very quickly. Someone has a problem I want them to think of my shop. Something I have noticed over the years, my customers never call my shop by its name, they say "my kid broke down, I said call Bill's." I hear it over and over, to the point I was just going to call my shop Bill's, because that is what they call it. But as long as they think of me, that is all I care about.
  3. I agree, shops that work on volume price their services low and when repair shops charge the price we need to we are seen as high. Then I find myself explaining why I charge more. I have found that lowering the price of an alignment I am doing more, but I won't give it away. I find over the course of a day that the law of averages works in my favor. Sometimes it may take a while (Audis) but some alignments are done very quickly.
  4. I agree money isn't always the best motivator, but it does work. I have found making note of employees accomplishmenst works well, mentoning an employees accomplishments in a news letter, lets the employee know their work is a appriciated and tells the customer what kind of people you have working for you. I use it when they get now accreditation, sometimes I will just profile and employee spoltlighting their abilities, etc. I looked into offering stock options to employees, but the cost of setting up and running the program is very expensive for a private company. But the idea of giving the employees more of a stake in the business is a great motivator, anybody use such programs or have something on a smaller scale?
  5. Exactly, good points. Even if my children don't want to take over the shop, I can at least sell it and give them the profits, so they can build there own business, in what ever field they choose. I think investment classes should be taken as well as management training courses. Finding a good finacial planner can help, as shop owners are time is already scarce we don't have time to watch the markets and reasearch best places for our money. I have found many people pop up as finacial planners who have no education. Ask if they are Certified Finacial Planners, this means they have at least had training, dosn't mean they are good, but it is added protection.
  6. November 22, 2007 It seems Honda is gearing up to be the one of the first major companies to bring a hydrogen fuel cell car to market – their FCX Clarity is set to go to production in 2008, in a move they’re hoping will break the catch-22 dilemma stopping motor companies from producing cars because there’s no hydrogen distribution, and stopping fuel companies from distributing hydrogen because there’s no cars that use it. To nurse consumers through the infancy of the hydrogen economy, Honda’s also attempting to decentralize the production of hydrogen through their Home Energy Station unit, which sits outside your house and reforms natural gas to produce enough Hydrogen to power both the car and the home’s energy needs at around 50% of the normal cost and with a 30% emissions reduction. Most of us don't have gas stations attached to our shops anymore, but hydrogen may be the end all together for fueling stations. The last part of the paragraph explains that at home we may produce all of our home and automobile energy needs. With the GE electrolyzer they are promising energy independence with the use of solar or wind power and water to create hydrogen, we won't even need natural gas supply. So even the transport of fuels will be obsolete. With GE electrolyzer we may be able to produce hydrogen right outside our shops. is this all pie-in-the-sky or is this a coming threat or opportunity, any thoughts??
  7. What do you find works best for finding out what your customers want? I go by the three-time rule If one person asks for something I make note, if two people ask I look into it, and if three people ask I implement it.
  8. Most of the time I find irrate customers happen because of misunderstandings. If both sides are head strong and unable to capitulate, you are risking the customer leaving, and spreading the misunderstanding. Most of the time these misunderstandings occour because of customers "expert" family and friends, filling their heads with the wrong information. And if this cusotmer is new, they will take the word of the "expert." when we incounter the irate customer, we need to take a breath, and try to calm the customer down. Now we can have dialogue, and get to the root of the issue. Sometimes taking the customer to an office with a closed door allows for a more one-on-one feeling, and it says hey, this guy is taking time out to understand my issue. We also have to take into account that they may be venting from a sitution far removed from the problem with their car, but we become the punching-bag anyway, not the person that has caused their grief. It has happened more then once that a customer has apologized for taking out their personnel frustrations on me. But we can't always count on that..
  9. Great point. I found myself working all day and night, and I wasn't getting the returns I had hoped for. I had to step back and evaluate the problem. I was pushed to look at myself because of customers comments (a customer who ran several successfull business). He said, how do you run a buisness when you work all day.... What he ment was i was working as a technician not a business owner. A business owners responsibilty is to propel the business forward and that is an all day job. You made the choice to run a business, giving up the hands on work. We shouldn't sacrifice our family time in order to give them a better life. Because in the end we are negating the orignal intent. What do we tell young techs "Work smarter not harder," rings true for owners as well.
  10. Today people use the internet like a phone book. I personnaly use it as another information source on prospective compaines I look to do business with. And I think our customers do as well. We are all on computers today, it is more convinet to look a business up on-line then it is to go find the telephone book... The affordablity of web-site design makes it a no brainer. I also think it adds an air of crediablity these days.
  11. It is impossible to judge the effectiveness of advertising. Advertising/marketing should not be disected to one thing; it is the culmination of all activities. For we don't disect a stew to see what we liked, for it is all the ingrediants that make a good stew. Most people do not make snap decisions about trying a new product or service. We usually require repeated exposure to a new concept before we even remember it, much less decide to buy it. We need to become familiar and comfortable with it before we invest our time or money in it. This is true in all areas of life. It's a basic fact of human nature. So, when we're promoting our product or service to people, we can't expect them to jump on it the first time they hear about it. (Wouldn't that be nice!) The more information they have about our servies and the more time they have to consider it, the more likely they will begin to trust it and us. Remember, good things take time. Our best customer relationships do not happen overnight. don't put a microscope to your marketing activities and expect to see results. Step back and watch what happens over time. When you try some new marketing activities then give them time to work. And watch your overall sales for the products/services you are promoting with the new marketing. Factor in any normal seasonal fluctuations and any other changes that might affect sales.

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