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  1. 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.
  2. Most of you probably already know what I am about to say: The Service Advisor position is the most crucial position in the shop. I know, I know, what about the mechanical work done by the techs? Well, that's important too, of course. For the most part, customers spend their hard-earned money and most of time don't really know or see what was done to their car. Let's face it, the customer can't see the water pump or T-belt. And most of the time, the customer does not feel any difference with the car as they drive out of your parking lot. What the customer does see (or experience
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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 Challeng
  6. 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 Challeng
  7. A woman called her dentist the other day and asked how much would a root canal cost. Her dentist replied, “Sure, hold on, let me look that up. Ok, that’ll be around $1400 for that job. Would you like to come in and have that root canal done?” Ridiculous scenario, you’re thinking? I agree! A dentist would never give a price over the phone without first examining the patient. Why do some shops continue to give prices over the phone? Even something as simple as a wheel alignment price can lead the customer and you in the wrong direction. Do you really know the car needs an alignment?
  8. If there is one thing that doctors and dentists do very well, it's that they book the next appointment for their clientele. I have heard every excuse possible why many auto repair shops don’t do this. But the fact remains that everyone in your shop today will need future service and repairs. And the question is, “Are they coming back to you.” Another reason for booking the next appointment is that there are times when not all the recommended services were done today. Some were postponed due to budget and prioritizing what’s most important. So, before that customer leaves, make sure the
  9. 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 finish
  10. We sell service, not products. Yes, we sell water pumps, brake pads and air filters. And yes, those are products. But it’s the service we sell, the customer experience, which lives on well beyond the customer leaves your shop. Think of it this way; when you buy a watch, or a new cell phone, the experience of what you purchase continues after the sale. When we replace a customer’s water pump or air filter, there is very little about those items that lives on beyond the sale. But, what does live on is the customer experience. The better the experience, the more likely the customer w
  11. 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: creat
  12. I recently made a call to my Internet provider to discuss and issue I was having. After multiple attempts at trying to explain my problem, the customer service rep on the other end of the phone had no clue how to solve my problem. She was nice, extremely polite, and had the voice of an angel. She was well-trained, but not in the art of problem solving. Great customer service is not about being nice to people, it’s all about understanding the customer’s needs and coming up with solutions to their problems. Train your service personnel in the art of proper etiquette, but also in the art
  13. I’ll never forget the day when Mrs. Obrien brought her car back for me to look at. She was furious. I stayed late the night before, well into the night, to finish her car so she could have it for work the next day. I even did a few little things on the house because I felt she may be a little inconvenienced picking the car up so late. Why did she bring the car back? A comeback? Well, not in the conventional way. It was the greasy smudge on her seat that she was angry about. But what about me staying late? Or giving away a few minor services? Doesn’t that count? She is upset a
  14. It’s easy to get sucked into the drama and the negativity of your worst customers. For some reason, no matter how hard you try, there will be some people that you will find impossible to please. My advice: stop trying. I am not suggesting that you ignore all problem customers. That goes with the territory. What I do suggest is that you don’t ignore your BEST customers. Pay a lot of attention to them. Educate your customers; explain the reasons why you are suggesting certain repairs or services. However, you will find that devoting your time and energies to your best customers will br
  15. Lets face it, a week cant go by without a technician comeback or a customer service issue. Mistakes will happen, theres no avoiding it. Obviously, you need to put systems and procedures in place to reduce the chances of mistakes occurring, but the truth is everyone at one time or another we will drop the ball. The key thing to remember when a mistake happens is to keep the lines of communications open. With every mistake there is learning experience that everyone in the shop can benefit from. Discuss the issue with your tech or service advisor. Get all the facts. Dont assign blame; t
  16. The holidays are a great time of the year to strengthen your relationship with employees and customers. Spend time with customers and employees discussing holiday plans and family. Show everyone that you value people first, profit second. Make sure you are genuine and show sincere interest in others. In the spirit of Christmas, the more you give the more you will receive. And of course, never forget your own family. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!
  17. In order to make any sale,the person you are trying to sell to must see the benefit of what you are recommending. Your customer must see that you are trying to help them, rather than just sell them something. Each of knows the reasons "why" we recommend a timing belt or a wheel alignment. But, sometimes in the mist of a busy day we don't effectively communicate the "why". When a customer understands that replacing the timing belt is thousands of dollars less than major engine repair, the customer knows the why. The customer sees that you are trying to help. The other component in selli
  18. I'm hoping to get some feedback regarding the circumstances described below. Any advice you might have about other ways to have handled the situation is welcome. Maybe you had a similar situation in your shop? How do you handle this? I started our commercial fleet services program five years ago, and have been fairly aggressive in doing what's necessary to attract local business, including the following: We bought a targeted mailing list (B2B) that was designed to reach the right-sized businesses & target the decision makers. We setup a budget to mail out our carefully construct
  19. New announcement from Michelin. Looks like they're getting into the online game with a new and different approach to making it easy for the customer to do business with them. There are a number of interesting things in the website's FAQ's that caught my eye. http://www.moderntiredealer.com/news/story/2015/08/michelin-pilot-program-sells-tires-online-and-offers-concierge-service.aspx Even if you're not a tire dealer, this move is a game-changer, What are your thoughts on this?
  20. This week has brought our shop more than our fair share of ups & downs. Some big jobs have gone on through completion without so much as a hiccup, while some small jobs have seemed to be nothing more than a painful distraction from "real" business. This one story, though...I really need some encouragement. Please tell me where we've gone wrong, or how we might boldly change our process to avoid these situations, because I've heard just about enough from whiny, underhanded customers. The facts: A gentleman brought his vehicle in because he claimed he was hearing a squeaky noise.
  21. We’re not the cheapest guys in town. There – I said it. But we’re not downright unfair, and we do a good job at offering over the top value to those we hope to serve. In any market or industry, there are three distinct categories of customers, the price conscious, value conscious, and the quality conscious. Sadly, the price conscious folks seem to be the most discussed in forums. We had a young lady come to us 2 years ago for service when she had a breakdown. In addition to the way her concerns were addressed from a technical/mechanical standpoint, she received such over-the-top treat
  22. If your shop is in the northern part of the country, there is no denying that this winter has been one of the toughest on record. Storms have forced many shops to lose work days, resulting in loss of income, which may be hard to recover from. But, there is another thing that can affect business, and that’s the mood and morale of customers and your employees. People tend to shut down as they endure day after day of bad weather and cold. This may have hurt your business more than the weather. For you, the shop owner and leader, you must maintain the right frame of mind. Remain upbeat
  23. Last Wednesday I brought my wife’s car in for a few repairs: a T belt, a check engine light repair, spark plugs and a few other services. The car also needed front struts and mounts. The car would hit really hard over any road imperfection. The check engine light was related to a fuel problem, and I noticed a lack of power at times. As I drove the car home after all the repairs were done, I could notice a big difference in the way the car ran and handled on the road. Yesterday my wife took the car out, went to lunch with my daughter and then out to the mall and I few other errands. She


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