Shop Management | Operations - Collision Repair

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Turn collision repair business losses into gains with these tips

Monday, October 1, 2018 - 07:00
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How often do you see the following scenario at your shop?

A vehicle with a big hit is towed in. After your estimator performs a damage analysis, she determines your shop can’t do the work. Maybe the vehicle has damaged structural parts that can only be replaced by a shop in a repair network. Perhaps it qualifies as a total loss. Or it could be a brand-new luxury model or other vehicle you simply don’t have the expertise, tools or training to fix.

In any case, you’re watching money leave your business. Most often, shops look at these losses as simply part of the business. What they can’t make on a vehicle being removed from their shop they hope to make up with other business. The truth, however, is that every lost business opportunity can be transformed into a potential win if you plan for it. Use these five steps to build revenue where once you only saw defeat.

(Photo courtesy of Mayfield Collision Centers) Make sure you offer a friendly, helpful and memorable customer service experience, even when you can’t repair a vehicle and must send it elsewhere.

Step 1. Offer memorable customer service to everyone, all the time. If you think that once a prospective repair is towed out of your shop you’ve gained nothing, Randy Drury, owner of Full Service Auto Stop in Houston, says to think again. “You actually gained the most important think any business can collect—information,” he says. That information starts with an owner’s name and home address and possibly a phone number and email address.

From there, says Drury, shops can still go to work through education and guidance. “Our shop has email and snail mail templates that tell customers we lost, ‘Sorry we couldn’t be your repairer today, but we still want to help,’” he explains. “We attach a ‘customer bill of rights’ like a lot of shops post on their websites, along with other information on what to expect during a repair. And we ask that they remember us in the future.” If the customer is on-site, service reps pass out copies of the same information and wish customers well while trying to alleviate their fears with helpful guidance.

This may seem like a lot of effort for a client you’re losing, but Drury says shops need to keep in mind that most collision repair customers are genuinely frightened and concerned when seeking service. The greater the number of friendly industry faces and positive efforts they see the better.

“We don’t know what a customer will face when dealing with another shop, but we wish the best for them,” he says. “The keys here is to offer folks a genuinely positive experience in the midst of a stressful event—and one they’ll remember should they need help another time.”

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