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Use these tools to confirm that advertising dollars are driving business

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 04:42
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Shop owners are spending valuable dollars on advertising to drive business to their shop's front door without employing tools to verify an increase in profit. They have developed websites with effective search engine optimization so they appear high on the list in Internet searches and grabbed that prime drive-time radio spot to advertise their shop. But the medium is often questioned when advertising efforts don't seem to help the bottom line.

In most cases the advertising is doing its job because the work is showing up at the front door or making the phone ring like it is supposed to. It's what happens from that point on that creates the problem.

The most effective way to find out if your advertising efforts are working is to utilize specific tools to check what you expect.

Tools like call-tracking programs or mystery shopper services are prime examples of ways to determine if your advertising is effective or if your people need some training on dealing with the influx of calls or traffic generated.

The use of an effective call-tracking program will help you determine what happens when the phone rings at your shop. I became familiar with call tracking when I was working at a dealership. They tracked customer inquiry calls from the first contact through the close of the sale. I thought this would be a fantastic tool to use in the collision center as well.

I had my main customer service line attached to one of the monitored lines and was immediately amazed at what was happening when customers called my shop. My customer service person was answering the phone like we taught her; however, we were not as effective closing the deal as I thought we should be.

Through the company's reporting process and coaching tools, we were able to change some of our word tracking and immediately noticed an increase in sales.

There are many call-tracking programs to choose from and some will fit your business better than others. The ones I like the best are those that provide coaching and give call details. The better ones also track the effectiveness of your website or that choice radio spot. You can have separate phone numbers attached to those different advertising mediums and get a report on which ones are sending business and which ones are just digging into your profits. Others will even record outgoing calls. Ever wonder if your customer service rep is giving customer updates? Now you will know for sure.

Mystery shoppers are another way to measure how your people handle the traffic created by your advertising. A mystery shopper can determine how well your customer service people handle a customer, all the way to how effective your estimator is at closing a sale.

There are several companies that provide services like this; some will just check the customer service portion while others focus on the estimating process and the best will evaluate the entire process. Many also offer a report card-type report to rate the customer service process, how effective the estimator was at explaining the repair process and whether or not they asked for the sale.

I have found that is where we suffer the most in our industry — we don't ask for the sale. We handle the customer great at the front counter, the estimator explains the estimate and repair process to a tee, and then – nothing.

A strong mystery shopper program will provide the coaching and tools needed to improve the entire process, so check them out and make sure they will provide the help you need. Mystery shopping also can benefit multiple store operators by using them to evaluate estimate consistency. Ever wonder why one store has a better net profit or higher closing ratio? A mystery shopping expedition might just give you that answer.

Check what you expect and grow your profits.

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