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What are you doing to stay in touch with your customers?

Monday, July 25, 2016 - 07:00
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Is more than 25 percent of your business coming from one source? If it is, consider this. According to OnStrategy’s  article by Todd Ballowe, Ten Common Causes of Business Failure, number six is overdependence on a single customer.

In his article he asks “If your biggest customer walked out the door and never returned, would your organization be OK?”  The number seven cause is no customer strategy.

I understand the comfort of having insurance direct repair programs (DRPs). I enjoyed having them when I was working in a shop. However, I always continued to market my customer base. 

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In a day and time when a customer can change their insurance affiliation in 15 minutes or less online, you need to keep track of your customers. I always tracked whether a DRP assignment was a repeat customer or a new opportunity. At my shop, it was about 70 percent repeat and 30 percent new. What I found interesting was almost 20 percent of my repeat customers were with a different insurance company. This is why relying on your DRP to market for you makes you susceptible to their ebbs and flows. Those ups and downs can negatively affect your workflow.

By marketing to your customer base you retain your customer regardless of their insurance company affiliation. There are numerous commercials luring customers from one insurance company to another and unless you have a DRP with all of them your customers could be directed to your competition.  

By staying in contact with your customers you develop loyalty that will help combat insurance company steering. Customers want to know they have somebody that can help them when they have an accident.  By staying in touch with them they will turn to you. When you don’t stay in touch, they will rely on the insurance company’s recommendations.

There are many tools available to maintain contact with your customers as well as different methods. Which method or tool you use depends on your marketing target. I recommend you do a little research before you pick one or maybe two to reach your customers. 

Marketing for success

Even if you have a DRP with several insurance companies, the customer must know you to pick you from the line-up the insurance call center gives them. To gain those customers you must create a plan to market to the public.

Marketing plans are only as effective as their reach. You can’t successfully market your collision center without understanding your target. Marketing has many facets that require research to determine the correct message, the right channel and the intended receiver.

Determining where your marketing is successful and where it is not working, as well as knowing the differences in the market areas prepares you to structure your marketing program effectively. One of the differences could be your marketing message is directed at an older audience and the market is a college area. Regardless of the market, you have to ensure you generate awareness of your collision center, motivate potential customers to drive to your facility, differentiate from your competition, identify your brand as unique, explain the processes that make doing business with you attractive and capitalize on your customer satisfaction index.

Marketing is an ongoing process, a mixture of marketing your customer base and exploring areas you are not reaching. To be successful you have to diversify your tactics over the different media opportunities.

In Michael E. Gerber’s book E Myth Mastery he discusses six disciplines including awareness, motivation, acceptance, brand preference, purchase transaction and customer satisfaction. Focusing on these six principles will help you establish your targeted message, stress the benefits of doing business with you and create brand awareness.

Kelly McDonald, President of McDonald Marketing, wrote a book entitled, How to Market to People Not Like You. The book provides insight into how to market to areas you are not reaching.  She explains how to “get to know the customer you’re not getting but should be” in chapter two and in chapter five she describes how to “communicate in their ‘‘language.’’ She recommends you “develop marketing messages based on their values.” She continues a discussion about Gen Ys, Xs and Zs and how to approach them. There are a variety of marketing books available, I enjoyed these two and believe you will also. 

I suggest you look at your competitors to see how they are sending their messages and try something different and unique.

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