Let’s pick up the conversation from my last blog. As you may recall, I had a conversation with online marketing expert Nathan Scripps about auto repair shops wasting their time marketing to prospects on a “one and done” basis. Rather, Scripps, general manager of MotoREV (the online marketing platform within MOTOSHOP Technology Tools, that is designed to attract new customers and retain current ones), says you should set your sights on long-term relationships. Getting customers on a schedule to return routinely is the only true ticket to success.
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The problem for many shops has been they just aren’t too good at marketing or just don’t have time to spend on it. All too often, they leave their marketing up to word-of-mouth, which of course, is a very effective means of getting new customers; however, you don’t have enough customers to carry on the conversation for you. In fact, you don’t even know if they will pass the word on even if they are thrilled with your services. Other shops have used traditional media to different degrees of success, while still others have just simply experimented with the next new marketing gimmick to come down the pike. All this adds up to hit-and-miss marketing at its best.
Oh, lest I forget the other form of marketing regarded by a lot of shops as the be-all, end-all to get customers to come back for service — the appointment window sticker. Of course, it’s a handy visual reminder for the next oil change, that is, if the technician’s penmanship is legible and the sticker sticks to the window. Even if it doesn’t wind up on the bottom of a customer’s shoe, it doesn’t address any other kind of service other than an oil change.
What I’m getting at is that too many shops do their marketing by happenstance…or when it’s convenient…or when business sours, which is sometimes too late at that point. Conversely, Scripps is a proponent to engage customers with a shop’s brand. And engaging them has to be structured and purposeful per MotoREV. This is accomplished by shops conducting ongoing, targeted e-mail, periodic postcards, communication via a monthly newsletter and scheduled online appointments with their customers. Throw in social media and you’ve really have your customer hooked. But who has the time to do all of this? Well, that’s the point, isn’t it. You need to hire someone to do it for you. And to do it with expertise. (“Don’t try this at home” is good advice when the very essence of your business is at stake.)
By engaging customers with your brand through the communication methods mentioned above, Scripps says you can expect customers to return 36 days sooner on average. “What’s that mean for you?” he asks. “It means you pick up an extra service visit or half a visit per year (from a customer). That doesn’t sound too exciting until you realize the average service visit is between $110 and $200. So, if you pick up an extra $50 or $100 per customer and multiply that $50 or $100 by the number of customers you see in a year, that’s a major addition to your top line revenue.”
So, back to the window sticker. Ok, it’s easy, slap them on every car you service. But in order to increase your chances exponentially of retaining customers, Scripps says you don’t want to live and die by the sticker; rather you have to get on their personal calendar, which is what MotoREV is designed to do.
“It’s about getting between picking Bobby up at soccer practice and after getting out of work at 4:30 in the afternoon. If you can get your shop on a customer’s personal calendar, you have a much better chance of improving your show rate,” Scripps emphasizes.“You (through MotoREV) send a service appointment request, they confirm it, they get an e-mail reminder and it’s added it to their personal calendar. We all have those personal calendars that have pop ups that say, ‘Hey, you have to do something in 15 minutes.’” He concludes that It’s that last minute reminder that the customer initiates and is used to following that locks in the customer.
About the last thing people want to worry about is car maintenance. People are just too busy to think about it even though their transportation is critical to their lives. If shops can take that worry away by keeping what is probably their second biggest investment (or third if you factor in college loans) running well, customers should be grateful, or at least relieved.
This, of course, is all predicated on you providing fast, reliable and guaranteed service and repair, which happens to be what you would rather be doing than worrying about chasing after customers. Right?