Today’s consumers have many compelling options on which to spend their discretionary income. That includes where they turn for vehicle service, maintenance or repair. Whether it’s the local dealership, a national chain/franchise or another independent shop just like yours, someone is always looking to lure your best customers away.
Good news – there are simple strategies that you can employ to strengthen the relationship with your best customers and retain them.
It’s all about interaction and connection. You can connect with your customers using one of the many CRM systems available in the automotive aftermarket, or you might choose a more personal in-house system. Either way, it is important that you connect at least six to 12 times per year.
Implementation of these five CRM basics is a sure way to keep your shop growing!
According to John Burkhauser of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY, 98% of text messages are read within 15 seconds and are responded to within 90 seconds of being sent.
Think about that the next time you need a quick approval, are looking to confirm an appointment, or have a special offer to fill the empty bays.
Text messaging is the most efficient way to get in touch with your customers and most shop management systems have SMS messaging built-in.
Of course, text messaging has a variety of legal guidelines so be sure you understand them and follow the rules.
OE-Recommended Services help Schedule the Next Visit
Vehicle 30K, 60K, 90K services are a fantastic way to set up the next appointment. While the original dealer might suggest that the owner needs to bring the vehicle in to its service department to avoid voiding the warranty, the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act actually protects consumers and allows them to choose their favorite repair shop without risking the loss of their coverage. When was the last time you went over the maintenance schedule with your customer to set up a plan to keep their car in like-new condition?
Inspection Reports – with Quality Pictures
Utilizing digital inspections is a great way to bolster confidence in your shop’s expertise, profes-
sionalism and transparency. Digital Vehicle Inspections (DVIs) are also a great resource when it comes to building future appointments. It’s important to take great pictures and annotate the item you want customers to see when they receive the report. The better the image, the more likely it is to receive approval for the work with fewer questions.
For many drivers the nearest comparison to taking a car for service is going to visit the dentist. The patient may have a number of teeth that need work but, in most cases, they won’t all get fixed at once. The patient will choose to defer a small amount of work for the next visit so a follow-up appointment will likely be set. The dentist’s office will remind the patient right before the next appointment, probably via text message to get confirmation.
Many shops say their customers exhibit the same behavior when it comes to their car. Approval rates for recommended work on the initial visit run 55% to 60%, so the items not addressed at that visit are scheduled for a future date. To get the next visit, they put in place the same type of plan as the dentist’s office: set the appointment, then follow-up via text, email or phone call.
Customer Loyalty Program
Having a strong customer rewards/loyalty program that recognizes frequency, dollars spent and referral of new customers will help you stand out above the competition and remain top-of-mind. More importantly, you’ll see the customer’s level of loyalty increase.
A loyalty rewards program that encourages repeat visits also measurably reduces the attrition rate for customers. Close analysis of the data from our clients shows that, on average, 50% of new clients never return for a second visit. If you can get them back for a second and third visit, your chances of creating a “lifetime” customer improve exponentially! The “magic number” is 4 visits, after which they’ve likely concluded that they like you, your team and your business model, and you’re a good fit for them and their car’s needs.
A Simple Thank You Note
One of the simplest and most overlooked ways to make a positive impact and stay top-of-mind with your customers is a brief, handwritten thank-you note.
Three short sentences are all you need to express your gratitude and appreciation for their patronage. This is not the time to sell the next service or offer a coupon; it’s simply time to say Thank You – no more, no less. Keep it short, sincere and warm.
In this digital era you might be tempted to use email or text, but consider how many emails you get on a daily basis versus a hand-addressed note. This personal note will convey that you really care and would like to remain their shop-of choice!
You probably have a competitor in your area who has a pretty good reputation for service on par with yours. Developing a CRM program that sets your shop’s customer service above the competition will help you remain at the forefront of the customer’s mind when it comes to their own needs or when referring a friend!