By LeeAnn Brook
Brook Design Group
Imagine choosing a car repair shop. The shop’s ad caught your eye in the newspaper by the clean, attractive look. You checked it out on the shop website, and not only found easy directions to its location, but also saw pictures of the people who worked there, along with a sparkling clean shop.
Driving up to the shop, the bright sign caught your eye, and registered with the logo you saw in the newspaper and on its website.
You approached the newly painted building, pulled up to the parking spot in front marked “Customer Parking,” and got out of the car. The clean glass door invited you inside with a “Welcome” sign, nicely polished floors gave a great impression and a cheerful voice said, “Hi, you must be Mr. Hammond! How is that golden retriever doing?”
Surprised that the customer service rep behind the counter remembered your conversation the other day on the phone, when you mentioned that you had to take your dog in for surgery before coming in, you looked around to see if maybe a relative was hiding behind the door giving him the information. The rep not only remembered your dog, but already had your information pulled up on his computer screen, with a full list of current services needed for your car.
While your car was being evaluated, you sat down on a comfortable sofa, enjoyed a cup of your favorite coffee from the coffee bar and glanced up at the wall. Expecting to see the wall plastered with tire sale posters and battery offers, instead it was filled with beautifully framed artwork, all by local artists.
“All of these people have their cars serviced here, so we wanted to do something for them in exchange,” the service rep behind the counter remarked.
Hmmm…what goes around comes around, you thought. How nice.
The service advisor comes out from the shop to give you the evaluation on your car. It was good news and bad news. You needed more than $1,500 worth of work on your car. But the good news was that your car had at least another 60,000 miles of life left, and it was in great shape. Asking how the car was currently serving you, verses purchasing a new car, the service advisor helped you evaluate what might be the best choice for your investment. The choice seemed obvious, and you thanked him for his honest advice, fully trusting that your car was in the best hands possible.
You get a call the next day, two days earlier than planned, from the service advisor saying that your car was all ready to go. Someone from the shop picked you up at your house, and drove you back to the shop. Barely recognizing the newly washed car, inside and out, you realized it was your car. The service advisor brought out the work order, and asked if you would like to see what was replaced. The engine even looked cleaner than you remembered, and sounded great as you glanced at the odometer, knowing that another 60,000 miles would be added to it.
As you walk inside to pay the final bill, the service advisor hands you the printout of a complete itemization of all that was done, including warranties, and it comes to $50 less than anticipated, with a pair of wiper blades thrown in at no charge.
When you are about to pay the bill, you notice a sign on the counter, indicating that the shop has a “charity of the month” club, where it donates $500 a month to its favorite charity. If the customer purchases a t-shirt promoting the charity, 100% of the proceeds also go to the charity. You give the shop a check for three t-shirts, and the next morning you read a thank you post on the shop’s Facebook page for helping it exceed its contribution by more than $800 through t-shirt sales.
What goes around comes around. And you thought you just came in for car service.
Interestingly, this isn’t a fictional story. This is the story of how a great business not only survives, but also thrives. Tough economy or not, it’s the way that Volz Bros. in Grass Valley, CA, does business at the same time as it builds its brand.
When you hear the word “branding,” most people immediately assume that it’s all about putting your logo on everything possible, and getting a website done. But, a brand is much more than the image that people see every day. A brand is the promise of an experience.
Volz Bros. places its customers’ experience at the top of the list, and then translates that into the messaging in its ads, what’s on its website and how it gets involved in community service. Volz Bros. lives up to its promise by “walking the talk” of its brand.
A brand is not always about how large your marketing budget is, but it’s more about the time you devote to your customers’ experience. Next time you think about running an ad, put some thought into the “experience” you want your customers to have, from the moment they walk through the door.
LeeAnn Brook is president of Brook Design Group in Nevada City, CA, and has run a successful design and marketing firm for more than 35 years, specializing in branding campaigns. Visit www.brookdesign.com. Her favorite thing to do is working with clients like Volz Bros.