Five Keys To Setting Your Customer's Next Appointment
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Five Keys To Setting Your Customer’s Next Appointment

Your dentist does it. Offer the convenience of setting the next appointment before your customer leaves.

In 2010, my mom had taken a trip to visit us in Houston for Christmas. We took her to Midnight Mass and, for some reason, my sister and I got the giggles. There we were in a packed church, attempting to be reverent and for some reason I couldn’t stop chuckling. My wife handed me some gum, hoping I would chill out. 

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I popped the gum in and started chewing. It really was a great idea because it distracted me enough – until I felt something weird in my mouth. I realized the cap on my molar had just come off and I thought I swallowed it … not a good feeling. Suddenly, the giggles were the last thing on my mind.

Not a great way to spend Christmas! Thankfully, I didn’t swallow it but had to make an emergency visit to the dentist, having him squeeze me in the day after Christmas to get the thing glued back on.

We all know the sun rises and sets, the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months and every three months we see a change in seasons. And, since that Christmas Eve, every three months without fail, I have been at the dentist’s office for a scheduled cleaning and check-up.

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Somehow, we never question the process of setting another appointment when we check out of the dentist’s office, so why do so many of our colleagues (and maybe even you) have difficulty setting the next scheduled service for your customer’s vehicle?

The same principles apply to cars as they do your teeth.

  • Frequency of visits reduces unneeded expenses for items left unattended;
  • Catching problems early means you can budget for unexpected issues; and
  • Unexpected failures usually come at the worst time.

It’s not about you, it’s about them

When discussing pre-scheduled appointments with clients and at seminars, I typically hear the same objection: the customer will push back when you let them know you’ve already set up their next appointment. Some shops take the perspective that “We don’t want the customer to feel pushed or have them get upset if we set their next visit.”

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In actuality, when you set the next visit, you are setting aside your time for their convenience. This assures that your team will be ready, and their car will not have to sit around waiting for the next open slot. You have already put a placeholder in the future for them.

The Walt Disney Company sets the standard for this with its Lightning Lane service. Guests at the theme parks actually pay more to add the Lightning Lane option to their park visit because it speeds up their time in line for their favorite attraction. This gives them more opportunity to enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Actual shop appointment reminder cards I used at my own shop. They worked exceptionally well.

The customer doesn’t know their schedule!

You are probably right, they don’t know their schedule. But why let that keep you from setting time aside for their next visit? Set the appointment and let them know you will confirm the week before to ensure this time still works. If it does, lock the appointment in. If not, reschedule it for another upcoming day.

Develop a planning culture

Some shop owners run from fire to fire, feast to famine. By planning and pre-booking your time, you will be able to look three to four months ahead to plan. Days where the schedule is full fly by and, in most cases, result in happy employees and owners.

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Being proactive vs. reactive results in more hours sold and more customers served.

Set expectations

Setting the next appointment is an element of marketing and advertising, so keep track of the results. Having a marketing tracking spreadsheet is essential for the success of any marketing initiative in order to measure its success. On the spreadsheet you will be able to see how many appointments are set, and which service advisor has the highest percentage of customer visits to appointments set. Track how many customers honor their time slot, how many have been rebooked and sales per appointment. Lastly, track the number of hours sold. 

Whether you are implementing appointments for the first time, reviving the practice or have been a veteran of setting the next service visit, take the time to acquaint all customers to the system’s benefits through social media, your webpage and digital menu boards. 

Have conviction

The success of any initiative in your shop hinges upon your belief that it will work. Unless you have a 100% belief that it is right for you, hold off. Your team will sense your lack of conviction and never fully buy into it. Believing that your customer and your shop will benefit from appointment setting is crucial to getting it off the ground and completely airborne!

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Effective maximization of time begins with setting the next appointment, doing so in an easy and simple way to keep your customers happy, your shop busy and your cash registers ringing. An engaged customer who knows the importance of regular maintenance is wonderful to have and will stay with you for years to come. 

Have you considered working with a business coach? Or, would you like a spreadsheet to track advertising? Drop me an email or call and mention this article to set up a free 30-minute, no-obligation coaching session.

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