Posted to Shop Management Forum on 7/12/2009
How to Get Good Customers into Your Shop
There have been a lot of posts recently about poor/failed
marketing efforts. Most of them revolve around "price-point"
marketing or marketing that appeals to less than desirable
So, what can you do?
First off, you must distinguish your shop from all the
others, and don't use price to do it. ;o)
Here's a start:
Make your shop look different than the other shops, for
openers. The public perception of most repair shops is dark,
dirty and cluttered.
Take photographs of your shop and you'll suddenly see your
shop like the public does, rather than your own perception
(in your own mind) of your shop.
Next, you have to "sell what people want to buy". People
with good jobs, driving nice cars, who are logical in their
thinking don't want a $69 brake job. They're smarter than
that. They also don't want "Free code reading", that's what
What they DO want is to know they won't have car trouble.
So, what's the best way to market that?
Let's go back quite a few years in my own shop's history. A
few Summers into my shop ownership, it seemed like many of
my customers would come in for an oil change and tell me,
"I'm going on a trip and want to make sure the car is OK,
can you look it over good?"
Well, I sure did and made a lot of sales off that. But
something finally clicked in my brain--my customers were
telling me "what they wanted to buy" and that was a Vacation
So, I made a list of all the things I could think of that
were common failure items on the highway, priced it at 29
donuts and offered it to my customers. They almost all
bought it without question.
At this point, I'm doing the same things I did before, but
now I'm getting paid for it. In addition, it made a neat
"special" I could mail out that would literally get good
people to call me and bring their cars in.
This doesn't even have to be mailed, it can simply be
offered by the front counter staff, or you can put up
signage. Maybe signage in front of your nice clean and
bright shop with all the nice cars parked out front. :o)
Many of you will email me and ask me for a copy. C'mon, quit
being so lame, lazy and unimaginative. ;o)
Start a spread sheet. Down the far left column are the items
listed that you check. Across the top are Good, Fair, Needs
attention and Comments columns. This way items can be
checked off and a short explanation given.
Here are some items you can list:
Cruise (yes, this can be checked at 30 mph)
AC vent temp____Deg. F.
Upper radiator hose
Cooling fan operation
Obvious fluid leaks
Visual inspection of battery
Visual inspection of battery cables
Wiper blade condition
Alignment (based on tire wear)
Tire tread depth
Tire pressure (including spare)
Tie rod ends
Obvious fluid leaks (undercar)
Shocks and struts
The list you develop should then be given to all your techs,
so they can "approve it" or make suggestions. Talk openly
about the suggestions and go out of your way to accept them.
This converts it from "your list", to "their list" and
they'll be much more likely to endorse the program and go
along with it. Remember, most techs resist change, even when
it's good. This is an important step in team-building.
Tell them it's important that the list be done in the order
the work will be done, so that you're most efficient on the
operation and not skipping all over the form as you're
filling it out.
I've developed a cool wiper blade test: Use a damp towel and
wipe the rubber blades. Good blades leave no marks, black
marks indicate the rubber is breaking down.
Feel free to add items to this list and do it in a post, so
this can be a group-developed list that you can all use.
Voila! You now have an item you can market that will attract
a good grade of prospect, increase your sales and provide
something that will make your customers feel better about
their cars and you.
And---you don't have to "give away the farm" to do it.
George from Nebraska
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