Posted to Shop Management Forum on 6/16/2012
What to do about car counts
The question of car counts and their importance to a repair
shop has once again come up for discussion. A variety of
opinions have been shared, some with better validity than
others and far too many have been based on too little
information from the person asking the question.
If your shop is in Detroit's inner city and your car counts
are diminishing (well, duh), the worst thing you can do is
to check the cars over better and work harder for upsells.
This strategy assumes that you had too many cars before and
didn't look them over well enough. This strategy assumes
that your customers want them looked over.
Your problem is that your market is crumbling economically
and you either need to close up and move, or figure out a
better way to offer more value to the people that are left.
I present this situation simply to illustrate that good
advice to some is not always good advice to everyone. It
depends on where you are now.
Back to car counts. We have a great fast food place that
started locally and has the best burgers, fries and stuffed
bun sandwiches you've ever tasted. I've never had a burger
that was as good as theirs and never been able to duplicate
that great tasting beef at home.
At one time, there was another franchise across the street
from them that was the classic early fast-food failure. The
burgers were not very good and the fries were limp and
greasy. Their sign out front nearly always advertised
multiple burgers for a buck.
At lunch time, the line for the great food was long, the
parking lot at the cheap food place was empty. Even though
the price was cheap, the value was in paying more.
Let's take a quick look at the 4 kinds of buyers, probably
started by Steve Donovan.
"A" customers--love their cars, want to keep them and take
care of them. Failure to keep them up to date on things that
need to get done will push them away. If their car fails to
start because something was overlooked, it may cost you
their business. These people are happy, well adjusted,
generally make good money and have learned the value of
planning ahead. They will call when it's time to do
"B" customers--love their cars, don't always do the
maintenance. They may not be aware of maintenance needs and
can frequently be sold maintenance fairly easily. They may
be leasing cars or trading frequently in order to avoid car
repairs or to have reliable transportation. They can be
educated about car care. They will schedule oil changes and
will call for an appointment when problems develop with
"C" customers--don't know cars need maintenance. Might be
young, may not have the money for maintenance. They'll drive
in when they have a problem.
"D" customers--don't care if it leaks, squeaks, rattles or
creaks. If it gets them from point A to point B, it's good.
They'll have it towed in when it won't go any further.
None of these are good or bad, they're just different and
each want different things. Understanding the difference is
a key to marketing to them. Offering a cut rate oil change
will almost never attract an A or B customer. Failure to
check a car over will drive them away. Checking a car over
for seriously poor people may repel them, because they can't
understand prevention. They're always behind things
financially, so prevention doesn't resonate with them.
If you want to attract a better clientele, start with 3
things that illustrate quality and WILL attract a better
clientele, while at the same time REPELLING some
SOAP, PAINT AND LIGHT--CLEAN the place so it's spotless.
Floors should look like no one has fixed a car there before.
Many drips and spills can be caught and cleaned easily by
using drywall mixing tubs from the lumberyard stores. These
tubs are about 2 feet by 3 feet and do a nice job. Each of
our techs has 5 of them. One for each wheel and one kept
clean to catch coolant that can be re-installed when
performing cooling repairs.
PAINT the walls and ceiling white if possible. Clean and
paint all shop equipment so it looks like it just came out
of the box yesterday. Have a color theme if possible.
LIGHT the place so it's blinding inside. You should not need
"trouble" lights to do brake work, undercar or engine work
if you have proper lighting.
Take pictures of everything in your shop, from the outside
to the bathroom, to underneath the work benches and the
front office area. We all walk past things in our shops that
may not look good and we get used to them. Pictures will
help you better see what customers see.
This clean image will attract good paying customers with
nice cars, nice clothes and nice jobs to your business.
Those who seek something for nothing will not think that
they are likely to find that at your place. They will drive
This is a good start to improving your business and the best
marketing that you can do.
The point about car counts is that if an increase attracts
the wrong people, it's the wrong thing to do. If it attracts
the right people, it's good. If we are going to increase the
amount sold to each car owner, we need to understand what
each owner wants. Offering a large list of needed repairs
and maintenance to a "D" customer may drive them away.
FAILING to offer the exact same list to an "A" customer will
drive THEM away. There's nothing inherently wrong with "D"
customers, many of them are great when they come in.
Understanding is the first building block of success.
Becky from Nebraska
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43 Replies Received