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Go Get New Customers
Posted to Shop Management Forum on 7/12/2013 22 Replies

Greetings all,

I may ruffle a few feathers with this one, but what else is new :o)

When reading SMF threads dealing with things like the challenges of dealing with price shoppers, or those who want to bring their own parts, or folks who question your recommendations, or those who come to you for some things, but not others… There are usually a few responses along the lines of: 'If you're getting a lot of people calling/showing up who want to: bring their own parts, question your methods, talk you down in price, etc… you need new customers.' Along with that there will sometimes be comments like: 'Some people aren't worthy of your services.' Or, 'You deserve better.' Sometimes I'll read something like: 'You need to raise your rates to weed out the cheapskates and undesirables.'

Some (for various reasons) may have the luxury of applying these kinds of selective methodologies, but others simply do not, and taking such an approach could make things worse.

Markets are not the same everywhere, AND the dynamics of the market are always changing. Consumer attitudes, needs, and wants have changed and are continuing to change.

John's post about the challenge of parts pricing as a result of the Internet is an excellent example. Here's an excerpt from John's post:

This all has the effect of shrinking the available base of folks who wish to be our customer… Many will look at what we have to do to stay alive as price gouging… There is no more mystery about anything which can be physically purchased and it's hurting us. Those who think it's not are kidding themselves.

Johns is exactly right, there is no more mystery, and THAT is affecting how consumers think and act. (Here's a link to the entire post:

The Internet affects more than parts pricing. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of sites with all kinds of automotive service information. Is all of it correct? Is all of it good? No, but some of it is. And perhaps worse than unmistakably wrong information is information that is both a little right and a little wrong.

Perhaps some shops are blessed with a large and loyal customer base that doesn't question them or challenge them in any way, but others are not so blessed. Others have to work very hard to attract, satisfy, and keep customers.

As a note to those who have it so good now, things may very well change. Customers move away, pass away, quit driving as they age, and buy new cars. How will you replace these customers? Will they just show up and deal with you on your terms?

The Internet is a presence that has and will continue to influence consumers. Attracting, satisfying, and keeping customers is a different game today than it once was. An attitude of: 'This is how it is here, we've always done it this way, if you don't like it we don't need or want you' is likely to cause more and more businesses to shrink and fade away.

The savvy owner today, in my opinion, is one who is not threatened or even annoyed by the questions and challenges of consumers. Rather he (or she) sees these questions and challenges as opportunities, and develops the skills to communicate and connect with people.

Brian Gordon, in a reply to John's post about parts pricing that I linked above, wrote this:

We are seeing a convergence of several things: tough economic times which drive people to save wherever possible; more wholesalers on the internet with very public prices; and a poor understanding of the economics of business. Add to that our industry's perception by the public at large and we have a mess. Others industries have gone through this. Some changed -- some disappeared.

(Here's the link to his post:

I wonder, who will change and who will disappear?


Mark Hambaum
MDH Automotive Services
Richville, Michigan, USA

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