Keep up appearances. A strong Logo will ensure visibility in a potentially crowded market. Make sure that your branding is kept consistent throughout all your marketing material. Stay focused and build connections with customers.
Make it a smooth transition. Whether by choice or necessity we can help! Moving location is a big undertaking. For whatever the reason, make it an opportunity to create positive news. Let people know by starting early and promoting constantly.
While keeping your favourite clients is a priority (see tip No.4), if you are wanting to expand, consider some of these strategies: Referral Vouchers. Word of mouth is cheap and effective advertising. Offer your existing clients a “Refer a friend” voucher or rewards scheme and get them to do your advertising. Chances are, if your client is a ‘good’ one, they will bring other ‘good’ clients. Letterbox drop in your local area. Let the locals know who you are and where you are. If you happen to be the nearest service/repair option, you can offer extra services such as pick-up/drop-off etc. ALWAYS include a special that has a measurable dollar value, this adds value and reduces the chance of ending up in the bin.
Let’s face it, not all customers are created equal. Some will haggle for the cheapest option, question everything you’ve done and then drag out payment, while others’ are an absolute dream to work for.Make sure it’s the dream clients that keep coming back by treating them right, staying in regular contact and rewarding them with products that let them know you appreciate their custom.
Individualised DOMED KEY-RINGS created a
sense of exclusivity, while a custom REFER A FRIEND voucher not only rewards your client, it creates new, like minded customers.
It’s not just about taking the time to get to know
your client see tip No. 4, it’s also about making
sure you have good communication strategies in place (like calling when you said you would) and, importantly, showing a care of duty that may cover you legally in a worst case scenario. If you are performing tasks which involve aspects of vehicle safety and subsequently require some form of accountability, the work you have performed and the result for the client need to be clearly communicated to your client. A safety checklist/ warning should either be handed directly to the client, or, as in the case of oursteering wheel wraparounds, placed in a position where it’s impossible to be missed by your client.
Habits are a lot easier to make than to break. If a client visits your workshop at least 2-3 times within 12 months, they’re a lot closer to becoming loyal, repeat customers (assuming you treat them right, see tip No. 4).
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting them in on a regular basis, even if what you are offering is a free service. i.e creating a ‘FREE, pre-winter check’ that takes a mechanic less than 5 minutes, not only builds that loyalty, it’s also an opportunity make sure their vehicle is safe (see tip No. 5) and to point out issues that may need resolving (adding additional work).
Using additional products to increase your marketing doesn’t have to increase your costs! Many products should be counted as part of your expenses, which, like any other small parts or consumables you’ve used, are included in your clients invoice.
Most invoices include a ‘sundries’ section, adding $1.50 (for a Lube Sticker and a back window Vinyl Sticker)to this will make no difference to the your client, especially if you’ve given great service and value, see tip No. 4.
Chargeable hours equals profit. As an Owner/ Manager, you shouldn’t be subsiding your own
staff. One of the biggest aspects of managing a healthy, profitable Auto Repair business, is ensuring your Technicians are charging their time properly.
Give your Technicians the tools to charge their
time effectively and properly. Having some form of scoring system, such as a score board, Job Card or a daily target card that all team members are required to fill in and is visible to all, makes everyone accountable to each other, which is often more of an incentive to maintain acceptable figures.
There’s a few excellent Automotive Supply groups, Co-op’s and franchises available that can offer marketing advantages, savings, group buyer discounts and/or all-in-one accounting solutions that can make the running of your business smoother and easier. Have a look around and talk to the representatives involved to see if they can help
Non-chargeable hours are a killer to your bottom line. Trained Technicians that have to spend time explaining to customers completed or upcoming work, are generally doing so at the expense of chargeable hours. Either train your front office staff to a level that they can clearly and competently communicate the most common aspects of repairs and servicing, or invest in a set of fully customised TECH SPEAK cards that explain in plain English a range of the most common repairs. Also, see tip No. 8
Would you like fries with that? This one’s all
about increasing your clients dollar spend, without significantly increasing your work load. It might sound a little cliched, but it can work very effectively. Creating combo’s that cover similar work processes, adds another chargeable job, and if you’ve offered it as a discounted combo, you’ve both added value to your work and created a happy client!
Note: unless it’s for a value added special, avoid discounting your work, this is a slippery slope to lost profits, (see tip No. 5)
To do business with your company... sounds like a no brainer, but a lot of business’s aren’t doing themselves a favour! Always greet your customers warmly, whether on the phone or in person, communicate clearly, keep them informed and always under promise and over deliver. Find ways to TELL your clients when to come back, Lube stickers and reminders are a great way to do this without having to call.
Offer to combine their servicing with the WOF schedule to save them the time and hassle of booking in twice. This can work for you by ensuring you keep both the servicing and WOF testing business. Use your business cards effectively by adding a map to the back of your business card, clearly showing how to find you, as well as an area to write booking/pick-up times. Finally, thank your customers. Most of them have a choice of places to visit and for whatever reason, they have chosen your company, make sure they know you appreciate it (see tip No. 4).
It’s not always about the mighty dollar. Giving back to your community can be rewarding in a number of ways. As an alternative (or in addition) to donating to charities and non-profit organisations, you have the very valuable expertise and ability to make a difference to these groups by reducing costs. Offering to do the vehicle servicing for a
local charity at no cost not only provides the ‘feel good’ factor to you and your team, you may well experience an increase in customers as word of your awesomeness spreads.
KEEP IT LOCAL Stay connected to your local community.
KEEP IT PERSONAL Choose a charity you feel some connection to.
BANG FOR BUCK Many smaller charities run on the smell of an oily rag and the goodness of volunteers, your assistance can make a BIG difference!
TAKE PRIDE You’re using your skills to help others, never under-value that.