Building Relationships with Your Auto Repair Shop Customers

Below is a collection of tips from Mitchell 1 to help you build strong relationships with your customers.

Marketing Tip to Bring Customers Back Quickly

Do you sometimes find yourself wondering what you can do to generate more service/repair tickets rather than the loss leaders? Here’s a quick marketing tip that may help with that.

Did you know that running separate coupons on your marketing and customer communication pieces is a great way to create a powerful promotional marketing campaign that brings customers back to your shop?

For example, if your thank-you email entices a customer with 10% off any recommended work (if performed by a hard expiration date), there’s a good chance the customer will take action on a buying decision right then. Here’s an example:

5 Tips For Running An Effective Coupon Campaign

No business owner likes to “give away money.” That’s a fact. And in this economy, every penny counts.

So when we mention the word “coupon” to shop owners, we understand why they’re often reluctant to buy into this concept. But, did you know that coupons offer a number of great business advantages and opportunities?

Attracting new customers, retaining current customers and contending with competitors can be a challenging task. Coupons are a creative tool to keep your customers coming back for a special service or to promote a regular service. They can also keep your consumers informed of new services your shop provides and can even be a way to attract new customers.

Consumers tend to comparison shop and will do the same for your automotive facility. Which shop has a special? Whose discount is deeper? Who’s giving away what? There’s no way around it, so it’s to your advantage to make your shop stand out in the crowd. Coupons and promotions are a great way to differentiate your business from the competition.

The Mitchell 1 SocialCRM team has outlined five great ideas for shop owners to use when considering coupons. We hope these will remove the taboo about coupons and help drive more business to your door:

  1. Dollar Sign or Percent Sign?
    It’s a close tie when comparing the two, but we’ve found that the dollar off coupon has a slightly higher return. The defined amount off eliminates the consumer’s need to calculate their discount. It’s clear and straight forward from the beginning.
  2. Viral Marketing
    Take advantage of digital world! Ask your customers to forward your coupons to their friends and family. Word-of-mouth is the best type of marketing. It helps create trust instantly between the shop and prospect, and it’s FREE. More exposure at no additional cost!
  3. Sense of Urgency
    Creating the sense of urgency by adding an expiration date helps bring the consumer through the door sooner rather than later.
  4. Sell Customer Service
    If you don’t offer discounts, you can sell your customer service instead:

    • Free WIFI
    • Free shuttle
    • Free coffee
    • Rental car
    • Extended warranty
  5. Aggressive Coupons
    Running an aggressive coupon can help when business is slow and you need to get customers through the door NOW! It’s also a great idea to run an aggressive coupon when trying to promote new services or new equipment in the shop:

    • Buy One, Get One
    • FREE
    • Customer Referrals

Now that you’re thinking about coupons, here are some additional ways they can help you maximize competitive advantage in your market:

  • Use coupons to leverage seasonal changes, holidays and special events
  • Coupons supply fresh information and create a sense of change and newness, giving consumers a reason to take interest in a business
  • Coupons allow you to introduce a new product line or services, alert patrons to expanded hours, special events and other news
  • Coupons keep existing customers coming back and also introduce your business to new customers

Building Customer Trust Can Be Easier Than You Think

It’s common knowledge that those customers who trust you and your business will buy more services over the lifetime of your relationship. But how do you accelerate the process of building trust with your customers so they will not only buy more services, but also share your business with their social network?

We believe that it could be as easy as saying “thank you” to your customers at the right time and place. Here are some ideas for thanking customers at the right time and using the right communication tactics and tools.

Thank You #1

Of course you’ll say “thank you” at the front counter when you’ve completed the work, but what about thanking your customers for giving your business a positive review? This overlooked trick is now easier than ever. Your positive review response is not only posted to show your future customers your good work and goodwill, but an email is also sent to that review customer with your response. You can read more about this and how Mitchell 1 shop management users can receive real-time review “Star” notifications while in the Manager SE program.

Thank You #2

Ok, so let’s now suppose that same customer comes back to your business a few months later. You remember the face and maybe you even remember their name, but did you remember that they gave you a glowing review after their last visit, and then also shared it with their Facebook friends? You do now.

It’s quick and easy to look that customer up in the SocialCRM website. Or, if you’re using Manager SE, you will see a star notification for that customer right on the Manager SE Customer, Vehicle, and RO screens. Just by putting your mouse over the button you’ll see how many stars they gave you last time, and by clicking that button you can read their comments…and say THANK YOU!

As they say – timing is everything and it is certainly true about building trust with your customers. By following these tips you’ll be sure not to miss your opportunity to build trusting customer relationships.

Who knows…you may even be ready to take the next step with your raving-fan customers by asking them to refer your business to a friend or community organization in which they are involved.

Dedicated Support for Customers – That Means You!

Customer support is a very important component to any business. When a customer needs assistance, they want to be able to reach out to someone and get help in a timely & efficient manner.

Here in SocialCRM, we use a “dedicated” customer support model. That means we give each of our shop customers a single point of contact — their very own Support Agent — who they can call when they have a question about their SocialCRM program. And we make sure customers know how and when they can reach their Support Agent, to get all the answers they need, when they need them.

Over the past few years, we’ve introduced several of our Support Agents right here in our blog. They’ve shared some of their best practices and tips to help you get the most out of the SocialCRM product. To highlight and reinforce these valuable points, let’s revisit some of the great information that has been shared over the past 24 months.

Back in June 2013, Chris Bonneau shared his insights on how to use the social media features to their full potential.

Chris says: I like to offer ideas on how to use the social media features of our service to their full potential. This includes things like taking a look at their Facebook page and helping them add as much relevant information possible, and doing the same for their business website. I help make sure they have links back to their SocialCRM business review page and the testimonial review window.”

In August 2013, Norman Willis talked about the importance of collecting customer email addresses for marketing and what the SocialCRM service can do to help shops collect as many email addresses as possible.

Norman says: Shops want to make sure to collect the correct name, address, phone number and email address from every consumer. This will ensure that service reminders and thank you emails are accurate and sent in a timely manner. If shops are unable to collect an email address, they can take advantage of the eConnect service that collects additional consumer email addresses for shops.” 

Mobile Friendly Emails and Appointments –
Walking a Mile in Your Customer’s Inbox – Ummm, I Mean “Shoes”

Have you ever played phone tag? You know those times when you received a voicemail message and return the phone call only to get someone else’s voicemail, and then you declare “Tag, you’re It!”? This scenario is the perfect illustration for how email can be a better alternative. That’s because the person writing the message can do it on their own schedule, while the person reading can do the same – it just makes good sense. Likewise, what if you could confirm an appointment request without picking up the phone – would it save you time?

Now that 88% of U.S. adults have cell phones and 50% of those are smartphones, it’s important that your message look good and be readable on their phone’s email. And now you’re in luck!

Mobile Friendly Emails and Appointment Request Screen
The Mitchell 1 SocialCRM team spent a good part of 2012 making sure your Service Reminder and Thank-You emails look good on your customers’ phones. In addition, we made sure that when your consumers click on the “Request Appointment” email link while on their phone, they will be delighted by your new mobile appointment page. It’s a fact that consumers respond better when the message received on their phone is formatted for mobile.

Appointment Request Button for Your Website
You can now also put our appointment request button on your shop’s website. The button is designed to scale to fit the space provided. You can request this HTML code from your SocialCRM support agent or log in and look under “Report Options.” To make it even easier for your customers, we automatically populate their contact and vehicle information when they click on the Request Appointment link in your emails. They simply have to put in the reason for the visit and send it by selecting “Request Appointment”.

Appointment Request Notification Emails and Tracking Report
You receive an email in your shop’s inbox when a customer submits an Appointment Request. If you’re afraid that you might miss a request in your inbox, you can avoid same-day appointment requests by asking your Support Agent to configure it appropriately.

What Would Non-Mobile Friendly Emails Look Like?

Would you schedule an appointment on your phone if you couldn’t read it? It’s a fact that the response rate is lower when you send a customer a non-mobile email to their phone. Good luck trying to read a non-mobile email on a 2-inch wide screen!