We are in an era whereas with each passing day technology is making pricing more accessible to the general public, customer expectations of transparency are at an all-time high, and social media is providing your customers with a platform for sharing their opinions. Miss just one of these, and you will struggle to grow your business.
So here are our recommendations at Elite Worldwide:
With the understanding that you will be seeing your customers less frequently, let’s start with keeping the customers you currently have. As soon as possible, have a meeting with your entire crew and discuss the future of your business, and how you are going to constantly work on improving the customer experience. Then, schedule the time to review every customer touch point, from incoming calls, all the way through engine/vehicle delivery and customer follow-up. Although there are many customer reward and loyalty programs, I am sure you will agree that the best way to generate repeat business is by providing your customers with extraordinary service at every touch point.
Secondly, you need to ensure you have a marketing plan in place that not only brings in new customers, but, more importantly, the right kind of customers. The top shops that we work with at Elite know who their targeted customers are, and they target their marketing programs directly at those potential customers. In addition to knowing who your targeted customers are, you will need to ensure that you direct at least 50% of your marketing budget toward non-traditional marketing programs.
With the growing number of advertising mediums that are available, and with the fragmentation of the different media, you will need to invest in non-traditional campaigns that will not only reach your targeted customers, but will resonate with them as well.
These non-traditional campaigns should include advertising at local events, getting involved in fundraisers and charities, participating in community organizations, etc. When people know that you care about your community, and the people within your community, they will view you as having the values that they are looking for in a service provider.
There has never been a more important time to build one’s brand in the automotive repair business. You need to ensure that your name is everywhere, and that you deliver a consistent message. Knowing your targeted customer is one thing, but providing them with a consistent message, and delivering on that message, is brand building. The top shops in America understand this, and they will certainly be using a well-executed brand-building strategy in the coming years.
As we move through 2013 and forward, you will also need to ensure that your employees are well trained when it comes to helping your customers make good decisions with the engines you build for them. With rebuild intervals being what they are, it may be a good while before you see that customer again, so as you well know, the recommended services that aren’t performed during their visit to your shop, may never be performed.
In summary, here is what you are going to need to do to make sure that 2013 is your best year ever.
- Set your goals, and have a meeting with your entire team. This is where you need to discuss your goals, and how you will be reviewing every customer touch point to ensure it’s a positive experience.
- You will also need to ensure that you have a well-thought-out marketing plan in place that brings in the right kinds of customers on whom you will need to focus your brand-building efforts.
- You will need to ensure that you have extraordinary people working with you who are well trained, and who live by a principle that they will never put money ahead of people.
You have my promise: Apply these recommendations to your business, and you may very well find that 2013 is your shop’s best year ever.