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Repair Shop Advice

Archive for March, 2020

The Importance of Customer Loyalty for Auto Parts Stores

March 31st, 2020

Type “customer loyalty” into your Google search bar and you’ll get ads for companies trying to sell you loyalty programs.  Below that is a featured snippet from the book The Intuitive Customer defining customer loyalty as a “result of a consistently positive emotional experience”.

When you really think about it, though, how effective is a loyalty program at inspiring an emotional response?  Who rolls into Starbucks, downloads their customer loyalty app, and feels an emotional connection when they earn their eight stars for a grande mocha?  (Only twenty more to go for a free vanilla syrup upgrade!)

The reality is that customer loyalty isn’t a present/absent attribute.  There are four different levels of loyalty — best option loyalty, habit-based loyalty, conscious loyalty and identity loyalty.  The higher the level of loyalty you are able to achieve, the less likely your auto parts store is to ever lose that customer.  If you’re using a card-punch or points-based program to earn customer loyalty, it’s not likely to get you past habit-based loyalty, and it may not even get you there.  Here are the details for each level.

Level 1: Best Option Loyalty
This is the base level of loyalty and it’s even a stretch to call it “loyalty.”  Customers at this level of loyalty visit your auto parts store because they think you’re the best option at the time.  In most cases, it’s because your store is nearby and they know that you helped them adequately the last time they came into your store or called in for something.  It might also be because they got a coupon book or a flyer from you, or they remember a discount you sent them that they can pull up on their smartphone.

This may seem like a weak form of loyalty – and it is.  People’s loyalty to most businesses they regularly visit never gets past this level, however.  They’ll keep using you as their source for auto parts until they get a good reason to walk away.  That could be a lower price or quicker delivery at a competitor, a strong referral to another store or a frustrating experience at your store.  That might take years – or it might happen tomorrow.

Level 2: Habit-Based Loyalty
If a customer calls on your auto parts store enough times, it will become a habit.  The average person makes thousands of decisions per day – several per minute.  It’s exhausting, which is why the human mind takes shortcuts and most decisions aren’t conscious.  Most decisions are based on habit – when you set your alarm clock, you probably set it for the same time every morning, unless you have a good reason to change it.  And if people visit your store enough times, they’ll keep coming to it unless they have a good reason to go somewhere else.

With customers at the habit-based loyalty level, a $5 coupon from a competitor or a minor delay in parts delivery from your store isn’t going to be enough to get them to change their behavior.  Changing auto parts stores often requires too much effort.  Is the other store rated well?  How quickly will they deliver?  Do they offer credit and a running balance?  Going to the trouble of figuring all of this out will require an emotional reason.

These customers will still change stores if they have an emotional reason to do so, however.  They’ll also do it if they decide that their habit no longer makes sense.  For consumers, that may mean that they’ve moved or changed jobs and your shop isn’t convenient anymore.  For repair shops, that probably means somebody else will offer the parts for less or offer on-demand delivery.

Level 3: Conscious Loyalty
To reach this level, customers have to feel like you’ve done something for them that is far outside of the norm for your industry.  Unlike lower levels of loyalty, this is an emotional connection – “I use this auto parts store because they’re the only one that does X for their customers” is generally an emotional statement.

It does not necessarily have to be anything expensive either.  It could be a simple gesture like offering extreme flexibility when expediting delivery for critical parts they need that day for a repair.  Even a hand-written thank you note can be a loyalty-winning surprise.

This level of loyalty can often be achieved by coming to a customer’s rescue when they need it most: providing a part that they can’t find anywhere else, making a special allowance for an immediate delivery on a critical job they are working on, providing them advice that works when they’ve run out of options, or saving them hundreds of dollars by identifying a much less expensive solution to what they thought was a thousand dollar problem.

Level 4: Identity Loyalty
Most consumers only have a handful of brands in their lives that form a part of their identity.  Vehicles are one of the few items where it’s common for customers to identify with a brand.  Most people who drive Harleys or Corvettes don’t do it because it was cheaper or had a better warranty than other motorcycles or cars.  They do it because they think the vehicle represents them personally.

When a customer has reached this level, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to get them to change.  In almost all cases, the only way they’ll change brands is if the product or service lets them down in a significant way or challenges some other aspect of their identity.  That’s because using something different requires more than just changing a product – it requires changing who they are and how they see themselves.  It most often requires a business or a brand to spend a tremendous amount of money and effort to ever have a chance at earning customers with identity loyalty, which is why most small businesses don’t have any customers who reach this level.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you attract loyal customers to your auto parts store, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com

When Workers Worry, They Leave in a Hurry

March 26th, 2020

With the possible exception of the financial stimulus bill, there hasn’t been much good news for auto repair shop owners (or really any business owners) in the past couple of weeks.  One of the only good things going for them:  after years of record low unemployment, not many technicians or service writers woke up today and thought it would be a good time to change jobs.

There’s talk of a 30% unemployment rate by serious people right now, so your shop employees are probably staying put.  For now.  But if your employees aren’t convinced that your shop can withstand the coming economic downturn, they’re going to at least consider a move in the coming months to a shop they think is on better financial footing.


If you are on a good financial footing, it’s important to give your employees enough information for them to have confidence that this is the case.  If you’ve been investing in your shop and in your employees over the past few years of economic expansion, they’ll believe you when you point out that you couldn’t have done that without a profitable business model.

If you aren’t in great financial shape, you need a plan for how to keep your best employees.  Otherwise, they will jump ship, leaving you only with your lower performing employees – the ones that couldn’t find work elsewhere.  As bad as the next few months might seem, it’s going to be much worse without your best staff members helping you pull through.

Finally, there are likely to be a lot of great deals out there in the coming months, and some great financing options to go with it.  But if you decide to make some long-term investments during the downturn, make sure to retain enough financial cushion to keep your best employees – even if the economy performs worse than expected.  Those debt companies keep sending the same bills even when your revenue starts drying up.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring revenue to your shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

3 Ways Auto Parts Stores Can Improve Customer Service and Why It Pays to Do So

March 25th, 2020

Have you noticed that there are many companies who love to claim that their customer service is great?  There are probably a good number of auto parts stores that you compete against that do it. One reason is that it’s not easily quantifiable.  Unlike claiming to be the cheapest, fastest or most experienced, it’s hard to point to a competitor’s claim and say ‘that’s a lie’ without making yourself look bad. 


Another reason businesses try so hard to claim great service is that it’s a major decision factor for the best customers.  According to a 2019 study, 57% of people said they’d pay more for great customer service and 73% said they’d be more likely to be a repeat customer.  In addition, most customers said that they would buy more services from employees they find friendlier.

Consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers quantified the financial value of great customer service in a 2018 study.   According to this study, consumers pay 16% more on average for great service.  Sixteen percent sounds like a solid boost. If you consider that it might not cost any additional money to improve your service, it becomes a tremendously valuable sum.  A 16% higher price may even double your profit margins.

Here are three ways you can improve your customer service to capture added revenue.

  • Improve your customer interactions over the phone – Many customers will interact with your store for the first time over the phone, even auto repair shops. Those first few seconds determine how likely they are to choose you over the other auto parts stores in town. Answer the phone warmly and introduce yourself and your business. Be engaged in the conversation and answer any questions the potential customer has. Show appreciation for the call whether they say they are coming in or not.
  • Focus on the customer, not the car – It’s easy to think of the customer’s vehicle as your patient. But if repairs are unexpected, and the customer has very little knowledge about what is needed, you’ve got a big opportunity to make an emotional connection. That emotional connection will be worth much more than just the sale of a few parts.  Figure out what the customer needs most, not the vehicle – and try to find a way to provide it.
  • Educate and empower customers – Going out of your way to help customers understand what’s wrong with their vehicle makes many of them more comfortable with paying what it costs for the parts to repair it. The same is true for helping them understand their options when it comes to the auto parts that you sell and making recommendations for how they should fix the problem.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your auto parts store earn most customers and make those customers more profitable, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com

Westside Auto Electric is Your Hometown Auto Repair Shop in Hudson FL

March 24th, 2020

Car repairs can be stressful, but it helps when you have a repair shop you can trust. Family owned and operated since 1989, Raj will give you honest advice, top-notch service, and fair prices – just like family. Westside Auto Electric has been a part of the Hudson Florida community for 30 years and their trained technicians strive to treat you and your vehicles with the utmost respect. They offer an extensive variety of services including  electrical services, heating and air, tires, and engine repairs. Stop by the shop at 14821 US-19 or call (727) 863-0424 today to make an appointment.

Leads That Last a Lifetime

March 24th, 2020

What’s the value of a new customer? It depends on the customer – but it also depends on the shop. Click here for ideas on how to turn jobs into recurring revenue without cutting away at your margins by handing out a coupon book.
 

P&A Smith Auto Maintenance is Your Hometown Auto Repair Specialist

March 24th, 2020

Cary, North Carolina’s P&A Smith Auto Maintenance is the place to go for all of your car repair needs. All repairs are carried out by their certified, expert technicians, and they have years of experience. They do everything from oil changes to a complete engine overhauls. They use high-tech diagnostic equipment to guarantee your vehicle is repaired. Additionally, they only use the highest quality replacement parts, filters, oils, and components. Call the shop at (919) 249-5591 for an appointment. You can also visit them at 130 Woodwinds Industrial Court in Cary today.

Tulare Auto Repair – Experience You can Trust

March 20th, 2020

Tulare Automotive Repair in Tulare, CA is the place to go to get your car up and running in top condition. Owner Alfonso has a passion for cars and will treat you and your vehicle with respect. Some of their services include emissions testing, engine maintenance and repair, oil changes, and muffler servicing just to name a few. Stop by the shop at 1089 E Tulare Ave or call (559) 686-1009 to schedule an appointment.

What We Learned from the Last Recession

March 19th, 2020

It’s amazing how fast reality can change.  One month ago, the economy was in great shape, with low unemployment, high customer confidence, and all-time high stock prices.  All three of those are getting shattered this week.

Don’t panic – even in tough times, good decisions make prosperous companies.  Here are some important learnings from past recessions.

 Customer Needs Change

Customers don’t pay auto shops to fix cars, they pay them to fix problems.  Unfortunately, right now customers might assume that interaction with your shop will create more problems than it fixes.

Shops and customers both have a common understanding of why they go to a repair shop, and what happens when they get there.  But all of that knowledge gets upended during times of crisis.  Think about how this virus should change the way you operate and tell customers about it.  Can you conduct business in an open-air space instead of the enclosed waiting area?  What maintenance and repair can you offer without ever setting foot inside the customer’s vehicle?  If you do need to get inside, what precautions do you need to take to prevent direct contact with the seat, steering wheel, gear shift and door handles?

 Get Ahead of the Curve

Part of the reason we’re facing so much uncertainty in the US is that we didn’t get ahead of the curve.  That same problem happens when businesses face a recession.  If you wait until the bank account is running low to prepare a response, your options will be far more limited.  We don’t know for sure if the economy will sink after the immediate health scare is over.  But if it does, you’re going to need to make a wide range of changes to your business to succeed during that time.  Have a plan for how you’ll put those changes into effect as soon as your customers are moving around normally.

 Transportation Isn’t Optional

There’s a good chance that this outbreak will send us into a global recession.  That’s bad news, but it doesn’t mean the world is ending.  There have been twenty recessions since Henry Ford built the Model T, and the auto repair industry has survived every one of them.  Consumers can forego all sorts of purchases, but transportation isn’t optional.

In fact, repair shops can benefit from recessions.  Recessions can force people to prioritize necessary purchases over preferred ones.  There are plenty of people who prefer to get a new vehicle every three to five years – but better judgement might bring those people to your shop for automotive service instead.

In fact, with automakers facing so many supply chain issues for their vehicle parts, they might not have much of a choice. The average vehicle has 30,000 parts, and the assembly line stops when they run out of one of them.  For repair shops, on the other hand, a shortage of one part only prevents one type of repair.  Hopefully, the industry will find supply alternatives for most parts affected by the crisis.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring more business to your shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com

Princess Anne Automotive Center

March 17th, 2020

Norfolk, VA area Princess Anne Automotive Center is the place to go for all of your car repair needs. All repairs are carried out by their certified, expert technicians, and they have years of experience. They do everything from oil changes to a complete engine overhauls. For instance, they use high-tech diagnostic equipment to guarantee your vehicle is repaired. Additionally, they only use the highest quality replacement parts, filters, oils, and components. Call the shop at 757-858-0744 for an appointment. You can also visit them at 5333 E Princess Ave today. 

Arnie’s Service Center is Philadelphia’s One-stop Shop for Auto Repair

March 11th, 2020

Arnie’s Service Center in Philadelphia, PA is the place to go to get your car up and running in top condition. Owner Jay Ladzenski has a passion for cars and will treat you and your vehicle with respect. Some of their services include transmissions, engine maintenance and repair, oil changes, and brake servicing just to name a few. Stop by the shop at 5870 Harbison Ave or call (215) 744-7787 to schedule an appointment.