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Repair Shop Advice


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Yes! That may seem like an obvious answer, but many shop owners, shop managers and service advisors are hesitant to ask a customer to post a review.

Some people feel that asking a customer to post a review can come off as pushy or tacky. Others feel that if the customer isn’t going to do it on their own, then they didn’t really earn the review.

All of those feelings are completely understandable. However, here are a couple of important findings that come directly from our recent survey of nearly 600 auto repair shop customers:

  • 18% posted reviews for a shop after not being asked
  • 62% posted reviews for a shop after being asked

62% of auto repair customers posted a review when asked

So, your customers are three times more likely to post a review if you ask them to than if you leave them to do it on their own. This is increasingly more important as your potential customers see reviews as the new social proof. Social proof is the concept that when people are inexperienced in making certain decisions they will seek out conformity and copy the actions of others to avoid making a mistake and not being accepted.

This explains one side of why reviews are an important tool to help you attract new customers from your online presence. Strongly positive reviews help assure potential customers that they will not be making a mistake by taking their vehicle to your repair shop, and the higher number of reviews that you have, the stronger the signals of conformity will be in their brain, even if they don’t realize that is what is driving them to make the decision.

The other side of why reviews are such an important tool in helping you attract new customers from the web is that Google uses reviews as a factor in where your auto repair shop is displayed on the local pack and in organic search results. For the local pack (the listings that are usually right below the map), the number one factor is how close your shop is to where the user is who is searching. But not too far behind that are:

  • #12 – Quantity of Native Google Reviews (with text)
  • #19 – High Numerical Ratings of Business by Google Users (4-5 stars)

Those rankings are out of around 200 factors.

And while you are asking a customer for a review, go ahead and ask them to mention the specific services you provided to them. That’s especially true if it’s a service you’d like to perform more of (maybe because of the high margins or the tech utilization) or that you have particular expertise in. The #14 factor for the Local Pack is “Product/Service Keywords in Reviews.”

If engine replacement is a service you want to provide as many times as you possibly can, then be sure that you ask the customer for a review every time you perform an engine replacement. And specifically ask them to include the words engine replacement in the review.

The same is true if you prefer to service BMWs. Ask your BMW customers to specifically include BMW in their reviews.

To sum it up, yes, ask your happy customers to post reviews for your auto repair shop, especially on Google and Facebook. And don’t stop there, ask them to include specifics about the services that you provided and their experience in working with you.

If you are interested in hearing more about reviews, we encourage you to listen to Episode 5 of our Busy Bays Podcast – What are your Google Reviews doing for you?

And if you’d like help getting more reviews and responding to them, please contact us at 866-665-1605 or Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Hiring technicians is the largest challenge many auto repair shops face. For most other shops, it will become their largest problem as soon as they lose an employee.  This is the third post in a three-part series on building a strategy to recruit, retain and elevate your technicians.  The first post, The Technicians You Need: Building Your Team, can be found here.  The second, The Technicians You Need: Keeping Your Team Together, can be found here.

If you’ve got a great team of employees, you’re already ahead of most shops.  There’s no drama between employees. You’re probably not dealing with bad repairs. Your customers aren’t being ignored or disrespected.

Unfortunately, none of this means that you’re necessarily profitable.


Profitability comes from efficiency, and efficiency comes from processes.  Designing, executing and measuring the results of your shop processes will help your employees improve the results of your shop every day they’re in the shop.

There are plenty of resources that detail how to build and measure results of the most common shop processes, including marketing, vehicle workflow and customer interaction.  There are a few processes that aren’t as obvious, but can save you in the long run.  Here are three of them.

Professional Development

It’s rare for most people to provide the same level of value to a shop year after year.  If they’re not growing their skillset, they’re growing less valuable every year.  Their skills are less relevant every time something changes in the world – and the world changes every day.  That’s why professional development shouldn’t be viewed as an event or an option, but a process that every employee engages in.

What is each employee’s role in the shop?  How will that role change in the coming years, and what are they doing to prepare for those changes?  How will things change in your shop, and are they equipped to handle any strategic business changes you’re planning to make?  Your professional development process is what keeps your employees providing more value to your shop each year, rather than less.

Cross-Training

Think about each of your employees (including yourself, if you’re regularly in the shop).  Now ask the question, “If that person were unexpectedly out of the shop for two weeks, what challenges would we encounter?”

If that exercise got your heart racing, it’s time to implement cross-training.  Document all of the processes that have a single point of failure, and ask yourself who would be the best person to perform those tasks if an employee had to step out for an extended period of time.  This will reduce your stress, and make it more likely that your shop will weather an unexpected emergency affecting your key shop employees.

Customer Retention

Retaining a customer is many times cheaper than earning a new one.  Despite this, it’s easy to forget about a customer that isn’t in your shop and isn’t asking for your attention, especially on days when there are plenty of customers that are asking you for help.

Once the repair is complete, the clock starts ticking on how much you can impress that customer.  Did you contact them promptly?  Did you provide a thorough explanation of what you did, and what the charges are for on their receipt?  Did an employee ask if they had any questions, and try to answer them thoroughly? Did you ask unhappy customers what you can do to help make it right, and did you ask happy ones if they would provide an online review?

The process doesn’t end when they leave the shop, either.  Shops that send hand-written or hand-signed letters to new customers or customers who have had major repairs done are more likely to see those customers again.  And because you already have their vehicle information on record, those customers can be handled more efficiently and more profitably than new ones.  For every dollar you spend on implementing a customer retention process, you could save five or more dollars on ads or postcard campaigns designed to attract new customers.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring new customers to your shop, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Hiring technicians is the largest challenge many auto repair shops face. For most other shops, it will become their largest problem as soon as they lose an employee.  This is the second post in a three-part series on building a strategy to recruit, retain and elevate your technicians.  The previous post, The Technicians You Need: Building Your Team, can be found here.

For an auto repair shop to have a good shot at remaining open five years from now, shop owners and managers need to be focused on retention.  Because of the difficulty of hiring qualified technicians, a high turnover rate will be difficult to weather while keeping bays and lifts busy enough to pay the bills.  And if technicians that are looking for jobs hear that turnover is a problem at your shop, they might not even consider working there.


Most shop owners aspire to more than merely keeping the shop open, however; they have goals they want to accomplish through their shop.  Some want to expand into a larger space, or open additional facilities.  Some want to provide a great work environment, along with good pay and benefits for their employees and for themselves.  Some want to improve the lives of citizens in the community.

Whatever your goals, a focus on retention can help make them a reality.  That’s because it’s impossible to focus on retention without focusing on hiring the best employees and giving them what they need to be successful.

Hiring the Best

As mentioned in the first post in this series, the best employees aren’t necessarily the ones with the most experience or technical knowledge.  The best employees are the ones that have integrity, a desire to succeed, and an innate desire to treat people well.

Integrity – The most important part of a top tier employee is that they have integrity.  There’s nothing you can do to train an adult that honesty is important; if they haven’t figured it out by now, they’re not going to figure it out.  Honest employees will appreciate an environment where they can trust their co-workers and their supervisors to be honest with them and treat them with respect.

Drive – When all your employees have a desire to succeed, they will push each other to meet goals, and they’ll be motivated by seeing those around them meet the goals.  If you can provide attainable goals and a rewarding work environment, they will push your shop forward every single day.

Customer Service – Unlike honesty, customer service can (and does) improve with training.  Much of it is about prioritization – there are so many things going on in a shop that it’s often difficult to stop and imagine how the customer feels about the process they are experiencing.  For customer service training to be successful, however, your employees must have an innate desire to please customers.  If they’re more inclined to focus on vehicles or process than the customers who are paying your shop, they’re unlikely to pick up on cues that the customer is unhappy until it’s too late.

Giving Employees What They Need

If you hire the right people, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time keeping them positive, goal-oriented and motivated by customer satisfaction.  You do have to spend time on your employees, however.  Good employees have professional goals, and they want the opportunity to learn new skills on the job. They also want time to train on new skills and keep up-to-date on modern vehicle repair.

Some of your employees may even have the desire to become a shop manager or owner themselves.  These are among your most valuable employees, because you can train them to step in when you’re sick, on vacation, or otherwise unavailable to manage the shop.  And whether you want to open additional locations, or you just want to retire one day, having someone in the shop who can step in and fill the shoes of a shop manager is one of the most important parts of any succession plan.

A retention plan doesn’t look much different than a successful shop business plan.  Hire the right kind of employees, and give them what they need to get to the next phase of their professional development.  Make sure that you’re taking advantage of their new-found skills to maximize the profit of your business.  And try to ensure that you have at least one person who is being mentored towards shop management, so they can step in when you can’t.  And when you do lose an employee, don’t get in a rush and hire a high-performing jerk.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring more business to your shop with a powerful website, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Hiring technicians is the largest challenge many auto repair shops face. For most other shops, it will become their largest problem as soon as they lose an employee.  This is the first post in a three-part series on building a strategy to recruit, retain and elevate your technicians.

Many shops are floored with the level of competition in recruiting service technicians.  If you’ve needed technicians in the last few months, you’ve probably seen just how difficult it can be to attract qualified, personable people to join your team.  The shortage is dire enough that staffing is an issue even for shops that don’t need technicians – because their best team members are being recruited by other shops desperate for help.

Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse.  The technicians of today are being pulled in multiple directions by dealerships, independent shops and businesses that need technicians to service their fleets in-house.   The technicians of 2021-2025 are being pulled in many other directions.  They don’t even know that they’re interested in auto repair – and they may never find out.

High-school and technical school students with an interest in skilled trades are becoming exceedingly rare.  They are being recruited by every industry that could use their help, including the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and even industrial mechanical industries.  Once they begin a skilled trade path, they will likely transition into that field and continue to develop their skills in that area without ever considering another one.

Most shops have a stated preference for candidates with a certain level of experience.  Managers can’t imagine themselves having to take on the added burden of training a first-time employee on the basics of employment on top of auto repair.  While they wait for a qualified candidate to come along, they settle for no employee at all, which can force them to turn away business and damage their reputation and their bottom line.

“Green” employees have advantages that employers don’t often consider.  While they need to be trained, they don’t need to be retrained, which is generally harder.  They don’t have expectations of what it’s like to be in the workforce, and as a result they will often mesh better with your team and have a less entitled attitude.  They are also appreciative of the opportunity to bolster their skills, and they’re sometimes more interested in mentorship and career trajectory than a higher starting salary.

Whether you’re having trouble hiring now, or you want to insulate yourself from this challenge in future years, it’s worth your time to explore building a “farm team” of apprentices and trainees that see your shop as a great way to enter the skilled trades workforce.  This could be as easy as taking on apprentices who are already going down the path of auto repair. It could also include offering training programs or career presentations through your local community or technical college, or even local high schools.

It’s true that this requires time, which is a valuable commodity for many repair shop owners and managers.  It’s also true that this approach may take months (or years, depending on your audience) to yield full-time technicians.  Becoming recognized as a top place to start a new career, however, could provide a steady stream of eager, affordable new recruits for years to come.  Shops that achieve this goal have one of the biggest competitive advantages in the auto repair industry – the people to get the job done.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your shop earn more business, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Taking care of your online presence is much like taking care of your car. They both need attention and care from those who do it best. Your business is found online by customers who need their car worked on. Click here to learn how to make your online presence count.

 

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I cannot believe what a state of the art website that you created for us. We started getting website contacts and telephone calls from our website almost instantly! The first 5 customers spent $1,723 and we got 9 new customers in the first month alone.

John Aldridge, owner
A & A Tire and Auto Service

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