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Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Vehicles are lasting longer than ever without requiring a major, unjustifiable repair, which is great news for independent repair shops. It’s not great news for new vehicle dealers, which are having to work harder than ever to convince people to buy a new vehicle to keep their vehicle sales up. Since they can’t rely on old vehicles falling apart as easily as they used to, they’re having to lure customers who have old (but functional) cars with new technology that improves the driving experience.
Here are two technologies which are picking up rapidly in the new vehicle market – and one that isn’t.
The average smartphone user is on their phone for more than 4 hours a day – one out of every four minutes they’re awake. The problem is that driving a vehicle and operating a phone don’t go together well. Anything that new vehicle manufacturers can do to provide safer functionality from a driver’s phone will not only make their experience better, it will also keep people on the road alive.
Many newer vehicles have Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto, which makes it far easier to communicate with your phone using your vehicle. You can use voice commands along with buttons on the steering wheel to get directions, make calls, listen to music stored on the phone or even send and receive messages.
With more and more phones supporting wireless charging, some of the newest vehicles have a location near the armrest where a phone can be laid to charge wirelessly. Pairing a phone is also being made easier. While most cars require any unrecognized phone to go through a pairing process, the 2018 Accord has a place on the dashboard where you can tap your phone against to pair it automatically. Anything that makes it easier to use a smartphone’s services without having to touch the smartphone itself will be a selling point for new vehicles.
Arizona’s recent order allowing fully autonomous driving was quickly followed by one of Uber’s vehicles hitting and killing a pedestrian. Uber’s rights to test in Arizona were suspended, but Google and others are still testing vehicles both in Arizona and in California, with Texas tests coming soon. All of these companies are aiming for fully autonomous vehicles, but there’s plenty of debate about when they’ll get there.
That debate isn’t beside the point – but it’s close. Vehicle manufacturers don’t have to wait for fully autonomous driving to implement the self-driving technology. Since the advent of cruise control, cars have come a long way in driving themselves. Even mid-range cars now have lane assist, which prevents vehicles from switching lanes into a vehicle. Some vehicles will automatically break if the vehicle in front of them slams on breaks, avoiding a wreck before the driver has even had time to react. The most recent news is that Cadillac’s 2018 CT6 will include Super Cruise, which advertises hands-free driving but requires you to keep your eyes on the road (and in-vehicle cameras will make sure you do).
All of these systems are appealing to customers who want to stay safer. As they become more hands-off, they’ll become more appealing to customers who want to relax while they’re in the vehicle. And all of these are very complex, high tech systems that rely on LIDAR hardware and processors from companies like NVIDIA who have their roots in computers and data centers. Shops that want to serve customers with these vehicles in the coming years will need technicians with plenty of training in systems that aren’t even fully developed as of 2018.
One area that’s received more press than it probably deserves is electric vehicles. While they’re certainly becoming more prominent, they’re still a relative rarity, and they will continue to be for the next several years. These vehicles aren’t projected to see an exponential uptick in sales until after 2025 – and even then, they’re most likely to be prominent in countries with very strict pollution rules due to smog, such as China and India. They’ll likely continue to represent fewer than 10% of all vehicles sold through at least 2025, and possibly through the end of that decade. Still, if you’re in an urban area and are able to position your shop as the independent shop of choice for this niche market in the next few years, your profit margins will probably thank you.
To learn more about how Repair Shop Websites can help your shop succeed, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
The recent uproar over data misuse at Facebook has led to plenty of unwelcome news for Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be appearing in Congress this week for two days of testimony, which is likely to degenerate into members of Congress yelling at him.
All of these events have led to three important realizations for businesses relying on Facebook to get their message out:
Facebook is extremely powerful. Most people expect that companies will take care of and protect their data. The bare minimum should be, at the least, following the law. But fewer than half of all people in the US even trust Facebook to follow the law. Despite that, Zuckerberg is reporting that the scandal isn’t even affecting how many users it has. Facebook has become such an integral part of people’s lives that they can’t stop using it even when they believe they should.
For the time being, this is why it’s so essential for companies to have a presence on Facebook. Without it, the major portion of the population who spends most of their time on Facebook is unlikely to run into any information about your company.
Facebook isn’t immortal. Google has been among the top 20 websites in the world since 2001, and it’s been the most visited site every year since 2008. Before that, the top site was Yahoo. Even as social media platforms ebb and flow in popularity (remember MySpace?) the web will be alive and well. That’s why it’s important to have your own presence on the web, in the form of a website – one that searches well and looks professional.
If you want to be where customers are, you want to be on the web. One of the numbers that’s been referenced in the news about Facebook is the number of active users they have: as of late 2017, 239 million people in the US and Canada visited the site at least once a month, or 66% of the entire North American population! Web usage is even higher – 89% of all US citizens have internet connections. On average, Americans spend 24 hours online per week.
Everything consumers used to do to find a reliable repair shop, they do online now. They get referrals from friends online. They review your reputation online. They find your phone number online, and they might even submit questions to your shop online. Up until the time they call you, they’ve probably learned everything they’re going to learn about you on the internet. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re visible online and you’re earning business online.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your shop increase its online presence, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Friday, April 6, 2018
Every decision or process that helps you fix cars more quickly without sacrificing quality will lead to higher profits. If you’re busy, you can fix more cars; if you need more customers, you can lower your prices without reducing your margins.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Do you face revenue shortfalls during certain times of year? Is your auto repair shop facing increasing competition and wanting a way to differentiate itself? Or, do you want to continue to grow your revenue and your business? Here are a few services you can add for new revenue streams for your shop.
Sometimes people are reluctant to visit a shop when the weather gets really bad. That’s also when they’re most likely to get stuck on the side of the road, whether that’s due to snow, rain – or the fact that they didn’t want to visit a shop during the bad weather. Adding towing can help increase revenue both due to the towing fees, and also because you can tow it back to your shop, claiming the repair business as well. You may want to consider adding other roadside services, capturing revenue without having to tow the vehicle away.
Powersport and Utility Vehicle Repairs
While you might not want to do small motor repairs for items like lawnmowers, there are plenty of vehicles other than personal transportation vehicles that cost thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. Repairing ATVs, utility vehicles, and snowmobiles may offer both new revenue streams and a means to differentiate your shop. An added bonus: if customers for these repairs are pleased with your work, they might start bringing their vehicles to you as well.
Ignition Interlock Systems
These systems require a driver to blow into a breathalyzer before their vehicle will start. They are court-mandated for people convicted of DUI offenses in an increasing number of states, and because the service isn’t optional for these drivers if they want to retain their license, selling them to customers who need them is not difficult. Selling them often requires certification from the part providers, who include Monitech, Smart Start and ALCOLOCK.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help bring business into your auto repair shop, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Monday, March 26, 2018
Over the past few years, Repair Shop Websites has covered dozens of ways you can help your business grow, from marketing to hiring to performance measurement. Some of the most effective changes can take a lot of time to put in place, unfortunately. That’s not true for all of them, however. Here are five suggestions that your business could implement and see results almost immediately.
Define, Measure and Share Your Key Metrics: If you don’t already have a few measures that help you determine how your shop is performing week-by-week, pick a few of them – examples include car count, technician productivity, or technician efficiency. Measure these constantly, post them where shop staff can see them, and ask them what you can do to improve them without compromising service or quality. In the words of famous business researcher Peter Drucker, what gets measured gets managed.
Revamp Your Phone Service: It only takes a few seconds for a potential customer to hear you on the phone and decide you’re not really all that interested in their business. Often times, that happens before you ever learn whether that person needs an oil change or a transmission overhaul. That’s why it’s so critical to give every phone call the same attention you’d expect if you were making a $2,000 purchase yourself – as soon as you pick up the phone.
Really Ask for Reviews: Many shop managers don’t realize how critical online reviews are. Those five stars next to every repair shop’s name online are the single most important factor for a huge percentage of people when selecting a repair shop for their vehicle. Always ask happy customers for online reviews, and explain what it means to you to see those reviews online.
Mentor Your Top Talent: One of the most important things you can do as a shop manager or owner is to regularly help your top talent continue to grow their professional skill-set. Not only will this make them more satisfied with their jobs and more eager to please you, it will also position them to take over increasingly more important tasks, allowing you to regularly step out of your shop so you can handle long-term strategy…and maybe even take a vacation.
Impress Your Best Customers – Again: Every shop has a few top customers: those that trust the shop’s advice fully, and always bring their vehicle(s) in for regular maintenance. Make sure that you’re working hard to let these top customers know that you appreciate their business. If they ever visit another shop that’s smart enough to understand the value of this type of customer, they’ll pull out all the stops to make sure they steal them from you forever.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your auto repair shop succeed, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.