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Repair Shop Advice


Thursday, June 20, 2019

After ten years of economic growth, things may finally be starting to change.  Some economic indicators are trending negative, and a recent survey of CFOs across the US found that half of them expect to be in a recession within a year.

For most industries, a recession is bad news.  During a recession, people make less and spend less.  That means fewer jobs and lower pay, which helps to feed a negative cycle.  While there are very few industries that are recession-proof, there are some that are recession-resistant.


Is auto repair one of those industries?

The answer is yes – but that doesn’t mean that the industry isn’t affected.  For every person who holds on to their vehicle longer (providing more revenue to the shops who maintain them) there’s another person who puts off a needed repair because they can’t afford it.  For each dealership that closes, there’s another one that’s trying to boost service center revenue to offset reduced vehicle sales.  For every customer that leaves for a cheaper shop, there’s another who can’t afford the dealership or franchise upcharge and might make your shop their new home.

In short, auto repair shops that survive best during the recession are those that understand how the customers and community are being affected, and adjust their services to help them meet their current challenges.  This isn’t a wordy way of saying that you should lower your prices – if that’s necessary, it’s still only one component of an effective response.

Here are three things that happen during a recession, and what you can do to help address them.

  • Consumers are less able to handle large purchases. When recessions hit, many consumers are forced to dip into savings to handle large expenses – if they have any savings at all.  This is due to job losses and a reduction in hours worked for hourly workers.  Consumers are also less likely to have large lines of credit available, because credit standards tighten during recessions.  Selling maintenance plans and emphasizing warranties will help consumers have confidence that they’ll avoid an expense they can’t afford, and end up without a means of transportation.

  • People hold on to cars longer. People don’t want to make large purchases during a recession, so they hold on to cars instead of trading them in.  Remember “cash for clunkers”?  It was a vehicle trade-in program funded by the government during the last recession. The program was intended to boost the economy by encouraging people to trade in their old vehicles, in part because dealers were badly hurting for sales.

    People holding on to older vehicles is great news for independent shops, because those older vehicles will need maintenance to stay on the road.  To really benefit from this, however, you’ll need to put time into customer education.  Customers must believe that the trade-off between short-term maintenance and long-term reliability is real, or they may elect to delay maintenance, too.

    If there’s wear on a part, make sure to show the customer what a worn part looks like and what a new part looks like.  Provide customers with an honest explanation of what might reasonably happen if they don’t take a preventative step, and leave the choice to them – once they understand the consequences, they might reconsider their decision to wait.

  • Consumers start to cut costs. It’s often during recessions that new business models overtake old ones.  There are certainly plenty of threats out there that could lead to high-value repair shops being bankrupted by cheap shops.  For instance, if a company like Amazon launched a price-based system where people could buy services like brake and tire replacements, it would quickly lead to a race-to-the-bottom mentality for shops racing to get that business.  While customers might not appreciate the cut-rate quality of the parts and service they’d get in normal times, a product like this is primed to take off during a recession, where people are looking for easy ways to cut costs.

    As your customers go down their bank statement looking for monthly transactions to cut, will your shop stand out as a cost-cutting opportunity?  That may depend on whether they view your shop as a cost or a

    Do your customers understand and appreciate all the value they get from having a home for their car that’s staffed by technicians they trust?  Every time you present customers with information about their car that will help them make good decisions in the future, you’re reminding them of what they’re going to lose if they move to the cheapest fee-for-service alternative in town.  Take advantage of the opportunities you get, because you’re not likely to be a part of the conversation when they decide whether price-shopping for cheaper shops is worth it when they’re in a financial pinch!

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


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Nine out of ten people read online reviews, and only a quarter of them would do business with a company rated 1 or 2 stars. Click here for a process to boost the reputation of your auto repair shop with almost no added work on your part.

 


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Repair Shop Websites surveyed nearly 600 U.S. auto repair shop customers to determine what shops could be doing to increase their business and make customers happier. This infographic highlights some of the key findings of this research, which include:

  • Independent repair shop customers are happier
  • Convenience and service quality attract customers
  • Trustworthy technicians and service quality create customer loyalty
  • Customers really hate bad reviews
  • And they don’t mind leaving good ones when asked

Click or tap the image below to see the full infographic!

Auto Repair Shop Customer Survey


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The short answer is yes, but there’s more to it than just posting a quick response. 

We talked about this in some detail during episode five of our Busy Bays Podcast – “What are your Google Reviews doing for you?”.   It’s probably most helpful if we address this question by breaking reviews into three different groups – excellent reviews, bad reviews and false reviews.

The Garage Google review

Responding to excellent reviews

This is the easiest type of review to respond to and by going a step or two beyond just saying thanks, you can help your auto repair shop in a couple of different ways.  A good way to do this is to mention something personal about the customer who left the review and to reference the service that you provided for them. 

First and foremost, you should respond to thank them for taking the time to post a review for your shop.  We all lead busy lives these days, so it’s important to show appreciation to a customer who is willing to take the time to help your auto repair shop. 

Second, by including something personal about the customer, you are showing that you really care about them as a customer.  This helps keep the relationship with the customer strong and also shows potential customers who will be looking at the reviews how much you care about your customers.

Finally, including something about the service you provided will help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  This will help you show up in the Local Pack (the list of 3-4 businesses that shows up just below the map in a results page from Google) when somebody searches for that service in your area and it will also help your website search better as long as it is linked to your Google My Business profile.

Responding to bad reviews

It can be very difficult to hold your tongue when somebody blasts you in a review, especially if you feel strongly that they are wrong.  But the important point to remember is that potential customers who read the review will have no way of knowing who is right and who is wrong.  If you respond in a non-professional way, you are demonstrating to potential customers that you are not professional.  As unfair as that may be, that’s the way it works.

Your best move is to respond very respectfully, with something along the lines of “we are sorry you feel that way about your visit to our shop.”  Mention something about how “we strive to provide the best service in town to all our customers.”  And follow that up with “I’d be happy to talk to you personally about your experience.”

In a case where you know that something went wrong with their service, it’s a good idea to be more apologetic.  Almost all customers are forgiving and know that nobody gets it right 100% of the time.  People reading the review and seeing your response will respect you more and be more likely to choose you if they see that type of response. 

Responding with “our goal is 100% customer satisfaction and unfortunately we missed the mark in this instance.  I’d really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and discuss how we can make it right,” is a great way to demonstrate your care for your customers in the face of a mistake.

Responding to false reviews

Occasionally, we’ll see a review pop up for one of our customers that is either mistaken or blatantly false.  An example would be if somebody writes that they visited your auto repair shop on a Saturday but you are not open on Saturdays.

In these examples it is totally appropriate to point out that they must be mistaken.  Writing something like “we are sorry you had a bad experience, but you clearly didn’t go to our shop.  We haven’t been open on Saturday in 20 years,” is a good way to address it.  Asking them to remove the review because of the mistake is also totally appropriate.  Feel free to also encourage them to stop by your shop for a much different experience.

Like with almost anything, there are some nuances to how you will want to respond to any review.  But, if you use the recommendations above as a guide, and remember it will not be just the person who wrote the review that reads your response but many potential customers, you can further utilize reviews as a way to help you gain more customers.

You may also want to read: Should I Ask Customers to Post Reviews for My Auto Repair Shop?

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, 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.

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A & A Tire and Auto Service

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