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Repair Shop Advice


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ride-sharing companies have finally hit the peak of the business world, with both Uber and Lyft becoming publicly-traded companies this year.  Granted, that process wasn’t a smooth one for them.  Nonetheless, there are literally millions of people who drive for Uber or Lyft in the US either for extra cash or as a full-time job.

And the pay isn’t good.  While drivers make around $20 to $25 per hour, that number drops to around $8 after you factor in expenses, including gas and vehicle wear and tear.  There’s a lot these drivers can’t control;  they can’t control the price of gas, how much a customer tips them, or how much Uber or Lyft takes from every drive (more than 30% of the ride price, on average).  One thing they can control is vehicle maintenance.


Because Uber and Lyft drivers use their vehicles to make money, it doesn’t make any sense for them to push for a short-term fix; they don’t make any money when their vehicle is in the shop, and they put a lot of miles on the vehicle each week.  It also doesn’t make sense for them to use the cheapest mechanic in town, for the same reasons.

What they need is a good, honest shop that can affordably keep their vehicle running for as long as possible despite the heavy usage.  And if they are a full-time rideshare driver, the odds are good that they will need to visit their auto repair shop often.  If that sounds like a good customer for your shop, then you might consider targeting Uber or Lyft drivers with advertisements or promotions.

Ratchet and Wrench reports that some independent shops offer Uber and Lyft-specific inspections, or even promote driving for the ride-sharing services within the shop.  The chain repair shops are getting into the game, too.  Pep Boys offers free inspections and reduced prices for Lyft drivers, while Uber drivers get discounts at Firestone, Maaco, and many other chain repair shops and parts providers.

Not all shops will be a great fit for Uber and Lyft drivers – specialty import shops and luxury repair, for instance, are most often a bad fit for most rideshare drivers.  But if you’re a general automotive shop and you’re looking for long-term, frequent-flyer customers, ridesharing promotions might just fit the bill.

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


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

When customers see (or hear) something that causes them to doubt the quality of your work, they are less likely to be satisfied with that work – even if it was exceptional. Click here to learn how to maintain the appearance of an experienced, high-caliber shop.
 


Thursday, August 29, 2019

New equipment can open up new opportunities for business.  It can make repairs easier or less frustrating.  Also, it’s just fun to have nice, new equipment in the shop.

Unfortunately, new equipment can also be a giant waste of money.  If you financed some portion of it, it can also be a drag on shop profits for years.  Here’s how to avoid that scenario, and to make sure that any equipment you buy is helping you sell services that are in the best interest of the customer.


Build a Realistic Forecast

Unsurprisingly, the marketing materials explaining the benefits of a new piece of equipment are often based on optimistic scenarios.  If possible, it’s best to use data from your own shop to build a more realistic one.

If you’re evaluating a piece of equipment that will allow you to sell a new service, collect data on the number of vehicles that could benefit significantly from that service.  Crucially, once you have that number, make sure to ask how many of those customers would have purchased the service if given a solid explanation of how they would benefit.

If you’re evaluating a piece of equipment that will reduce the amount of time required to complete a job, make sure to document the number of times that specific repair delayed your ability to fix other cars.  A faster turnaround time can lead to higher customer retention – but the easiest way to justify a time-saving repair is by being able to handle more vehicles each day.

Build a Solid Sales Pitch

For good reason, many shop owners cringe when they hear “sales pitch.”  That’s because the goal of an honest shop isn’t to upsell the customer, it’s to help them make the best decision for them and their vehicle.  Ironically this “customer first” mentality is precisely why you need to build a solid sales pitch before you can justify purchasing any equipment that will help you add a new service.

Forget all of the features that come with that new A/C machine, alignment machine or wheel balancer.  What’s the benefit for the customer?  Will it make their tires last twice as long?  Will it improve their fuel efficiency, or make their vehicle safer?  If you can’t explain the benefits of the product in a sentence or two that will resonate with most of your customers, you’re going to find yourself with a very expensive piece of equipment that doesn’t get used very much.  And that’s exactly how some shops get squeezed into making the ‘hard sell’ pitch that makes honest shop owners cringe.

Earn the Business

Some equipment can provide a new customer base for your shop, or increase the services you can provide to existing customers.  Other equipment will allow you to see more vehicles.  In either case, you’ll likely need to adjust your shop’s marketing messaging.

If the new equipment mostly helps existing customers, you’ll need to incorporate it into your diagnostic  processes.  Make sure that each shop technician is aware of why you purchased the machine (how it can help the customer) and what specific scenarios to look for.  Make sure the service writer knows how to describe the benefit to the customer.

If the new equipment allows you to perform new services, make sure that service is on your website. It will take several months to climb the rankings of Google and search well for the service, so you want the website content up as early as you can get it up.  You may also want to put coupons on your website to encourage people to try out the new service.

If the equipment allows you to service more vehicles, you may need to boost your marketing budget temporarily, to provide the increased number of vehicles you can now handle.  Make sure to tell your best customers that you’re looking for new customers, and to find creative ways to thank customers that refer you to their friends, family and neighbors.  While this is always important, it’s especially important when you’re trying to grow your business.

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


Monday, August 19, 2019

It’s expensive to gain a customer.  That’s because other shops want those customers, too.  In fact, big shops and franchises spend tons of money advertising to get new customers – sending coupons or mailers to their houses, buying Google ads, and in some cases even buying TV or radio commercials.

They do all of this knowing they’ll never make that money back when a customer stops by for an oil change or a brake replacement.  They’re doing it because they’re hoping that the customer keeps visiting them for years.

After the first visit, the big franchise shops and dealerships also spend heavily to keep them coming back.  They might give them a rewards card or a coupon book.  They might collect their email and address so they can mail them even more discounts.

None of this early business is profitable.  These shops are spending tremendous amounts of money to build a habit.  They want the customer to passively return to the shop without considering the alternatives.  Once the customer starts visiting the shop by habit, the business becomes profitable.

Great Customer Service is the Best Business Hack in the World

Most independent shops don’t have enough money laying around to buy business like this.  Fortunately, if you’re doing a great job at the front desk, you don’t need to.  If you’re just opening the shop, you might need to work hard to get your first customers in the door, but once they’re there it’s not hard to provide service that far exceeds expectations.  Pay attention to the customer when you’re on the phone with them.  Give your service advisor the tools they need to work with the customer.  Patiently explain problems to customers, and give them options to get their vehicle back on the road.


When customers feel like you provided honest service and took their needs and requests into account, they won’t need a coupon book mailed to them to remember which shop they visited last.  If you go out of your way to help them get to a meeting on time, or if you tell them they have a problem but it doesn’t need to be fixed immediately, they’ll remember that you looked out for them.  They’ll turn into loyal customers that follow advice without questioning the price – in short, they’ll turn into your most profitable customers.

Unlike the customers who are lured in with repeated coupons and radio ads, these customers also won’t be coming to you out of habit.  They won’t be passive customers – they will be active ones.  That means you can rely on them for referrals and online reviews, especially if you ask them for the favor.  Both of these things will bring you new customers, but they don’t cost a dime.  All you have to do is to keep knocking customer service out of the park.

Don’t get complacent!

It’s easy to focus on customers when you don’t have many of them.  It gets a lot harder when your shop is full of vehicles and the weekend is nearing.  You’ve still got to make sure your service is top notch – even phone calls with customers you don’t have the time to help.

A great reputation can be destroyed even more quickly than it was created.  An unfriendly response from your business can turn into a one-star review whether you perform work on the person’s vehicle or not.  Negative word-of-mouth and poor reviews will have immediate impacts.  The car count will start dropping but the bills will keep coming. If this happens, all of those expensive ads might start looking like the only way out.  It much cheaper to keep the focus on customer service, even if it reduces the number of customers you can serve!

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


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Searching well on Google is one of the most cost-effective ways for auto repair shops to earn business, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Click here for three ways to earn business while you’re waiting for your new website to “take hold” and generate results.

 

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