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Repair Shop Advice


Friday, June 22, 2018

Your waiting room is the public face of your shop.  Just as the condition of your shop floor indicates how much you care about your mechanics or the vehicles you service, the condition of your waiting room indicates how much you care about your customers.  And you always want to care more about your customers than their vehicles.

This might seem counter-intuitive – you probably spend a lot of time talking about fixing customers’ cars, and very little about fixing their lives. But as a service provider, an auto repair shop’s most important job is to improve the customer’s life – it just so happens that maintaining and repairing cars is a huge part of how shops improve lives.

If you don’t believe this, answer this question.  Which shop is going to earn a better review: the one who is rude and demeaning to the customer but fixes the vehicle, or the one who makes a mistake on the repair but apologizes profusely and goes way out of the their way to make the customer happy?  The second one wins every time.


Your waiting area is going to be the environment customers are in when you ask them for a review and send them a link to their email or smartphone to complete.  What can you provide in that environment that will really help you stand out from the rest of the independent auto repair shops in the area?  Here are three ideas:

Food or drinks through a local business partnership

If you have a local bakery or sweet shop nearby, offer their snacks in your waiting area.  If you have a coffee or tea shop nearby, offer their blends in a hot drink area stocked with cream, sugar, and a nice coffee or teapot.  The business providing the snacks will likely appreciate the opportunity to advertise their goods as much as they enjoy your business, and you may be able to negotiate a significant discount for daily deliveries.  Customers will be surprised to find high-quality snacks in the waiting room.

A comfortable place to get some work done

Most auto repair shop waiting rooms have a TV, some chairs, and maybe some magazines.  But these days, most people are going to be glued to a screen of their own while they’re in your waiting room – either their laptop or their cell phone.  What they really need to do is to get some work done in a comfortable environment.  If you can provide comfortable, wide seats, WiFi access, and an environment that isn’t excessively loud, you’ll earn more goodwill than the best cable package or magazine subscriptions could ever get you.

Great Communication

Inside every waiting area is a service writer – the person responsible for the customer relationship.  That person needs, at a minimum, the same level of customer service skills as you’d expect from a waiter at a nice restaurant.  They should focus on the customer when talking with them.  They should get an understanding of what the customer wants – the services to be performed, and the expected timeline – and quickly let the customer know if anything is going to impact the shop’s ability to meet those needs, even if it’s just an extra 10 minutes.  They should also be able to determine whether the customer wants something or is content being left alone, and interact with them accordingly.

If this seems easy, it isn’t – especially at a busy shop.  In addition to taking care of customers in the lobby, a service writer is also taking phone calls, relaying information from technicians to customers, scheduling part deliveries, and handling whoever comes through the front door.  A service writer that can juggle all of this while convincing customers that they truly care about their experience is a very talented one, indeed.

Does Your Shop Pass the Test?

Of course, it’s difficult to be price competitive and offer every possible waiting room perk.  The main question is, when your customer receives that request for a review while you’re handing back their keys, and they’re still in your waiting area, does anything they’ve experienced prompt them to leave an especially positive review?  If so, you’re waiting room has accomplished its objective – improving the customer experience!

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


Friday, June 15, 2018

It takes hard work to run an auto repair shop. While you’re focused on getting cars in and out of the shop, other major issues can drag you down. Here are three of them, along with suggestions on how to deal with them. 


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Many of our customers (and millions of other people) have recently been getting “domain renewal” letters asking them to switch providers. If you don’t read the letter carefully, you might think you’re simply renewing your domain.  They offer prices for a one-year or multi-year renewal, and reference the domain you already own.  It seems to be a simple enough process to renew your domain for up to five years.

Don’t do it!


First of all, if you’re a customer of Repair Shop Websites, and you didn’t choose to supply your own domain, we take care of your domain registration and there’s no charge for it beyond your quarterly service charge.  We know this isn’t something you want to deal with, so we make sure you don’t have to deal with it.  We certainly don’t want you to pay for something you’re already getting from us, and if you give them your credit card, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing!

Even if you take care of your own domain registration, you probably don’t want to do business with anyone this shady.  Even though some of these letters make clear it’s not a bill in the text, it’s clearly designed to make you think you’re a customer, and it’s confused many of our customers.  Honest registrars don’t need to send out millions of confusing letters and hope that enough people fall for it to make it worth their effort.

If for some reason you do own a domain and you want to change registrars, it’s probably best to go with one of the major players, which now includes Google.  While these companies do have slightly different pricing structures and services, they’re very similar because it’s an incredibly competitive industry.  If you’re a Repair Shop Websites customer and have any questions about any letters, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!

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


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Repair Shop Websites has recently completed its survey of more than 200 independent repair shops across the United States, and we can announce that shops are prioritizing online-related marketing activities in their budgets, and that they remain happy with the return on investment of these activities. The survey was conducted over April and May of 2018, and focused on the marketing activities undertaken by independent shops, the financial impact of those activities, and how they plan to adjust their spending for marketing activities in the coming years.

Shops were asked to rank how much they spend on each of seven categories of marketing, with 1 being the highest and 7 being the lowest.  Online related activities, such as website development, online review platforms and online advertising was by far ranked the highest expense among respondents.  Email platforms and social media activities ranked second, and all other non-online activities were ranked behind these two.


In terms of satisfaction, 60% of respondents report being very happy or mostly happy with their return on investment for activities in the Online Search category.  Ninety-four percent of respondents used some form of online search marketing for their repair shop, even if that was just a one-page website.  Only six percent reported being unhappy with their return on investment for those activities, with a further six percent claiming they don’t use online marketing at all.


It’s been two years since VistaPrint commissioned a study which found that nearly half of the public wouldn’t do business with a company that had a badly designed website, including 95% of Millennials.  An online presence that checks the basic boxes (such as the shop’s location, the services provided and usability on a mobile device) has become an essential part of attracting new customers.  While it’s still easy to spend too much on Google Ads or custom design services, great organic search results are extremely valuable for any shop who needs to increase their car count, and there’s no better way to do that than having a great website.

The National Independent Automotive Repair Shop Marketing Survey covers many more topics, including most commonly marketed services, differentiators used in marketing, and seasonal marketing trends. Stay tuned as we release more information on how independent repair shops market their services!

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can provide a powerful and affordable way to attract new customers to your shop, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

As much as people complain about differences in the values held by each generation, in reality it has more to do with their age.  As generations grow older, they find themselves interested in the same things as their parents were – for millennials, this means leaving the big city and moving to the suburbs, where they can raise a family.  (And if they didn’t already, they’ll need a car to get around, too.)

Even though generations end up valuing the same things, however, they don’t live life in the same ways.  Most importantly for shops, generations don’t consume information in the same ways.  You can’t market to people unless you can reach them – here’s how to reach each generation needing auto repair.


Baby Boomers

People born in the mid-40s to the mid-60s made it all the way through college without having to use a computer.  They were advanced in their career before the internet or smartphones were required to be successful.  As a result, most baby boomers don’t rely primarily on the internet for their information.  Boomers are more likely to prefer to communicate via phone or email rather than text messaging or social media.  They respond to traditional media such as mailers and television or radio ads, and respond well to discounts.  Internet advertising is less effective for most boomers.

Generation X

Generation X are those born from the mid-60s to the early 80s.  This generation was exposed to technology earlier in their careers, but spent more of their formative years without the internet, which wasn’t widely available until the late 90s.

The good news is that this group can be reached either through new or traditional media – although internet advertising is more efficient, they also watch TV and respond to mailers.  The bad news is that this group was exposed to so much marketing during their lives that they became very cynical and distrusting of it.  The more “sales-y” your marketing is, the less effective it will be.

Millennials

Millennials were born from the early 80s to the early 2000s.  Many of them have never known a time when the internet wasn’t their primary source of information and entertainment.  Most have been using social media since they were old enough to drive, and they use it regularly.  Traditional media is mostly ineffective for this group, because they don’t use it – even if they watch TV shows, they’re more likely to stream them over the internet than to tune in when the show first airs.

Like all generations when they were young, they are also more idealistic than older people.  They want to support responsible businesses who help their employees and contribute to their community.  They won’t do business with people they think are uncaring of their employees or their community, even if it will save them money.  To attract Millennials, be honest, be positive, and most of all, you need to be marketing your services online.

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

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