Friday, October 20, 2023
The short answer is yes, but there’s more to it than just posting a quick response.
That’s especially true if the review is negative. I’m writing this blog because we’ve seen a lot of unprofessional responses to negative reviews lately. Before you get mad at me for typing that, please understand that I know how frustrating it can be to see a negative review, especially when you’ve done everything you could to help a customer.
However, in those cases I would encourage you to consider that your response is for that potential customer who is checking your reviews to see if they want to bring their vehicle to your shop. If you respond to a negative review by tearing into the reviewer, that potential customer is likely to have a negative perception of your shop. If you respond professionally, they are going to see you as somebody who is customer focused and is willing to work through a disagreement or misunderstanding.
Before I get to the recommendations for how to respond to certain types of reviews, I want to briefly highlight why it’s so important to respond to reviews. In our blog from earlier in the year – The Power of Reviews: How They Impact Auto Repair Shop Decisions – we brought forth some of the data from BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2023. In that survey 88% of consumers said they would be likely to use a business that responds to all 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 can help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This can have the biggest impact on where your auto repair shop shows up in the Local Pack (the list of 3-4 businesses that appears just below or next to the map in a results page from Google) when somebody searches for that service in your area and it can also help your website search better as long as it is linked to your Google My Business profile.
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.
If you catch yourself in the process of typing out an emotional, angry response, go ahead and type it all out somewhere to get it out of your system. Don’t submit the review! Let it set there for at least 24 hours. If you go back to it after that period of time and still want to post it, let it sit for an additional 24 hours. After you look at it again, please delete it and think about what that potential customer who sees the review will want to see that shows you can handle these things professionally. I know it’s hard but your business will be better off if you respond professionally.
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 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.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
There is a lot of confusion among auto repair shop owners about how consumers search for auto repair services on the web. Our goal in this blog is to clear up the confusion and help you understand how most consumers search for auto repair services so you can better understand how your website is performing in search.
This is a common misunderstanding. If you are in Raleigh, North Carolina, people are very rarely searching for “auto repair Raleigh”. Yet the first thing some advisors will do to see how your website is searching is type in “auto repair Raleigh” into their search bar.
Many years ago, geomodifying your search to include the city or town was necessary. Now, Google assumes every search for auto repair services is local and most searchers know that, so they just use “auto repair” or “auto repair near me” and Google automatically returns the results for shops in their area.
The same is true for “auto repair shop”, “bmw repair”, “car repair”, “brake repair” and all other auto repair related searches. These are all searches that are most often conducted without the modifier of a town or city by consumers in your area who are true potential customers.
It’s also important to note that a search in Chicago for “auto repair Raleigh” will not return the same results that somebody searching for “auto repair” in Raleigh will see. The most accurate way to determine what a potential customer will see if they are in Raleigh is to conduct the search in Raleigh or find a way to change your web browser’s location to make it seem like you are in Raleigh.
I’ve included an image of what the Local Pack is below. If you’d like more detailed information, please read our blog “What Is the Local Pack and Why Does It Matter for Auto Repair Shops?”.
Brightlocal conducted the best study of how people make their choices for local services in search results back in 2018. In that study they found that almost 33 percent of clicks go to the Local Pack. That means that roughly one out of every three people who are searching for auto repair services are going to contact at least one of the shops that shows up in the Local Pack.
That’s right – your website does not drive how your shop is represented in the Local Pack. Your Google Business Profile does.
How close your shop is to the person searching essentially has the biggest impact on where you show up in the Local Pack. That’s why you might appear in the #1 slot at a location close to your shop but not show up at all when you check from a McDonald’s across town.
Why does Google do it that way? Because their data shows that when people conduct local searches for local services they are looking for the shops that are closest to them.
Technically industry experts believe that the primary category of the Google Business Profile is the number one factor. However, primary categories are large and all of your competitors likely have Auto Repair Shop chosen just like you so there’s no way to differentiate your shop there.
With all of that being said, an important takeaway here is that there is not a lot you can do to influence where you show up in the Local Pack.
While you can’t control where you show up in the Local Pack, you definitely have some control over the number one factor for customers in choosing who to call – reviews.
According to the Whitespark 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors survey “High Numerical Google Ratings” is the number one factor for consumers when they are deciding what local businesses to contact. In fact, reviews are included as four of the top five factors. For more information, see our blog “How Google Reviews Win You Business”.
We’ve said it for years – be sure that you are consistently requesting reviews from happy customers!
The study from Brightlocal that I referenced earlier showed that more than 50% of clicks happened in the organic search results. The organic search results show up underneath the Local Pack on the search engine results page. See picture below.
Where you show up in the organic search results is determined by how well your website is optimized. So your website is responsible for your organic search results.
It is important to note that there are several factors involved in how well your website searches. One important one is time. If you have a new website or maybe you just switched from having a homemade website to using a professional company, you should allow for three to six months ramp up time before judging your results.
If you want to dive into the most important factors that the experts believe are responsible for how well your website searches, I encourage you to check out Whitespark’s 2023 Local Organic Ranking Factors.
The good news for you is that it’s not that hard to check how well your website is ranking in your city. Go to a few different locations in your city. Bring your laptop or mobile phone. Open up an incognito or private browser and search for “auto repair” or “auto repair near me”. Of course, you can repeat the process using whatever keywords are important to you. You should open a new incognito browser tab each time you conduct a new search
Remember, your website drives your organic results, so be sure to scroll down to the organic results to see where your website shows up. The Local Pack is determined by your Google Business Profile so that is not an accurate way to determine how well your website is performing.
If you are showing up on the first page for key search terms, that is really good. If you are showing up on the third page or below, you may want to look at making some adjustments to improve your results.
Want to see how your website is searching in neighboring towns? You can conduct the same test by going to those towns and running the searches.
If you have any questions about anything mentioned here, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Monday, August 21, 2023
Most of the repair shop owners we talk to either love the idea of allowing customers to schedule real appointments online…or they absolutely hate it. The resistance is understandable. It’s difficult to manage a shop’s schedule with cars, customers and techs coming and going.
Balancing what’s best for the shop and what’s best for employees alongside customer expectations is not easy and the idea of giving up all control of that can cause immediate anxiety for some shop owners and managers. However, if you are willing to consider it, an online scheduler can help you in three major ways – it can make your shop more efficient, increase your car count and make your life easier. In this blog, we are going to dive into the details of how an online scheduler can do that.
Consider how your shop currently operates without an online scheduler. How much time do you or somebody in your shop spend going back and forth through email or on the phone with customers who have requested appointments through your website? Are you having to call customers to let them know that you can’t get them in at their requested time? Are you leaving voice mails and playing phone tag?
Let’s say you also work in the shop and your labor rate alone is $150 an hour. If you spend 10 hours going back and forth with customers like this instead of providing service, you could make $1,500 more by having the online scheduler. If it’s 20 hours, the number could be $3,000 more each month. That doesn’t count parts markups.
Let’s say it’s a service advisor that has to do all this work to connect with appointment requests. How much more could they increase your ARO if they had the 10 hours to talk to customers about needed services after a tech’s diagnosis instead of having to try to chase somebody down who requested an oil change on Friday when you don’t have a slot?
Or, what if you are paying an admin person just for the sake of dealing with appointment requests? Or more likely, you are trying to hire somebody for that role but can’t find a good candidate. An online scheduler could be your best candidate.
The other significant element of an online scheduler is integration with your shop management system. How much time are you or somebody else at your shop having to spend manually entering data in your shop management system after you finally are able to reach a customer and find a day and time that works? With the best online schedulers there is an integration with your shop management system that makes that automatic, saving you additional time.
Your customers love it when things are easy. With an online scheduler they can visit your website, know exactly what days and times you have available for the service they are requesting and set an appointment. They don’t have to call you. They don’t have to go back and forth with you to try to find a day and time that works. They can also access the online scheduler 24/7.
How many potential customers have you lost because you don’t make it easy for them to set an appointment? That’s a number you will probably never know but it could be high. These are people who got to your website and saw that they couldn’t set a direct appointment and left to set an appointment at another shop that made it easy for them. They didn’t want to call you. They didn’t want to wait until you were open. They didn’t just want to request an appointment that you would call them back to tell them they couldn’t have.
Consider Amazon – they have made it as easy as possible for people to order nearly anything. They’ve got one-click ordering. They’ve done the research and probably could say how much more they make with one click ordering versus even just two clicks. It’s a number that would probably blow our minds.
This is where many shop owners will say that they don’t want somebody setting an hour appointment for routine maintenance only to find that they need much more work done. However, this same exact thing can happen when a customer sets an appointment over the phone. So what’s the difference? Well the difference is that if they’ve used the scheduler you’ve saved time on the front end and they’ve felt like it was a much smoother experience.
When we highlighted shop efficiency earlier in the blog we mentioned how much more you could make during the time that the online scheduler would save you. But what if you would just like to have 10 to 20 more hours to yourself? You could spend that time with your kids or grandkids. You could put it toward other business interests. Or you could put it toward working on your business instead of having to spend so much time working in it. Or maybe you just want to be able to relax a little more after putting all your blood, sweat and tears into the business for 10, 20 or 50 years. The online scheduler can help you find that time.
Scheduling can be stressful. With a scheduler you can eliminate scheduling headaches and calls to customers telling them that you can’t fit them in at their preferred time. Using online scheduling can take these significant elements of stress right out of your life.
And here’s the great thing. A high-quality online scheduler is also going to give you control. You can determine when you want to allow appointments to be scheduled, even to the detail of specific services at specific times. If you only want two brake repair jobs scheduled each day and you only want them scheduled at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, the scheduler can be set up to do that.
So in reality you have almost as much control as you had when you were doing it all yourself except now you can set it and forget it and avoid the daily haggling and wasted time.
Change is rarely easy but utilizing an online scheduler at your shop can have a strong positive impact. It can help increase your shop’s efficiency by saving time that can help you make more money. It can increase your car count by making it easy for customers to choose you. It can make your life easier by freeing up your time and eliminating scheduling headaches.
Repair Shop Websites offers an Integrated Scheduler for our customers. If you are ready to simplify things for your customers, your employees and yourself with the Integrated Scheduler, contact us for more information today at 886-665-1605.
Friday, June 2, 2023
The four tactics are:
Please read on for all of the important information behind these suggestions! Or, skip to the tactics you specifically would like to read more about.
The always excellent Local Search Ranking Factors Report was recently released for 2023. It has a massive amount of incredibly helpful information. I’ll be breaking down some of the key highlights for auto repair shops with tips on what you need to do with the information over the next bunch of blogs.
Today we will focus on Local Search, which includes the Local Pack and Maps. If you are not sure what the Local Pack is, please see our previous blog – What Is the Local Pack and Why Does It Matter for Auto Repair Shops?.
Today’s topic is the factors that saw a significant increase in importance since the last report. For context, there are 149 factors.
This is a brand new factor that hadn’t been included in previous reports and it had a huge debut at number 13. By getting a consistent flow of Google reviews, you are demonstrating that your shop is active and that people are utilizing your business and caring enough about it to post reviews. This is a much better signal to Google than having bursts of reviews where you get 10 reviews within a couple days, get zero reviews for 3 months and then get 10 more reviews in a few days.
Who is responsible?
This is all you and your team. If you don’t ask for reviews you won’t get them. You may have great tools to help you get reviews, but if you don’t use them properly or consistently, you won’t get any.
What to do
Consistently ask happy customers to leave Google reviews for your shop. Set a goal – maybe to ask five happy customers for a review every week. Reward your team members for asking for reviews.
This factor shot up 26 spots from #40 two years ago to #14 this year. That’s the second highest increase among all factors.
This has been critically important for organic search for many years and now the experts are seeing it have an impact on Local Search. The key reason for that is because if you want your Google Business Profile to show up in the Local Pack for service-specific searches (like brake repair, alignments, transmission) Google wants to see that you are specifically highlighting those services on your website.
Who is responsible?
You and your website provider. Here’s why. You’ve got to make a good decision to choose a website provider that has the ability to highlight all your services on individual web pages at a price that you can afford. If you are cutting the number of service pages to stay under a certain number of pages on your website to keep the cost manageable, that’s most likely going to hurt you. It’s up to your website provider to create a page on your website for each service you offer.
What to do
Make sure you have a separate web page for each service or service category that you provide.
This factor saw the biggest increase, jumping from #75 to #21 and should not be underestimated. Google wants to show the best and most relevant businesses in the Local Pack and map when somebody searches for local services. What is a great way for them to judge which local auto repair shop is the best and most relevant? They check to see how many links the shop’s website has going to it from other important local websites.
Who is responsible?
Your website provider or marketing firm may be able to help you a little, but this one will likely rest on your shoulders.
What to do
First, read this blog if you haven’t already – Local Links – What They Are and Why They Are So Important. Next, create your list of potential local links you could get and get to work asking for them. A critical point comes from the blog:
“You don’t need a hundred of these. If you can get a dozen, or a couple dozen, it can push you past your competitors.”
This is the debut of this factor. Your Google Business Profile has a link to a web page. It is most likely the home page of your website. You want to have as many reasonable, quality links to that page on the other pages of your website as you can get.
Where this really comes into play is for auto repair shops that have multiple locations. In those cases the link on your Google Business Profile for each of your locations should go to the specific location page on your website. It’s important that you have plenty of links to each of those location pages from other pages throughout your site.
Who is responsible?
Your website provider.
What to do
If your Google Business Profile is linked to your home page you likely have plenty of links throughout your website to that page, but it doesn’t hurt to confirm and add more if needed. If you have multiple locations you are going to want to consider how to includes links to those location pages throughout your website. A great way to do that is by utilizing your service pages. On each service page you should include a link to each of your locations that provides that service.
These are the four factors that SEO experts saw as having the most increased importance for Local Search. By acting on these now you can likely get an advantage on your competition. Don’t try to do them all at once. Create a plan with due dates and start making progress one step at a time.
We can help! If you’d like a marketing partner that can help you perform well in local search, call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!
Thursday, April 27, 2023
As always, the speakers at ATI’s (Automotive Training Institute) 2023 SuperConference were outstanding. One of my favorite things about the event is the power-packed schedule with lots of learning opportunities from ATI coaches, ATI members and professional speakers. You don’t want to miss a single session because they all provide a great deal of value.
For this blog I’m going to highlight eight significant leadership lesson takeaways from the conference in no particular order because they are all too valuable to rank.
In today’s fast-paced world where everybody seems to be competing to show that they are busier than everybody else, it can be easy to forget how important relationships are. How much time do we spend scrolling on our phone when we could be taking the time to build a relationship with a customer, an employee or a family member?
It’s not the best businessperson, the smartest, the most skilled or the most creative that continually win, it’s the person who can build quality relationships.
This is a natural follow up to the first point. Trust is everything. Trust is built through relationships and doing what you say you are going to do. Every interaction you have with somebody is an opportunity to build trust or lose it. What can you do to make sure you are always building trust and being looked at as somebody who truly cares about your customers?
These two points from Walter Bond go hand in hand and say it all. Are you setting your goals high enough? Are you just aiming for average and achieving it? Are you prepared to set your next goal? Or are you just going to rest on achieving an average goal?
That is not to say you shouldn’t celebrate success, you absolutely should. But after celebrating you should start working toward the next goal.
Manley climbs cliffs for fun. He’s done amazing things in this pursuit. One of the key points he made is that you have to declare your current climb.
Like looking at a mountain with several potential paths to the top, considering all of the opportunities for your business, or just the things you have to deal with, can be daunting. But deciding which cliff you are going to climb or which problem you are going to focus on solving is key. After that you can start planning, stay focused and eliminate distractions.
You have to set priorities and then dedicate focused attention to them. I’ll have to take Manley’s word on the climbing part.
Are you encouraging and pushing your team to exceed what they think is possible? How many times have you heard the story of the sports team that nobody thought could be successful but because they started the season with a championship as their goal they were able to persevere and achieve it?
Helping team members reach their potential is a significant role that leaders play. People may not always achieve the big goals you set for them. However, if you expect them to perform poorly, they are almost always going to meet that expectation.
Ross had amazing stories of high performing players and teams throughout his two presentations. One of his key points in relation to teams was this one. And you see it time and time again in sports – it’s not the team with the best players that usually wins the championship it’s the team with the players that work the best together.
You can look at the most recent Super Bowl as evidence of this. Going into the game almost everybody would say that the Philadelphia Eagles had a more impressive roster of players than the Kansas City Chiefs. However, it was the Chiefs who prevailed and took home the trophy.
How do you apply this in your shop? Consider how you evaluate candidates for the jobs you have available. Do you only focus on skills? Or do you put more weight on things like attitude, motivation and fit with the rest of the team?
Leaders have to hold themselves to a higher standard. Every team member is watching every move you make. The words you say hold at least five times the weight of anybody else.
If you do something, everybody else is going to think it’s okay to do that. If you speak negatively to a customer then that becomes okay. If you say something rude to an employee then that becomes how people treat each other in the shop.
As hard as it may be, you have to show up as your best self every time you step into the shop. And you’ve got to step up and lead the way for your team.
This is a tough one for all of us. Like the strongest magnet, our comfort zone pulls us toward it. We seek comfort. We seek the familiar. It makes us feel good and it makes us feel safe.
As leaders we often have to play the role of pushing people outside their comfort zone for growth. But, how often do we push ourselves outside our own comfort zone?
What opportunities are you not pursuing for your business because they are outside your comfort zone? Are you limiting your growth potential? Are you missing the opportunity to make your business great because you hire the comfortable candidate instead of the best candidate?
Take the time to evaluate these types of questions so that you can commit to pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, and to do your part to achieve those high goals.
I can’t say enough about the value of attending ATI SuperConference. This was my second conference and the presentations and information were so valuable. I didn’t cover any of the great stuff that I heard in the presentations I sat in from ATI coaches or ATI members because I feel like that info should be considered a members-only benefit.
I encourage you to pick one or two of these leadership lessons and work toward applying them in your life.
Repair Shop Websites is delighted to be a Silver Partner of ATI.