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Repair Shop Advice


Friday, February 14, 2020

Type “customer loyalty” into Google, and you’ll get ads for companies trying to sell you loyalty programs.  Below that is a featured snippet from the book The Intuitive Customer which defines customer loyalty as a “result of a consistently positive emotional experience”.

When you really think about it, though, can a loyalty program inspire an emotional response?  Who really goes to Starbucks, downloads their customer loyalty app, and feels an emotional connection when they earn their five stars for a Venti coffee?  (Only twenty more to go for a free vanilla syrup upgrade.)


The reality is that customer loyalty isn’t a present/absent attribute.  There are four different levels of loyalty: Best Option Loyalty, Habit-Based Loyalty, Conscious Loyalty, and Identity Loyalty.  If you’re using a card-punch or points-based program to earn customer loyalty, it’s never going to get you past Level 2, and generally won’t even get you there.  Here’s what each level looks like.

Level 1: Best Option Loyalty
Customers who reach this level of loyalty visit your auto repair shop because they think you’re the best option at the time.  In most cases, it’s because your shop is nearby and they know that you did a good job the last time they brought their vehicle in.  It might also be because they’ve got a coupon book from your shop in their car, or they remember a discount you sent them that they can pull up on their smartphone.

This may seem like a weak form of loyalty – and it is.  People’s loyalty to most companies they regularly visit never gets past this level, however.  They’ll keep bringing their vehicles into your shop until they notice a good reason to walk away.  That could be a big discount at a competitor, a strong referral to another shop, or an annoying experience at your shop.  That might take years – or it might happen tomorrow.

Level 2: Habit-Based Loyalty
If a customer comes to your shop enough times, it will become a habit.  The average person makes thousands of decisions per day – several per minute.  It’s exhausting, which is why most decisions aren’t conscious.  Most decisions are based on habit – when you decide to set your alarm clock, you set it for the same time every morning unless you have a good reason to change it.  And if people visit your shop enough times, they’ll keep coming to your shop unless they have a good reason to stop doing it.

At this point, a $10 off coupon from a competitor, or a minor annoyance during a visit to your shop, isn’t going to get them to change their behavior.  Changing shops requires too much effort.  Is the other shop rated well?  Where is it?  Is a ride available to work?  Is there a restaurant nearby for food while waiting?  Going to the trouble of figuring all of this out will require an emotional reason.

They will still change shops if they have an emotional reason to do so, however.  They’ll also do it if they decide that their habit no longer makes sense – for instance, if they move or change jobs, and your shop isn’t convenient anymore.

Level 3: Conscious Loyalty
To reach this level, customers have to feel like you’ve done something for them that is far outside of the norm for your industry.  Unlike lower levels of loyalty, this is an emotional connection – “I go to a shop because they’re the only one that does X for their customers” is generally an emotional statement.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything expensive either.  It could be a simple gesture like adding a free service to an expensive bill after they’ve already agreed to pay for it.  Even a hand-written thank you note is surprising these days.

Ironically, this loyalty is often created out of the ashes of a bad experience.  When customers complain about the quality of service they receive, they expect some acknowledgement of the response (and some unethical customers take advantage of this fact).  But they don’t expect compassion – in a world full of publicly traded companies and 1-800 customer service lines, it’s just not common anymore.

At small businesses, however, customers often experience something unexpected when they get bad service.  A manager or owner admits the error, owns responsibility for it, apologizes, and makes a generous offer to make up for it.  At this point, a mixture of surprise at the response and guilt for making  a big deal out of it can lead the customer to want to repay the kindness.

Level 4: Identity Loyalty
Most people only have a couple of brands in their lives that form a part of their identity.  Vehicles are actually one of the few items where it’s common for customers to identify with a brand.  Most people who drive Harleys or Corvettes don’t do it because it was cheaper or had a better warranty than competing products.  They do it because they think the vehicle represents them personally.

Once customers reach this level, it takes a tremendous level of effort to get them to change products.  In fact, the only way they’ll change brands is if the product or service lets them down in a very substantial way or challenges some other aspect of their identity.  That’s because using a different product requires more than changing a product – it requires changing who they are and how they see themselves.  Most brands have to invest a tremendous amount of money and effort to ever have a chance at earning customers with Identity Loyalty, which is why most small businesses don’t have any customers who reach this level.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring new customers into your shop, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com


Friday, January 31, 2020

By now you’ve probably heard about Google My Business and hopefully have set up and/or claimed the Google My Business profile for your auto repair shop. If you haven’t, or if you are letting somebody else manage it for you, please read on for some very important words of warning.

First, if you are unfamiliar with Google My Business, it is the big box that shows up on the right hand section of Google Results when you search for a business by name. As an example, Repair Shop Websites’ Google My Business profile is below.

This information serves as your online identity for anyone searching Google for your business name.  It has your business address, hours, and phone number, a link to your website, your Google Reviews, and a button to get directions to your business.  If someone types your name into Google, they’re probably expecting to see this information pop up on the right side of their screen. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a Google My Business profile, they probably aren’t going to see it.

Having a completed Google My Business (GMB) profile also makes you more likely to show up for any searches related to auto repair.  When an owner reaches out to Google and claims their Google My Business (GMB) profile, it gives Google more confidence about the information being provided for that business.  When an owner puts shop hours into their GMB profile, Google knows if that shop is open when someone who needs auto help right away.  When an owner puts the business’s current address into GMB, Google knows it isn’t going to accidentally send a Google user to that business’s old address, or an address that’s floating around online for the shop but is incorrect.

Simply put, if you don’t have a Google My Business profile, spending 15 minutes completing it will help you search far better than you currently do over time.  That’s why we reach out to every one of our customers and try to help them build or claim their Google My Business profile.  It’s the easiest way to improve your online presence, and we want to make sure our customers are taking advantage of it.

Unfortunately, GMB can hurt you, too.  If you don’t reach out to Google and claim your GMB profile, anyone can add your business to GMB or make edits to the information Google has about your business.  If Google doesn’t know very much about you, they’re only too happy to take information from strangers on where you are located, what you do, how to contact you, and when you’re open.

This means someone could request an edit and change your hours to “Closed” on Tuesdays.  They could change your phone number to a competitor’s phone number.  They can even change your website to somewhere unsafe, such as a phishing or ransomware website.  All of this can do some serious damage to your business.

This is where the other important part of Google My Business comes in.  Don’t let anyone walk away with your online identity.  If an employee has your GMB login information, make sure you get that information from them.  Whenever you cancel services with a vendor who manages your GMB profile, make sure you still have access to your profile.  Losing your Google My Business login is a lot like losing your real identity. You won’t be in control of the information online about your shop, and that information is likely to become less accurate over time.

There’s one other reason to keep up with this login.  If you can’t locate it but need to update something on your profile, you may have to request that Google “reset” your profile so you can gain access.  If you ever do need to do this, there’s a good chance Google will delete all of the information about the “old” business at that location.  Google wants to make sure that a person starting a new business isn’t earning credit (or blame) associated with the last business at that address.  That means that all of your shop information, pictures, and even reviews – all things that help you search well – are subject to deletion, and you’ll be starting from scratch again.  If you’ve accumulated dozens of great reviews, this is a disaster you shouldn’t have to experience.

To learn about how Repair Shop Websites can help you manage your Google My Business profile, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Have you ever noticed that companies love to claim that their customer service is great?  One reason is that it’s not quantifiable.  Unlike claiming to be the cheapest, fastest or most experienced, it’s hard to point to a competitor’s quote and say ‘that’s a lie’.  Even Wells Fargo, who has been fined more than $17 billion since 2000 for various forms of customer fraud, has a section on their website about “Serving Customers and Communities”.


Another reason businesses try so hard to claim great service is that it’s a major draw for the best customers.  Fifty-seven percent of people said they’d pay more for great customer service according to a 2019 study, and 73% said they’d be more likely to be a repeat customer.  Most customers also indicated they’d buy more services from employees they find friendlier.

Consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers quantified the financial value of great customer service in a study one year earlier.   According to this study, consumers pay 16% more for great service on average.  Sixteen percent sounds like a pretty good boost, but when you consider that it might not cost anything at all to improve your service, it becomes a tremendously valuable sum of money.  A 16% higher price may even double your profit margins.

Here are a few ways you can improve your customer service and capture that added revenue.

  • Improve your customer interactions over the phone – many customers interact with your shop for the first time over the phone, and those first few seconds determine how likely they are to choose your shop.
  • Focus on the customer, not the car – it’s easy to think of yourself as fixing cars. But if repairs are unexpected, you’re helping the customer navigate a newly hectic schedule.  Figure out what the customer needs most, not the vehicle – and try to find a way to provide it.
  • Educate and empower customers – going out of your way to show customers what’s wrong with their vehicle makes many of them more comfortable with paying what it costs to have it repaired.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your auto repair shop earn most customers and make those customers more profitable, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Responding to online reviews isn’t just customer communication; it’s high-visibility marketing. An easy way for people to learn how your shop treats customers is by reading the responses to the shop’s online reviews. Click here to learn how how to use your review responses to make you look great.


Monday, December 30, 2019

It’s been an eventful year in the automotive world, but the big story hasn’t changed for independent automotive repair shops.  Successful shops understand their customers, understand their community, and understand how to run a profitable business.  Our most popular infographics of the year reflect the reality that auto repair shop owners are trying to better understand all three.  Here are our most popular infographics of 2019!


Five Steps to Becoming Known For Auto Repair In Your Community

When you open a new shop, it can take years for locals to think of you when they hear the words auto repair. But there are steps you can take to increase your visibility and memorability, which will speed this process up considerably. This infographic provides five of the most effective techniques to become known more quickly.

Boosting Customer Confidence

Most people don’t know enough about cars to know the difference between a great repair job and a subpar one.  Unfortunately, a large part of a customer’s perception of the quality your shop provides comes down to their confidence in your knowledge and professionalism.

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. Learn how to maintain the appearance of an experienced, high-caliber shop by reading this infographic.

2019 Automotive Repair Shop Customer Survey: Key Findings

We surveyed 600 auto repair shop customers to learn how they choose what shop to go to and what keeps them coming back.  This infographic covers the most important findings of our research.  The most exciting part of this research is that customers of independent auto repair shops are happier with their shops than customers of franchises or dealerships!

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

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