There is a lot of advice going around online on how car shop owners can improve their customer’s experience. But a lot of them require a lot of time, effort, and investment to implement.
That’s why on this list, we focus on the simplest and cheapest things you can do.
During these uncertain times, a lot of businesses are struggling to cope with new realities. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people use and interact with their vehicles.
It will take time before everyone really figures out how the pandemic will affect businesses like auto repair shops and garages but many are highly optimistic.
With an already visible decline in car purchases, people are keeping their cars for longer thus requiring more maintenance.
But whatever the case may be, improving your car repair shop should be a year-long effort. And here, we help you with the simplest things you can do for your shop.
1. Be Upfront About Your Policy on Honesty!
Customers usually have a burning question in their head but they are too embarrassed to ask: am I being overcharged?
It’s a negative customer perception that, unless every car shop in your country shapes up, will be a hard one for you to change on your own.
The next best thing you can do is be upfront about your car shop’s policy on honesty.
You can do this by drafting a short statement that you can put on your wall, customer sign-up sheet, or even on your receipt.
Guarantee the quality of your service but more importantly, promise that you will make sure they don’t have to pay for something more than necessary… unless they want to.
It’s a simple acknowledgement that a stigma exists, and a strong message to your customers that their worries would not be a problem here.
Just be 100% ready to back to back-up your claims!
2. Guarantee Your Work!
Be upfront about offering guarantees and warranty periods for customers.
While this can be hard to put in writing on the walls just like in the previous tip, lead the conversation about guaranteeing the work when talking with a client. Don’t wait for them to ask for it.
This gives you an air of confidence about your workmanship and lets customers know you are willing to take the gamble of losing money on your own work.
But before you start sounding arrogant, make sure the customer also knows you are doing it out of care.
Offer it because you want to calm any worries the customer might have about the service they are availing from your shop.
After all, a well-managed auto shop has one goal: provide excellent, reliable, and efficient service to every customer.
3. Improve Mechanic Performance
A car garage isn’t built for relaxing but it shouldn’t be unpleasant to stay in either.
Visit the car garage and check if the mechanics have a clean, cool, and comfortable workspace. Add fans if needed. Check that they have quick access to drinking water and provide snacks every once in a while to thank them for their hard work. Make it a habit to say thank you.
People who are appreciated on the job and feel taken care of are known for performing well, especially in challenging jobs like this one. Providing them with a comfortable workspace, an avenue for them to raise issues, and acknowledging hard work are all important building blocks of a great team.
Another way you can improve mechanic performance is by investing in trainings. They don’t have to be about their jobs. You may have them trained on customer care, work safety, or effective team communications. These can give them new skills that will ultimately benefit your business.
4. Offer Deal and Promos
and make sure they are useful to customers. The best way you can do this is to check for the most common services customers avail of together and build packages.
Another old trick is to offer new customers a non-expiring discount on their next visit. This should be enough to bring them back once they need additional work done. You can also put non-obtrusive stickers on the dashboard that will help remind drivers when their next maintenance schedule could be at your car shop.
Another great idea is a simple referral program. For example, if someone brings a buddy for an oil change, they both get 50% off labor costs.
5. Provide Good Loyalty Rewards
Give customers a highly competitive reward system for being repeat customers of your shop. For example, a customer can get huge discounts on their fourth or fifth oil change or they can even be offered free services like tire rotation.
These show you appreciate loyalty with useful offers.
6. Start a Blog, a Social Media Page or a Newsletter
People appreciate sound car advice from experts. And as a car repair shop, that’s exactly what you are.
It’s easier now more than ever to build a Facebook page and manage it on your own. On there, you can post short advice for customers (you can do it once day), let customers follow you for shop updates, announce special offers, and you can even ask for reviews from your customers.
The best thing about having a Facebook page is that it’s very friendly with Google. Fill it with your exact details (address, phone numbers, etc) and you will be making your car shop faster to find.
Are online reviews important?
Absolutely. In one survey, 90% of consumers checked businesses online for reviews. This proof in the quality of service can be so convincing that it can help customers choose your shop over their other options. The more reviews you have, the more likely you will end up as a top result on Google search.
With a younger crowd expected to become the biggest customer base for car maintenance, some online presence is a must.
Newsletters can be a bit more challenging. You can start building it by collecting the e-mail addresses of your customers. Remember that e-mail gives you a more direct access to your customers so use it sparingly and wisely.
Newsletters that are sent once or twice a month are common. Despite the widespread use of social media, e-mail is still the best way to announce new products or deals.
7. Be Part of Your Community
A thing about car shops is that they often become landmarks in the community. Car shop owners should use this special advantage.
Let your car shop join events in your community. If you have the budget, you can even sponsor some community programs like sports teams or events.
You can also build relationships with community leaders, hold small events at your shop (like short seminars on DIY car care) and other stuff.
It also builds a network that can be HUUUUGE!
Neighbors can refer their siblings, cousins, uncles and other relatives to your shop. You’ll be the first on everyone’s list if any opportunity arrives. It’s just great practice for any local business to build a relationship with their community.
Bonus: Get smart with AI-powered inventory!
One of the best things about AI Parts is its ability to lead you to the right replacement parts for your vehicle.
A major pain point in this industry is the waiting time customers experience when a car part isn’t readily available or if they experience compatibility issues after they drive out of your shop.
The AI Parts’ Techpro dashboard does all the work for you. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, it consolidates the experience of other car shops, expert mechanics, and other data points to help you choose the most reliable and the greatest value spare parts brand and supplier on one simple and intuitive platform!
These are some very simple ideas to get you started on improving your car shop and many of them can be done quickly.
For example, setting up a Facebook page will barely take an hour and posting on it daily shouldn’t take 20 minutes of your day. Printing out an honesty statement shouldn’t be too hard either and making your garage more comfortable can be as simple as installing new fans or a water cooler.
As long as there are cars on the road, auto repair shops/car service shops will never run out of new customers to serve. To improve your business, the experience of your customers, and your shop’s performance, take a long hard look at this list, get excited, and get to work!