What Makes a Loyal Customer

In the auto repair industry, building a loyal customer base means having return clients that will require constant maintenance. However, the benefits of having loyal, engaged, and convinced customers is beyond the individual. In fact, their entire impact on your success can be hard to measure.

Aside from the business from loyal customers, these customers can also become organic advocates for your business. They can post reviews online recommending your business, mention you to friends or family, and become free, but very powerful word-of-mouth marketers. 

So how can you create this kind of customer that can bring in so much value and business to your repair shop? On this list, we look at the different ways you can “make” a loyal customer out of every new one that walks in your door.

Keep in Touch

This is high up on this list because many car shop owners tend to just let customers go once the service has been rendered and payments have been settled. At this point in time, auto repair shops should treat the contact information they collect from clients like gold. 

Try to keep in touch by:

  1. Checking in after 3-5 days since the service just to make sure everything is doing well.
  2. Enrolling them to an e-mailing list where you can send newsletters, car care tips, special offers, etc. twice or thrice a month.
  3. You can also invite them to like your social media pages where you post updates twice or thrice a week.

Aside from showing customers you care, the above activities can really maintain a level of brand awareness that lasts. 

A customer might just check-in for a diagnostic test once but by reaching out and giving them important information (that is never obtrusive!), they will be able to remember your name.

Always be respectful in these interactions. Don’t force customers to respond and don’t message them too often. Also, ask for their consent when using their information for marketing materials and give them a quick option to opt-out of the messages such as installing a small unsubscribe link in your e-mails.

Show Impactful Honesty

Unfortunately, auto repair shops are on the receiving end of a lot of skepticism and mistrust. So the best way for you to counter this is to make it a point to show your shop’s honesty.

On the previous post on our blog here, we suggested creating an honesty statement or policy. This can be displayed at your car shop or in a place of pride that customers can readily see. 

This is a great way to be upfront about your serious commitment to providing honest service. 

Another thing you can do is to demonstrate your honesty by giving them all their options, even those that might make them spend less on your business.

Especially during these uncertain times, money can be quite a challenge. By sincerely offering customs options that will save them money, they will know you are on their side and you will make it hard to forget your business. 

Also, avoid talking negatively about the car repair industry. Trying to destroy the reputation of other car shops is just welcoming negativity in your conversation. As an alternative, focus on the things you are doing differently to ensure honesty is a top policy at your establishment.

Rewards Program

Rewarding customers that repeatedly avail of services (such as 20% off on you next visit) or those that bring in new business will definitely strengthen brand loyalty. These “treats” can really boost the positive experience of clients. 

And if the new clientele experience great service and you follow all the advice on this list, you can be unlocking another batch of referrals. Eventually, the ball will just keep rolling for your business.

Participate in the Community 

One thing many small businesses like auto repair shops miss is their opportunity to become such an important part of their community. Simple gestures like hosting a workshop or small events can be a great way to meet people, build a positive image, and leave a mark in the community. 

Of course, there are many considerations (like budget, effort, and even post-pandemic safety) for these kinds of events but let this be a starting point for other ideas on how your auto repair shop can help your community. 

Innovate

To look at millennial behavior is a great way to find ways to improve your business. After all, they have already outpaced the boomers in the number of licensed drivers worldwide. 

And as millennials grew up along with rapid technological innovations, they expect the same tech-savvy quality from your business.

Technology attracts customers, builds trust and it lets them know their provider is using the best of what’s available. They can also reap amazing benefits for businesses. 

At AI Parts, we create technology that safeguards your businesses from low-quality parts and suppliers, incompatibility issues, and other risks associated with aftermarket parts sourcing. Our auto repair shop software uses artificial intelligence to collect data from experts, the community, and other sources to direct you to the best, most compatible car parts for clients. It can also flag errors before they even happen.

Techpro exists in the same platform as Everdrive which car owners can use for preventive maintenance and lets your clients know when a part is about to breakdown and a trip to a mechanic is in order.

The vision is that all these technologies work together to automate the car maintenance experience of car owners as well as maintenance providers. 

So there you have it, FIVE awesome ways your business can build a loyal following.

And as mentioned in the first paragraph, loyal customers that return to your shop impact your business not just through their spending at every visit.

The word-of-mouth marketing they do, the brand loyalty they show online through posts, and even the morale boost of your business from having such a faithful following is difficult to price. Two things, however, are for sure: the impact of a loyal customer base is MASSIVE and your business should enjoy all of it. 

Managing Inventory in an Auto Repair Shop

Inventory in a car shop is an important part of the business. It affects how capital is managed, the operations, and even the quality of the services a car shop is able to provide.

Good inventory management should show how suited your inventory is to the demand of your customers, the quality of the parts kept in the store, as well as minimizing stagnant inventory. It should also support high-efficiency operations.

In this post, we look at top ways to improve inventory management in an auto repair shop. These steps are easy to follow, will require more effort than money to implement, and it should lead to results for your business. 


Create a System

It can be quite tempting to just let inventory take care of itself. Once supply is delivered, it will eventually be consumed, right? While this may seem reasonable when starting out, this process can also be easily outgrown.

One of your top priorities should be to create a system or guidelines to follow. Don’t forget to include:

  1. Checking all deliveries to make sure they match the delivery receipts. Suppliers can make mistakes so spotting it early on just makes everything easier. Check that the right supplies arrive in the right quantity. 
  2. Create designated storage locations for everything. This keeps re-stocking and the use of existing supply easy. And if customers can see a neat inventory, they’d definitely appreciate it. It’s reassuring to see the car parts they are purchasing appear taken care of, instead of being snatched out of an unkempt pile. In a highly competitive business, these things matter.  
  3. Always record movement. Implement a way of recording the movement of inventory. This can be as simple as a manual logbook but automated systems should be easy to implement even in smaller shops. With a robust recording system, the missing stock will be very easy to trace back and a logbook is great to check how things are moving along. 
  4. Back-up your information, always. Find a way to make sure you preserve a record of your inventory, especially when doing it through a computer. Using cloud-based software (like Google Drive) versus using local files makes sure you get to keep your records even if your computer breaks or go missing. This will save you the headache and there are some free options available out there.
  5. Schedule a periodic check. Once-a-month or whatever is best for you, go through all your inventory and make sure everything is accounted for. Also, check your areas for improvement. Now that you have a system for inventory, it should be possible for you to take a step back and look at the big picture which will help identify weak areas in your strategy and make changes right away. 

Remember, inventory management is a marathon not a sprint so making a process that is sustainable is important. Don’t overcomplicate it but keep the discipline to stick to the process. 

ABC Analysis

For many auto repair shops, having so many different items on stock means being able to service more customer needs on-the-spot. This also means a growing inventory that can be very challenging to manage. This is where ABC analysis can help.

ABC analysis is a tried and tested inventory assessment method and it simplifies how you react to restocking and managing your in-store supply. You can start doing this by separating your inventory into the following categories: 

CATEGORY A: Items that are in very high demand and may be critical to your business (for example: engine oils, filters, etc). This usually makes up to 20% of your entire inventory but up to 70% of sales.

CATEGORY B: Items that are in demand but not as important in group A. These are mid-range items that also add value to your business but not just in the previous category’s level (for example: windshield wipers, headlight replacement bulbs). 

CATEGORY C: Items here are marginally important. These are nice-to-haves but may have minimal demand and impact to your business. 

Once you’ve categorized your entire inventory into the above, it will be easier to create an overall strategy instead of doing it per item.

For example, you can make a rule to have at least two weeks’ worth of stock for items in Category A at all times and just down to a week for items in Category B. 

If you want to improve your buying strategy, you can also focus on Group A to unlock the biggest benefits for your business.

Obviously, there are limits to this system. One: it can oversimplify how your entire inventory works. While ABC Analysis is simple to do, it might not really take into account the complexities of your business and your relationship with your customers. 

Another thing is that it isn’t as reactive. By basing off historical data and being quite simple, it has minimal applications in predicting demand or spotting any changes in demand you might need to respond to (for example, a spike in demand for all-season tires after a regulatory change). 

Use Technology

Here at AI Parts, we are building one platform to help you manage your inventory particularly your process of sourcing auto parts.

TechPro taps into the expertise of mechanics and uses AI to create a system that will help auto repair shops choose the best supplier and the best car parts on the market in terms of quality, reliability, compatibility, and value. By being open to using this kind of technology, your auto repair shop can minimize purchasing headaches from unreliable suppliers. 

So there you have it. Inventory management is one of those necessary business processes where success will be determined by strategy and the discipline to follow-through with the process over a long period of time.

If you have strong inventory management, you don’t only take care of the assets of your business, you are also making it more comfortable and safe to increase your auto repair shop’s working capital.