Thinking

Rhonda HiltbrandInvest a few moments in thinking. It will pay good interest. ~Author Unknown

There is usually a little sticker in the upper window of the driver’s side of a vehicle stating when a service has been completed … and when the next service should be performed.  It is generally based on mileage.

It is amazing to me that when a person takes their vehicle to a different shop than the one who performed the service that sticker represents…that the new shop just ignores it…and recommends those services even if they have just been performed.  When you point out that the service has just been performed…they stutter, they stammer, they shuffle…and at that moment all trust in that shop has gone down the drain.

As most of you know, I visit chains on occasion to see what your competition is up to.  This “ignoring of the sticker” has happened to me more than once when I have visited a chain.  As soon as it happens, I point it out and then tell them I’ll just wait until my usual shop is opened on Monday.  They are very embarrassed, as they should be, but I honestly didn’t set them up for the failure…they did it all by themselves.

They need to think before they recommend…it builds trust!  I’m sure you, as a seasoned service advisor, would never do this but if you are training someone new, point it out to them.  It just takes a moment to look at that small but significant sticker. In that moment trust can be built or destroyed forever.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


It Is Often “The Little Things” That Matter

Rhonda HiltbrandIntention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you. – Andy Andrews

I was attending a meeting with a group of auto repair shop owners when we got on the subject of the importance of doing the job right in order to build trust.  One of the shop owners remembered I had written about my flat tire experience on a very cold winter’s night…secure that my auto repair shop had my spare ready to go.  Sadly, my spare was completely flat!

The article generated a lot of feedback…like the shops can’t always get to the spare for the junk in the trunk, etc.  I assured them all that my trusty Jeep was clean inside and out and the tire was amazingly easy to get to.

I then shared other things that we expect when we bring our vehicle in for service.  It seems if you have a rear windshield wiper…many technicians overlook adding more fluid and it is very annoying to need the fluid and it isn’t there.  Nothing like a day full of pollen to make this very noticeable.

I recently had new headlights installed and now one shines upward and one shines downward. Hmmm…

Yes…little things matter and if done correctly…builds trust.  If one can trust one’s repair shop with the little things…we feel more confident about trusting them with the big jobs.

I’m sure this doesn’t apply to most of you, but perhaps if you have a new employee or apprentice, they might find this helpful!

Thanks!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Perfection is Highly Overrated!

Rhonda HiltbrandA man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. ~John Henry Newman

I have had to have a severe talk with myself lately.  When I get interrupted in my writing I have a hard time picking it back up with the same enthusiasm as when I started.  I have elderly parents and I get as many as six calls a day from them stating that there is an emergency, and I need to come over right away!  I stop what I am doing, grab the car keys and head out the door only to get a call back that says, “Don’t come.  It is okay now!”.  This is almost a daily occurrence.  It puts me right off my game!  This column, for example, is on its third rewrite.  I told myself today that I’m not perfect, therefore this column won’t be perfect, so just let it go!

I know a young man in marketing that is so terrified of sending out something that isn’t perfect that his company is hurting big time!  Once upon a time he was “red penciled” and “blue-lined” by a so called friend that set themselves up as an “expert” in spelling and grammar and he can’t move past it!  I keep telling him that his writing is excellent and you don’t have to use great big words to make a point!  He is just scared and won’t put anything on social media, or write a blog or communicate with his customers in any way except by telephone.  He outsources all of the marketing he does for his customers and because of this he doesn’t have many.

I read this great quote the other day and it helped me.  If you are procrastinating because you are afraid to be less than perfect…perhaps it will help you too!

Perfectionism causes people to shy away from opportunities, waste time on irrelevant details and aggravate colleagues.  Constantly ranking being perfect ahead of being human is a surefire way to limit yourself both professionally and personally.  ~K. Boogaard

We have such great customers but every now and then a brand new one gets too scared to move forward.  We have to help them take “baby steps” and once they take the plunge, they are so happy that they did because they get a lot of great comments and business increases immediately because of the piece they sent out. Don’t be afraid to “move forward” for fear of criticism.  Just do like I had to do today and realize that perfection is highly overrated!

The Less Than Perfect

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Be Excellent

Rhonda HiltbrandExcellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. ~Ralph Marston

All of us are working in a small business.  We each have a part to play to make that small business thrive. Everything you do, or don’t do, matters. You need to be on your best game every day.

I am going to relate two true stories to you that happened a few years ago now…but I will never forget them.

My husband inherited an assistant years ago and during crunch time to get a project done he handed her a paper with a sticky note attached that said “make 18 copies please.”  She came back with 18 copies of the sticky note instead of 18 copies of the paper.  We laugh about it often…but he was truly shocked at the time.  She had a great attitude and willingness to learn so he felt she was worth training. She in time became a valuable employee with excellent skills and was consistently promoted within the company and always got excellent reviews.

We had an employee once that was highly educated, had put in 30 years in a career but wasn’t ready to just retire at such a relatively young age.  In the interview he stated that he had just lost a job he had for less than a year and wasn’t sure why but he knew he would be able to do the job we needed him for.  One of his duties was to do the invoicing which involved running credit cards.

In a few weeks the accountant asked to meet with the owner and myself (this was before I owned the company) and pointed out that though the sales were great, the funds were not for some strange reason.  I was asked to look into it and it turned out that the credit cards were not actually being run.  We looked great on paper but not in the bank!  When I asked the employee about it he said he didn’t like to run credit cards so he simply didn’t do it.  He then went on to tell me that he loved his job…just not any of the duties he was expected to do.  He liked the companionship of his fellow workers and the paycheck …but didn’t actually want to do the work.  Needless to say he didn’t last at our company.  He was a nice person, he was fun, but if he didn’t want to do the job we could find “nice” and “fun” and still get the job done! His attitude was not geared towards excellence.

Have a great attitude, be trainable and get the job done!  That way you can be called “excellent” by your employer, your fellow workers and your customers.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Growing Your Company In Just A Few Steps

Rhonda HiltbrandMemory is always faulty. Emotions are always true. ~Author Unknown

We are a resource…
Did you know that we are the oldest marketing company specializing in helping you, the independent repair shop owners, grow their business? It has been over 28 years and we are still going strong and we have seen it all. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly… This goes for both traditional and internet (now called digital) marketing. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed quite a few shop owners who see a new marketing concept and for some reason feels compelled to try it. Unfortunately, more times than not, it doesn’t work and once again a lot of good money and time is wasted.  But it does not have to be like that. Most of our clients pick up the phone and call us or email us to get our perspective.

Marketing gimmicks come along all the time, usually with great fanfare, hooking unsuspecting business owners. We know you are a NEED industry and your marketing needs and wants differ from most other businesses.   We get the same calls making the same promises to us!

We have many customers who tell us that they wouldn’t be in business today if it wasn’t for News Works. We helped them capture the attention of their customers and build up their car count. We enabled them to keep their customers’ attention and loyalty so they aren’t tempted to stray to the chains/dealerships.  Here is how to do it!

  1. Consistent marketing! All of your marketing should inform, educate and entertain to attract attention and keep it.
  • Direct mail gives you room to really make an impression.  We recommend you do a direct mail piece at least quarterly.
  • Social media helps give you “top of mind awareness” to your followers. Keep it short and use an interesting picture and post at least weekly.
  • Websites should be easy to navigate and not filled with so many repeat words your reader gives up in disgust (If I am reading about brake repair I don’t need to see the words “brake repair” 50 times in one short article)!
  • On hold messaging can even be informative, educational and entertaining.
  1. Now that you have grabbed their attention you can build on the relationships by community marketing!  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways!  Here are few examples of what our customers are doing so successfully:
  • Contests! – They do everything from monthly drawings to guessing games.  The trick is the customer has to come into the shop to be eligible.  That doesn’t mean they need their car serviced every month but they drop by to participate in the program.  They then are contacted if they win and their picture is taken and put in the newsletter or on Facebook.
  • Art contests for elementary schools – Teachers and parents like a shop who cares and participates in this event!
  • Car Care Clinics are also well received and what a great way to inform, educate and entertain!

Remember, this method of growth is done through emotions which is the key element in building trust which is the key element in building loyalty.

I could do an entire seminar on this subject but I try to keep Help Me Rhonda short as I know you are all so very busy.  For more information on how to keep growing and filling those bays, contact me or George Zabrecky (you can reach George at 513-378-0003 or george@form-ingprofitablesolutions.com).

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


“Learning In Action”

Rhonda HiltbrandYou learn something every day if you pay attention. ~Ray LeBlond

I always learn something when I teach a marketing class.  It happens every single time!  Recently I had the privilege to speak at the Auto Tech Expo, presented by Auto Wares in Schaumburg, Illinois and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tim from The Muffler Shop shared with me that one of the best things he does for all of his customers is leave a gift in their cars after service.  The gift is a cone of popcorn!  He orders it from www.popcornopolis.com.  He says his customers tell him that whatever the cost of the service or repair, this free gift makes them so happy.

Phillip from D & H told me that he always tells his customers that he and his crew stay up-to-the-minute when it comes to auto repair so they can know they are getting the very best service and repair.  When he comes to any training event, he always gets his picture and that of his staff taken and shares it on Facebook.  He says his customers like to see them “learning in action.”

I just had to share these fun ideas with you, my readers, in case you would like to try them!  I got Tim and Phillip’s permission to do this!

If you do some different things and would like to share, please let me know!

Thanks and happy spring!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Technology – Can’t Live With It…Can’t Live Without It!

Rhonda HiltbrandNever trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain. ~J.K. Rowling

Technology: “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” ~Max Frisch

The other day I had great plans and a very tight schedule.  Undaunted…I had it all planned to the minute…but technology had other ideas.  The night before when I went to shut down my laptop, it decided to do an hour’s worth of updates.  The next morning…it very unkindly spent another hour doing more plus initializing.  Usually it asks permission but I read afterwards that it was trying to be helpful.  Needless to say that backed up my entire day as I simply had to launch payroll that morning to Paycor and other necessary items on my to-do-list that required technology in order to be accomplished. I was only happy I didn’t have a flight to catch!  I know the plane wouldn’t wait for me anymore than my “updates” would.

I was recently speaking to shop owners about technology.  We love it, of course, when we feel in control.  We all pay for monthly subscription services and it is up to us to decide, after using them for a few months, if they are worth it. We discussed that very issue…how do you really know if you are in control if you don’t track it?  Many pay their monthly subscriptions and never look back.  They couldn’t honestly tell you if what they are paying for is working for them or not.

Make sure the very technology you are paying for is working…and it isn’t getting a boost from another source you are also paying for and taking credit!  That doesn’t help you!  If you can’t track it yourself…don’t use it!

When my customers ask my opinion about certain services I don’t provide, I do research for them and recommend…but I always say it is now up to them to track it!! Keep in mind that what works for one shop…doesn’t necessarily work for every shop!  Do your due diligence.

Notice the quotes I used above…our technology does seem to be equipped with brains…like they think for themselves.  It is up to us though, to keep in touch with it enough that we do experience our world…and that we don’t just leave it up to technology as it keeps collecting its dues.

Have a great one!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Making It All Work On Both Sides of the Counter

Rhonda Hiltbrand“We’re not in the chicken business; we’re in the people business.” ~Truett Cathy – late founder of Chick-fil-A

Working in a small business has challenges but many rewards.

  • You are never just a number!
  • You stand out no matter what your job title is!
  • Your actions matter every moment!
  • You sometimes get to wear many hats so you learn … a lot!
  • You are appreciated every single day!

What do the best service advisors offer their employer?

  • Engagement
  • Enthusiasm
  • A positive attitude

What do the best service advisors offer their customers?

  • A smile
  • A helpful attitude
  • A non-judgmental demeanor
  • Eye contact
  • Dignity and respect

Be the very best you can each and every single day and you, your employer and your customers will reap the rewards.

I hope you have wonderful 2016!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Challenges

Rhonda HiltbrandA journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click. ~Author Unknown

Just a couple of years ago, in order to have the best SEO, auto repair shop owners (or the people they hired to help their SEO along) just stuffed their website full of adwords.  It didn’t matter to them if the “articles” didn’t make sense.  They just kept adding those key words!

Then along came “content marketing” and if your website articles didn’t make sense you quickly got pushed down the list in the search.  Those who faithfully track their website’s success were amazed at how quickly those adwords were no longer helping like they used to.

SEO, like everything else in marketing, keeps changing.  It may be subtle at first but before you know it, it can be a real game changer.  What matters at this moment for SEO?

  • Relevant content
  • Mobile-friendly look
  • Keep it short as consumers’ attention spans keep getting shorter
  • Telephone numbers need to stand out
  • Using video? The shorter the better
  • Get your point across in a hurry

What does this tell us about marketing in general?  You might fool consumers at first with “tricks” but it won’t last.  Be authentic as that stands the test of the time.

I hope you have a wonderful 2016!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Share Meaningful Insights To Empower Customers and Build Trust!

Rhonda HiltbrandEducation is learning what you didn’t know you didn’t know. ~George Boas

I was watching the weather report on television yesterday because we had out-of-town company coming and we want to go to The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo.  As of this writing we had been enjoying sunny days and weather in the 50/60’s during the day.  As I was sitting there waiting for the forecast I was thinking how dry my hands and lips felt and I usually don’t feel that dry until January/February.  I was hoping this wasn’t the result of getting older! Ha ha!

The meteorologist captioned her forecast by saying it is Chapstick weather because even though the temperature is mild it is very dry right now.  She went on to say that this is when we experience static cling and dry lips and skin.  I was impressed by that forecast!  How informative.  Now I know it is the dry weather that causes chapped lips and dry hands, not just the gloomy, colder days of January and February. She gave me meaningful insights into the weather!

I then thought of all of us consumers who feel empowered by our automotive service experts when they tell us “good to know” information.  A customer shared with me the other day that a competitor just moved in and was selling flushes with every oil change.  He was rightly concerned that this person was “ripping off” the consumers.  This is when a shop owner or service advisor needs to educate their customers on flushing/fluid exchanges.  They simply might not be aware that this should not be done with every oil change! Many of my automotive repair shop customers call this practice “wallet flushing.”

When you share your knowledge with your customers they will truly be grateful because today’s consumers want to be informed so they feel a part of the decision making process when it comes to their car’s health.  This knowledge also builds trust!

You can share this information at the counter and social media in small doses or in larger doses on your website and direct mail.  They will appreciate it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing