My Recent Experience With A Quick Lube

Rhonda HiltbrandWhen solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Recently I had an overheating vehicle…on the weekend!  I needed it to be in perfect working order by Monday morning so…I debated taking it to the corner chain store or to a quick lube equally close by.  The quick lube won.

The young men there quickly took a look under the hood and then the equally fast diagnosis began.

            “You need a new radiator!” said one.

            “You need a new water pump!” declared another.

After much debate a manager returned from lunch and felt the hoses.  It was a hose.  It had a small slit-like crack underneath. The young men didn’t even feel the hoses and even I know that is the first thing to look at.

He ordered the hose…but it took three tries to get the correct hose delivered from an Advanced Auto Parts store.  It also took three hours to replace the hose and give my radiator a flush (or fluid exchange for those of you out west!).  I paid my bill and when I got home was amazed at how dirty the guys left my hood.  I took it to a car wash immediately.

A few days later I had a rather longer than normal drive to another state and thought I detected a kind of burning smell.  After my meeting I drove back to the quick lube.  Again…they gathered around and looked under the hood whispering and gesturing and finally said that the hose had not been clamped properly and the cap had not been put on correctly either.  It took about 45 minutes and I was given every assurance that all was well but they did ask me to drop by again in a few days so they could take another look…just to be sure. I did and all was declared well!

I had to take my car through the car wash again and wipe down my credit card that was extremely greasy.  Yuck.

The moral of this story is…even the most eager to please, enthusiastic quick lube employees (including the manager) will never be as good at diagnosing and repairing even the simplest of issues as a certified technician.

My suggestion to all of you…SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!  To be certified takes work, dedication and a strong desire to be the best!  You are the BEST!  Wear it proudly!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Frustrated with Social Media? Don’t Be!

Rhonda Hiltbrand(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Two)

Social media marketing can be effective, but it shouldn’t be your only tactic for promoting your business, writes Sticky Branding President Jeremy Miller. 

This is part two in answer to a reader who is frustrated that many of his marketing strategies aren’t working like he thought it would! Today’s post is about social media.

Many small business owners (and large business) are frustrated that “Social Media” isn’t paying off.  As small business owners you may have the advantage because:

  • Those who interact with your social media may actually know you and care more about your posts. They will even engage with them now and then.
  • Most of you are posting your own social media and aren’t paying someone (an outside service) to do it for you!

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all the other social sites are a good way to be “social.”  They aren’t necessarily a way to add dollars to your bank account.  Don’t stop being social because of this…your posts can still be enjoyed by your customers.

What type of posts do my most successful shop owners share?

  • Trivia about famous cars
  • Actual pictures of disastrous car parts they are replacing that day
  • Pictures of a staff member’s birthday party, etc.
  • Pictures of unique vehicles they are working on that day

Social media posts themselves may not be making you money, however, they do keep your shop “top of mind awareness” and isn’t that a very important part of marketing?

Do you pay Facebook for your ads?  If so, here is something you will want to know!
Facebook is collaborating with the Media Ratings Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau on viewability. The social network charges only for ads actually viewed, but it defines that as any ad that appears even slightly in front of a user instead of the MRC’s standard that an ad should be 50% viewable for at least one second. The Wall Street Journal

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


It’s Not Only What You Do That Matters…It is How You Do It!

Rhonda HiltbrandCustomer service is not a cost center. Customer service is a
competitive advantage that can make or break a business.

— Alex McClafferty, writing at Forbes

Being a service advisor is all about customer service. If you have natural empathy for your customers you have a great head start…if not it is time to look inward and then brush up on how to relate to your customers’ feelings.

We’ve all been waited on from time to time by a person who acts in one of the following ways:

• Bored
• Physically they are standing across the counter from you but mentally their mind is elsewhere
• Grouchy
• They obviously do not like their job

I saw a sign in an office the other day and it made me laugh, but really sometimes the customer can feel this way about dealing with counter staff.

If you are grouchy, irritable, or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge just for putting up with you!

They may want an additional $10 deducted from their invoice for putting up with this type of counter staff.

Sometimes it is hard to be on your best game every day…but as you usually only see your customers a few times a year…for the sake of the company you work for…always be your very best. If not, you may lose a customer forever.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Community Involvement (Yes…that is also marketing!)

Rhonda Hiltbrand(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part One)

One of my readers has been disappointed in Internet marketing and asked me to write about it.  Below are some feelings he has on the subject; (I am sharing this with his permission).

“The past eight plus years has been one big internet marketing experiment for me. One internet concept after another promised great things and I feel none of it actually delivered. I paid money for a new website and was told this would generate a lot of leads for me. There have been the rare occasion when the website has been beneficial but basically for a service industry like mine, the cost of the website has not generated enough customers to make it worth the price tag. I feel people use it mostly to look up my phone number and hours of operation. It is more or less the “yellow pages” now. Of course, The Yellow Pages was pricy too and didn’t really bring me new customers either.

I post something to Facebook at least once a week and get a few likes but that is from current customers or family and friends. I tried email marketing but the report shows that my regular customers may look at it but then again, they may not. I am starting to realize that certain times of the year I get deletes more than I get viewed. Help me, Rhonda! What can I do?”

I spent time with this reader and gave him some ideas and I thought my other readers might also feel the same frustration he is. I decided to take the next few “Help Me Rhonda” articles to answer this in depth. I discussed this with my staff as well and I will share some helpful tips. If you have been a reader of mine for a long time…you know I always recommend that you “mix it up” as different people want different contact points.

I thought about my most successful customers… those who never suffer from slow times and in fact are booking out weeks in advance. They certainly do have a vast marketing mix and have some other unique concepts they do on a CONSISTENT basis. Here is the first common thread these shops do to stay at the top of their game!

These shop owners participate actively and personally in what we at News Works call, “Community Marketing”. The one common factor with all very successful shops is they are the backbone of their community by sponsoring events. If they sponsor, for example, a sports team. They don’t stop there… they are active with that team. They celebrate their successes by personally attending a few games and treating the team to ice cream or pizza or have a BBQ for them.

  • They are active in their local schools. They hold art contests and give it a theme and pass out trophies.
  • They have car care clinics.
  • They donate a car to a needy family.
  • They are involved in Toys for Tots.

You get the idea. They are well known in their community by sharing themselves. They prove they really care… not by just saying it (though they do that too and put the information in their newsletter… not in a bragging way but thanking others for their participation) but by doing. This creates a family friendly environment with free flowing information that can’t be deleted or scrolled past. It builds a business that will bring in the income you’ve been wanting. People like to do business with a business that cares!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Perspective

I was driving down the interstate the other evening with a semi behind me and two on either side of me when a deer stepped out into traffic. Thankfully we all stopped in time and the other three lanes of traffic across the median did the same! The deer was safe and so were we all! Whew! The next day on Facebook a post pictured two deer checking their mailbox pulling out a letter. It was another thank you note from the auto collision shop. I had to laugh. It is all a matter of perspective.

I have customers who love the snow and ice of winter because they say it brings them much needed business during the winter…and I have those who say their business slumps during the winter because their customers don’t drive as much and don’t need service as often. Again…it is a matter of perspective. For my customers in the warmer climates all year round you would think it would be “steady as she goes” but not always.

What is the important thing here? To know your customers’ habits. I was so surprised to learn recently that Walmart depends on weather forecasts to stock their shelves!

Walmart Is Mining Weather Data to Increase Sales: 4 Weirdest Examples
People don’t like to eat berries when it’s windy
Oct 31, 2014, 1:59 pm EST | By Karl Utermohlen, InvestorPlace Writer
Walmart (WMT) is now using the weather to increase store sales.

The retailer partnered up with the Weather Co. to mine weather data that will help it determine when certain foods are more popular.
Walmart has found thousands of correlations between weather trends and the popularity of certain foods. Here are four of the weirdest ones:
• Berries are at their peak in popularity when there are low winds with temperatures below 80 degrees.
• People like to eat steak when it’s warm (but not too hot) with high winds and no rain.
• On the other hand, ground beef is more likely to be purchased with higher temperatures, low wind and sunny conditions.
• Salads are also popular with low winds and temperatures over 80 degrees!

If you experience a winter sales slump just contact me! We can help!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Tell to Sell…Not To Give The Job To The Competition!

Everyone seems to be looking for a “deal” these days and my customers get frustrated by this just like I do! Yes…I have customers also looking for a cheaper means to market and yet they get upset when their customers look for cheaper auto repair. It seems to be an epidemic and most businesses are feeling the pain of it all.

I get many calls from my customers who tell me they recommend services that their customers refuse and they just know they are “price shopping” after the shop took their time to inspect the vehicle, then spelled it all out for the customer.

I hear this so much and I know I’ve written about it before but I’ll say it again. DON’T SPELL IT ALL OUT! Some of my shop owners have shown me an itemized list of each and every part with the cost included that they have given to their customer. That sure makes it easy for a customer to price shop, doesn’t it?

If you tell them they need a brake job and they ask how much, of course you have to tell them before they will let even you do the job. Give them the total cost, not an itemized cost. You don’t have to hand them an itemized list for them to take with them and give to other shops hoping for a lower price! Almost any shop can cut a price here or there to come in less expensive under those circumstances. They can even use poor quality parts to get the price down and the customer in many cases doesn’t even think about that!

If you are awarded the job, then you can hand them the itemized list when the job is complete. Remember, you are selling more than just parts and service…you are selling value which includes a great warranty and quality parts and certified technicians. If a customer grumbles about pricing, tell them it includes quality all the way around and parts that will last more than a few months. Sure…they can always get it cheaper somewhere or other…but in the long run they may end up paying a whole lot more because quality lasts…cheap doesn’t.

Hang in there!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing Group


Being In The Know

Unless your customers are all car enthusiasts (and some of my shop owners only have that type of customer) they really would love a car that never needs service or repair. That is their true WANT. Since that is not currently possible (and I’m glad as we would both be out of business) we know that the majority want a car that gets them from point A to point B and back again safely.

You know, as a shop owner and/or service advisor what drivers need to have done to their vehicles to make that happen. You go to great lengths to remind them when they need to see you and what they need to have done next time they come in. You offer inspections so they stay safe on the road…some of you do that as a courtesy.

So far, it is easy. Now comes the hard part…getting your customer to WANT what they NEED. You are not alone as that is every business owners’ (and service advisors’) dilemma! What is the best way to accomplish this? Here are a few suggestions that are working for my customers:

• Direct mail is working very well these days…even better than in years gone by. Why? Because it is a relief to consumers to look at it on their time and not be bombarded with emails. Us business owners may be at our computers all day looking at emails and social media, etc, but many consumers don’t get to view their personal inbox or Facebook page until after hours…when they are tired. It is too easy to hit “delete” or “scroll down.” I am guilty of this myself even when it is good stuff that I’m interested in…I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to look at it all!
• Use attention grabbing humor! If you can make your customers chuckle, you can get them to keep on reading your message! I have one customer that uses a funny postcard each July 4. We have made him everything from Uncle Sam to George Washington and are racking our brains for a different look this year. He has a customer who takes that postcard and puts it on his truck and drives it around town for all to see. Now that is engaging your customer!
• When a customer can read on their time what services they need to have done on a quarterly basis in small bites, with a dash of humor and imagination, they learn about automotive service and repair in a fun way.

Try it! If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact me!

Thanks!
Rhonda


Tell & Sell

We all know the economy is tough right now.  We all know everyone is looking for ways to save money.  We all know that everyone wants value!  Value is the key to the “tell and sell” concept.

Value:  Equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc. To give value for value received.

One of the ways consumers are saving money right now is by keeping their cars longer.  They understand that the cars will need to be serviced and that this costs money.  They chose this method because it is still a lot less expensive than buying a new vehicle.

Your key role as a service advisor right now is to sell value!  85% of the time you will be required to sell value over the phone because most consumers will call you first to ask about pricing and or to schedule an appointment.  What they hear from you on the telephone will determine if you make the sale.

Try this:

  • Talk about features
  • Talk about benefits
  • Talk about advantages
  • Ask for the appointment
  • Focus on what is best for the customer
  • Focus on the needs of the customer

Highlights:  We have trained certified technicians here to service you, we use quality parts, and we will top off fluids and check tire pressures between services just to keep your car in top shape.  Yes…brag a bit!  Be proud of the company that employs you!

Don’t:

  • Blurt out prices
  • Rush the call
  • Focus your attention on hours per repair order
  • Focus your attention on your needs over the customers (such as meeting your quota)
  • Recommend additional services before checking on the vehicle service history

When blurting out prices and rushing the call it makes the customer/consumer feel like you just want to hurry them along and you don’t really care if they come in or not.

When asking for the appointment, invite the caller to come in for service.  “Let me see what time we have available that works best for you?  Would today or tomorrow be more convenient?  Will you need a ride to work (or wherever)?

These are just some suggestions and I will be sending these monthly for the benefit of the service advisor.  Feedback is always welcome.

Thanks!
Rhonda