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


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


“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


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


We Can’t Do It Alone!

Rhonda HiltbrandOn Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. ~William Jennings Bryan

As a business owner, I know I need others to help me each and every day of the year.  I am so thankful for the wonderful staff, the customers and suppliers who make my business successful.

The most humbling times for me are when I feel a bit frustrated from time to time and I quietly rant and rave a little bit…until I pause and think of each person individually and wonder where would the company be at this moment without that individual?

The great part of coming together Monday through Friday with staff, customers and vendors is the knowledge that we each do our part, large and small and in between to make something greater than our individual selves.

This Thanksgiving season, while you are enjoying family and friends, great food and for many, football, also think of the individuals who make you the success you are!

At this time, I want to thank you, the reader of my posts, for taking the time.  Most of you are my customers and I certainly appreciate each and every one of you!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at News Works Marketing!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


It Can Be Scary Out There!

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

Technology…even for us in marketing can be a challenge.  Why?  Because sometimes its benefits are so very hard to prove! I have had a salesperson bugging me for over a month wanting me to buy his program that basically would interrupt a shop owner doing a search with an ad.  I told this salesperson that:

Number 1 – I can’t stand to have my searches interrupted by an ad and will sometimes just exit the site it took me to because that really annoys me! Why would I want to do that to auto repair shop owners?

Number 2 – Ad blocking has been threatened…so where would that leave me? Seems like that would be $1500 a month of wasted funds.

Number 3 – How would they target my customers as it is hard for me to even purchase a mailing or email list of independent auto repair shops without getting mostly new and used car dealerships and towing companies. I’ve wasted money on that before.

Needless to say he was very, very pushy and I hope he won’t bother me again!

Technology is a moving target.  What worked yesterday…might not work today…or tomorrow.  It is constantly changing.  I have a wonderful customer in Arizona who keeps great tabs on what works and doesn’t work for him.  He has a finger on the pulse of his business and his marketing.  He was surprised that ad words isn’t working so great now and that Yelp is doing well at this time.  When he paid a higher monthly fee for Yelp it didn’t work…now that he has gone with a less expensive package he is seeing good results.  Does he take that for granted? No…he will keep on testing to see.

Seems we never stop taking tests, right?

Happy Halloween from all of us at News Works Marketing!  Remember, if marketing is more frightening to you than things that go bump in the night…give us a call.  We are here to help!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Autumn…No Matter Where You Live!

Rhonda HiltbrandThat old September feeling… of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air…. Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes and failures had been wiped clean by summer. ~Wallace Stegner

Many customers tell me that they don’t really have a major change of season like we do here in Cincinnati, Ohio and in my travels I have, of course, noticed that. Fall is my very favorite time of the year and as I sit here at my desk with the morning’s cool breeze coming in through the open windows I feel revitalized somehow.  The leaves haven’t changed color much yet, but they will soon. Pumpkins and mums are everywhere at the stores (and I admit I have pumpkins in my mulch beds already…after all…they are ripe now in the gardens).

Autumn, no matter where you live is a great time to remind customers to come in for service.  While they are in, check their lights for them as darkness will be with us longer now.  Make sure their wiper blades are in good working order and don’t forget that battery.  It is also a great time to make sure the coolant and other fluids are in great shape.

No one likes to have a breakdown, but a breakdown in darkness seems so much worse!  They will thank you for the attention to detail!

If you need help spreading the word, just contact us!  All of us at News Works Marketing are here to help you!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing