Customer 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:
• Physically they are standing across the counter from you but mentally their mind is elsewhere
• 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.
News Works Marketing
(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!
News Works Marketing
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!
News Works Marketing Group
When it comes to prospecting I personally use direct mail that is extremely targeted. I have to market from coast to coast so I have found this method works best for me. It gives me a better chance of getting “gold nugget” customers because I am able to pick and choose exactly what I was looking for.
Referrals are a great way to get new customers too. Sometimes those referrals just want my “lost leader” or our Mystery Gift Cards. I am happy to oblige because I am so thankful my current customers think enough of my company and our Mystery Gift Cards to tell others about them with enthusiasm. I am glad they work! It is also a means to offer the new customer the opportunity to experience News Works Marketing for the first time. They usually come back for more Mystery Gift Cards and/or try our other services and products so I feel the experience for them was good.
I know several of my customers tell me that their oil change is their lost leader. When they get a customer to try them for the first time it is often just for an oil change at the special website price for first-time customers. The customer found them doing an organic search. The customer comes in, gets the oil change, and to the shop owners’ dismay, they never come back again.
Don’t take it to heart too much…and don’t give up! I’m sure your counter staff gave them a wonderful experience. Many times those responding to a special offer will only go to places where they have an amazing coupon…then next time they need an oil change they do the search again for yet another coupon somewhere else. When the economy gets “normal” again they may remember you for the great experience and return. Meanwhile, keep in touch with them now and then. Send them a “thank you” and perhaps enclose a coupon for the next time. Send them a text message now and then or an email if you have it.
Meanwhile, do like I do. Be happy they found you and be happy they tried you. If they were referred to you by another customer, be very happy your customers think enough of you to refer you!
I also feel that one day, when you least expect it, that one-hit wonder may be a gold nugget customer! Hang in there…it can and does happen!
News Works Marketing Group