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


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


Hmmmmmm…

Rhonda HiltbrandMotivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. ~Jim Ryun

Like most people, my husband and I are always in a hurry.  We do, of course, make a point of being consistent about getting our vehicles serviced on a timely basis.  5,000 miles ago my husband was told his transmission fluid was getting dirty and needed to be flushed (exchanged) on the next visit.

He took his car in for its oil change and service last week.  Imagine his surprise when after the service was complete they told him the oil was changed, the air filter was still clean, all the fluids were in great shape and topped off and they specifically pointed out that the transmission fluid was very clean.

He looked at me and raised his eyebrows…saying with no words, “You have got to be kidding me!”

My recommendations from this experience to all technicians, service advisors and shop owners…

  • Never recommend a service that doesn’t need to be performed.
  • If you do recommend a service, at least write it down and remember to mention it on the customer’s next visit. This needs to be a habit!My husband’s trust was very bruised.   Hmmmmm…

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


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


Email Marketing

Rhonda Hiltbrand“Email addresses are not data.  Each represents a real person.  Treat them accordingly!”

(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Three)

This is part three 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 email marketing!

I love email!  It is my favorite form of communication.  I like it because it is easy, I don’t have to play “phone tag” with my customers and writing happens to be my main vocation.

However…as a consumer nothing annoys me more than the “overzealous” emailer. I purchase my printer toner at Best Buy.  In December, they decided, for some reason, to start emailing every single day.  They never stopped.  They are on my list to “unsubscribe.”  Web MD seemed like a great business for me to subscribe to.  When they started sending me no less than 20 emails each and every Saturday…way too many through the week and on Sunday, I unsubscribed!  Certain LinkedIn persons decided I needed to hear what they had to say all weekend long and in the evenings and on holidays especially…I dropped them.

The main problem with email marketing is that it is sooooooo easy businesses forget that the email address represents a real human being and it isn’t just “data”.  Respect that person’s time.  Don’t be responsible for their “email fatigue.”

Always ask yourself this question before you send out email marketing…if I had to pay for this service like I do direct mail…would I send it?  Treat it like you would direct mail…always respect your readers!

Some suggested rules of email marketing:

  • – Address your readers’ concerns.
  • – Don’t make it be a big sales push.
  • – Remember it should be all about what you can do for your customer…not about how great you and your business is.
  • – Experiment with the best time to send it out. I do 7:00 am on Tuesday’s because that is when my readers seem to interact with it the most.  I get a great read rate using this time.
  • – Always include an “unsubscribe” option…don’t force yourself on your readers as this will turn them off faster than anything.
  • – I send out two “Help Me Rhonda’s” a month…one to service advisors and one to shop owners. That is all!  I want my columns to be welcomed…not an intrusion on my readers’ busy time.
  • – Keep it short and keep it simple. This email blast is far too long…but I wanted to answer the question I was asked.

If you have further questions about email marketing (this is just the basics) I have a lot more I can say about it so let me know and I’ll make sure you get the information.  You are always welcome to call or email me and I am here to help you!  Don’t hesitate!

Thanks for your time!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing