Can You Be Replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

rhonda…Stephen Hawking suggests that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” to Elon Musk saying that “If I had to guess what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably artificial intelligence.”

I must admit to you all that I am a Star Trek fan. My favorites are Star Trek, Next Generation and Star Trek, Voyager.  When it comes to artificial intelligence interacting with humans I always picture Data and The Doctor.  I know a lot of Sci Fi shows (and even these showed the dark side of AI on an episode or two) have the AI’s wiping out humanity, unhappy at how they had been treated.

My inbox is full lately on the subject of AI. My Smartbriefs articles are all about AI and what it can do for businesses.  It has been seen as the way to get back good customer service.  I have been thinking a lot about that lately and think to myself…what a shame that customer service has become so poor that we need to create an artificial type.

I had the point driven home to me when I was exceptionally tired last week and in a moment of weakness drove through and ordered a diet coke.  (I try to just have my morning coffee and then water the rest of the day).  The person handed me a dripping cup.  I asked that it be wiped off please (who wants that on their clothes and in the cup holder?).  They did and I left and when I went to take a drink the lid came off, getting me wet anyway.  At that moment, I thought that an AI being couldn’t do any worse and perhaps could do a whole lot better!

The news was saying that in ten years banks will no longer have tellers as they will be replaced with AI.  I find that very sad. Other businesses are also preparing to replace humans with kiosks and other forms of AI.

Next time you are out and about notice the type of customer service you are receiving.  Then ask yourself if you are giving the best possible customer service to your customers.  It is something to consider.  I am sure no one wants to feel they can be replaced by AI.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Never Be Too “Busy” to Help the Customer

Most-Important-Visitor

Rhonda HiltbrandThis week I went, as usual, to our local farmer’s market.  They have many unique items, a wonderful array of Amish goods and local homemade items. I was at the deli counter and asked for a pound of shaved ham.  The counter person kept slicing and putting it up on the scale until it was short one quarter pound.  She sighed deeply and said if I must have a pound she would have to open a new package.  I was shocked at the attitude but said, “No, that is okay. I’ll try to get by with this amount.”

I think she then realized what she had done and asked me what I was going to use it for.  I told her and we chatted a bit about recipes and such and then she asked if I needed anything else.  Before I could answer she said, “I know, the rest of your order of ham!”  I told her it was okay and took my package and went about my shopping.

She was an employee at this small business and in my opinion basically cheated her employer out of a full sale (and this is always wrong no matter if it is a big box store or small independent) but I felt especially bad for this employer as it is a small, independent business and every sale counts!

I then thought about the Facebook post I had put on our News Works page (the one above) and thought…how very true!

Have a great month and treat those customers well!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Thanks For A Wonderful Year!

Thanks for a wonderful year! All of us at News Works Marketing wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year!

I ran across these little “B’s” of wisdom and thought I would share it with you to wrap up the year!

B hopeful, B happy, B cheerful, B kind,
B busy of body, B modest of mind,
B earnest, B truthful, B firm and B fair…
B watchful, B ready, B open, B frank,
B manly to all men, whatever B their rank;
B just and B generous, B honest, B wise…
B temperate, B steadfast, to anger B slow.
B thoughtful, B thankful, whate’er may B tide…
B pleasant, B patient, B fervent to all,
B best if you can, but B humble withal.
B prompt and B dutiful, still B polite;
B reverent, B quiet, and B sure and B right…
B grateful, B cautious of those who B tray.
B tender, B loving, B good and B nign,
B loved thou shalt B, and all else B thine.
~”A Swarm of Bees,” The British Bee Journal, and Bee Keeper’s Adviser, 1882 February 1st

Talk to you in 2017!

Rhonda Hiltbrand

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Gratitude

Rhonda HiltbrandGratitude is the best attitude. ~Author unknown

It is that time again!  Time to pause and count our blessings.  It would benefit us all, of course, to count our blessings daily.

I know life gets crazy and sometimes it is difficult to stop and realize all the good we have in our lives.  Service advisors sometimes deal with difficult customers and of course, being a small business owner is a daily challenge all by itself.  I’m sure, like me, you sometimes wonder, “What was I thinking?”  LOL!

Speaking as a business owner, I know I have lots of people to thank each and every day for keeping the business going.  It seems seamless sometimes, but of course, that is just because my staff and my suppliers do their jobs so well that it seems to run on auto pilot.  Of course, if anything happened to any one of them, the business would feel it!

I am very thankful for all our wonderful customers! We talk about this at our Friday staff/lunch meetings.  We have such great customers and they seem more like friends as we truly care about them on a personal level and we feel they care about us in return.  Can it get any better than that?  The only way that can be improved on is to get more just like them!

Thanks for everything you do to help us make News Works Marketing a success! Our goal each day is to help you keep your business successful!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Building Connections

Rhonda HiltbrandMarketing is really about building strong connections that won’t break. ~ Rhonda Hiltbrand

My husband and I were having a conversation recently about our beloved Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  He was saying how it never used to be as crowded with visitors as it is these days.  I told him it is because they are now marketing so well.  They do direct mail, social media, billboards, TV commercials…they do it all!  They are involved also in the community helping to plant flowers in less prosperous areas of town and they attend the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals events.  They have summer camps for children and special events for members.  They are truly connected!

We feel we know the animals so well because due to this marketing, we know their names, their ages, their quirks and where they stand on the endangered species list.  We know when they give birth and rejoice and just have to go and see the new offspring.  We understand but feel a little sad when they get older and are sent to other zoos.  Yes…their marketing builds strong connections.

Your marketing can do the same.  We always say News Works helps with this by making our shop owners stars.  Their customers build strong connections with them because when they get their newsletter/flyer/postcard, they feel they really know that person who owns the shop where they get their vehicle serviced.  When our shop owners do an employee spotlight, it builds yet another connection.  Ties that bind are important in this day of coupon chasing.  If your customers connect with you, they won’t even think of going elsewhere.

I am so happy to tell you that our customers are reporting that they are “slammed” with work.  That is music to my ears.  That means they are marketing correctly and consistently.  If you need help in this area, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We would like to help you become a star too…and more importantly, help you to build strong connections with your customers.

Have a great August!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


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


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


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