Referrals

Rhonda HiltbrandLoyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you. – Chip Bell

When a customer refers you to a friend it is wonderful.  The tricky part is to make sure the referral is as excited about your service as your loyal customer is.  That should be easy, right?  Well…not always.

I recommended a family member to my service and repair shop the other day for brake work.  I had my vehicle in for repair two weeks prior and my husband had his in for brakes just the week before.  They got the work done in both cases in record time.  They called with an estimate in about half an hour and the work was completed in about three to four.

I mentioned it in passing to a family member and they said they needed brake service, and would I recommend they go there.  I said yes, of course.  I even offered to help by meeting him there and driving him back home.  I said they are super-fast!  I should be back to pick him up around noon if we get his vehicle there by 8:00.

The estimate call came in quickly and then the wait began.  I know they close at 6:00 and the family member lives a half hour away from me and this was Good Friday besides.  Traffic would be intense. When 4:00 rolled around I called the shop.  They apologized profusely, said the vehicle had been ready for some time but a staff member was off and the person that was supposed to call forgot.  Yikes!  Thankfully we got the vehicle and they did wonderful work as always.

It seems whenever I recommend a business to someone, even if it is a restaurant, something goes wrong.  A few years ago, I even took friends to a favorite restaurant and it was an awful experience for all of us.  The staff was completely off their game that day.  I had never had it happen before or since, but my friends said they would never go there again.  Sigh…

If you are a great shop and you have loyal customers, but they don’t refer you, it might not have anything to do with you and your staff.  They may just be afraid due to a bad experience elsewhere. Should you be fortunate enough to have referrals, do your very best to make it the best experience ever.

Most likely this doesn’t apply to you, but in the off chance, I thought I would share it.

Have a great week!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Attitude

Rhonda HiltbrandWork is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun. ~Colleen C. Barrett

I was thinking about the face of businesses.  Many times, the person we deal with in business is not the owner…but the employee who has become the “face of the business” for the consumer at that moment.  It is important to be a happy face with a great attitude that shines through.

I have no less than six grocery stores a mile from my home.  Sometimes I check myself out, but not always.  Of the six stores, one has wonderful items, but two particularly grumpy checkout ladies.  When I say, “Good morning! How are you, today?”  I get the rundown on how miserable their life is working at that store.  I always listen and say that I hope things improve.  I also mentally shake myself off when I leave the store and get myself in a happier state of mind.

The other stores have the most cheerful people working there.  One particularly hires older adults, and many have health issues (no, they don’t talk about their health, but one has an oxygen tank attached so…), but they are as cheerful as they can be.  You leave their presence and the store feeling great and uplifted.

Service advisors have the power to make the customers they deal with leave the shop feeling great and uplifted.  Always be that person!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Gratitude

Rhonda HiltbrandTo speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. ~Johannes A. Gaertner

I have been hearing a lot about gratitude lately on the news and reading about it in articles.  When people are stressed and feeling anxious, they are always advised to write down what they are grateful for…to count their blessings.

Many of us gather together on Thanksgiving with family and friends and take a moment to count our blessings at that time.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to be mindful of our blessings every single day?  It would make us a more positive people.

I want all of you to know that I am very thankful for you.  You have all been a blessing to me professionally and personally.  I am grateful for my suppliers who enable me to have the business that I do.  I am thankful for my employees and know I would be nothing without them. I am thankful for family and friends who surround me with their love and support.

I hope each of you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Customers Aren’t Always Right

Rhonda HiltbrandI recently had an interesting conversation with a 16 year-old that works for a fast food chicken sandwich restaurant.  He was telling me that they have a man who comes in once a week, and orders a combo meal.  He then complains about the meal, so he is given a coupon for a free one next time.  He goes through this routine every week.  I was amazed and asked why they let him get by with it.  He said it is their policy (not widely known) and everyone who works there knows what the guy is doing, but they don’t want the hassle of correcting him.

I have customers who are devastated when they get an unfair, unkind review online.  They ask me what they should do.  They panic! I look at all their reviews and they are glowing…except for the one “mean” one.  I tell them to ask (online) the disgruntled customer to call them directly, or to stop in.  That gets it off the Internet and shows caring to any other reader.

I do notice one thing in common…it is always a complaint about the pricing first…then maybe the work.  I feel that makes it a pricing issue.  They want something for free and feel if they go online and make a fuss about it, the shop owner will cut them a deal just to keep them quiet.  The customer probably does this over and over again at different repair shops.  It is obvious that they knew the price before they said, “go ahead” so…

If this ever happens to you, and they do come in and talk to you, determine if this is just a “money-grab” or a real complaint about the service/repair job.  Of course, if the service/repair was incorrect, make it right!  If it was really about the money, ask why they gave permission to proceed with the job.

I am mostly writing this to say, should this happen to you, don’t be devastated.  There are people out there who almost make it a profession to “get something for nothing” due to the convenience of online complaining.  Don’t let it tear you or your staff apart.  You know you are great, I know you are great, and most importantly, from the majority of the glowing reviews, your customers know it, too.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Keep In Touch

Rhonda HiltbrandThink like a customer.  ~ Paul Gillin

Think like a customer and make sure when they think about auto service and repair, they are thinking about you! Keep in touch with your customers via direct mail and social media.  During a couple of social events these examples of customer loyalty came to my attention.

One man is very loyal to a certain paint company in town, but his wife was getting the kitchen remodeled and had hired a decorator.  The decorator had a paint color in mind, but she used another paint company. The husband took the paint sample to the company he was loyal to and asked them to match it as closely as possible.  He told them he refused to let his wife and her decorator come between them after all these years! 

Of course, this made us all laugh, but I really appreciated the loyalty he had to his preferred paint company.  I’m sure that company felt the same way! The husband was doing all the painting himself and he knew what he liked in a paint brand!

A senior in college was home for a quick weekend trip and was lamenting about how her hair needed trimmed.  She didn’t want to go anywhere else but to her usual salon and wasn’t sure they could fit her in on such short notice.  She said if they could, great!  If not, she would just have to keep her split ends for a while longer, until her next trip home!

I was again amazed at the loyalty!  Of course, I am very loyal, too.  I recently waited a week for a repair to my Jeep because my favorite technician (who is a fellow Jeep enthusiast) was off due to his baby’s birth.

These connections are strong.  Who do you feel extremely loyal to and why?  Make sure you are “top of mind awareness” with your customers.  They might not need to see you every 3,000 miles as in the past, but make sure they would feel terrible if they went anywhere else for their vehicle service or repair.  You don’t have to put them on a guilt trip, of course, just always keep your company in their minds when it comes to quality service and repair.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Your Website Is Now Your Yellow Pages!

Rhonda HiltbrandMany of our customers are telling us that they seem to be getting a lot more visits to their website, but it isn’t generating more sales.  Here is what a recent study discovered:

“The MMA recently unveiled a study for Allstate containing compelling new insights – including proof that there is no direct correlation between click-throughs and conversions.”

Your website will get more visits these days and should…because it is now being used to look up your telephone number. If consumers hang out a bit and click through that is good news…they may just be trying to see if you have an article about what they are experiencing with their vehicle.  Make sure you have that information on your website.

If you need help in this area, please contact us!  We’ll be glad to help!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Automotive Service Advisor – Doing Your Part

Rhonda Hiltbrand“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael Leboeuf

If you are the service advisor but not the owner (I know some of you wear both hats) you are still very responsible for the success of the business you work for!  You are the front line.  Your role is extremely important!

You need to come to the job each day with energy, intelligence and a desire to meet the needs of each and every customer and at the same time, grow the bottom line of the shop you work for.  See how very important you are?

If you feel you are lacking in this area, or have lost your zeal the past year, make this your year to shine!  What can help?

  • Stay current with training.
  • Meet with others in your profession and exchange ideas.
  • Set goals for yourself with an attainable deadline to accomplish them.

Wishing you all the best in 2018!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


The Tale of the Hot Dog Vendor

Rhonda Hiltbrand“Early to bed, early to rise, work like [#%!] and advertise.” – Ted Turner

Over the years there have been similar versions of this tale.  It is one of my favorites.  From time to time I get asked to share it again, so here it is!

The Hot Dog Vendor

There was a hot dog vendor who sold the very best hot dogs by the side of the road. His business was booming, people loved his hot dogs, and his business steadily increased month after month. The man loved his business and believed in the need to provide great food at a great price.

This man was so busy advertising and selling his hot dogs and making lots of money, that he didn’t even have time to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Consequently, he never heard a word about the potential economic slowdown. He just continued to offer his delicious hot dogs and his customers bought them. He kept advertising and selling, and they kept buying.

Then one day his college educated son told him that an economic downturn was surely coming. His son told him that people wouldn’t have enough money to buy his hot dogs. The successful hot dog vendor believed this, so on his son’s advice, he cut back on his advertising. Additionally, he started ordering less supplies and product, because after all, people would be cutting back soon.

He even went so far as to take down many of the billboards that led to his roadside stand. And sure enough, people stopped coming to him. People stopped buying his hot dogs, and he eventually went broke.

Then he thought to himself. “How smart my son is in predicting this.”

Hope you enjoyed it!

Happy advertising!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


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


Who Likes To Get Mail?

Rhonda HiltbrandWhat a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp.  ~Author Unknown

I was going through my marketing smart briefs this week and ran across an article for marketers.  It said that many presume that only elderly people like to get direct mail but went on to say that, contrary to popular opinion, that assumption is just not true!  It turns out that all generations like to get mail.  I, of course, knew this as it is my job as a marketer to have all that information at my fingertips each and every day, just like it is your job to have your finger on the pulse of the automotive repair industry.

These days, when so many of us pay our bills online, our mailbox is less cluttered.  We pay more attention to the mail we do receive.  Online ads are always popping up and we have become so desensitized to these ads that we shut them down without even giving them a chance to be viewed.  We are focused on what we wanted to see online…and not allowing that ad(s) to interrupt our singlemindedness.

People will often look at something online and unless they print it out, will forget where they saw it.  A well put together printed piece of mail, on the other hand, is something people can hold on to and save until later.  They enjoy holding it, touching it, and retaining it (especially if it includes a coupon offer).

It seems that all generations, from Traditionalists (born 1945 – and before), Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), Generation X (born 1965 – 1976) and Millennials (born 1977 – 2000) trust direct mail more than any other marketing channel.

I thought that all my customers who currently do direct mail with my company would enjoy reading this, and those who aren’t might wish to explore this option! It is hard to beat direct mail for Business to Consumer!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing