Running a successful and profitable auto repair shop takes a lot of time, effort and hard work. You need to understand how every piece of the business works. From the actual fixing of cars through to how to give customers the service they want so they become lifetime clients. So, how does an auto repair shop become a “top shop”?
When striving to be a “top shop” it will be the little things that push your auto repair shop into the upper echelon. One big factor that is a must is strong client relationships. Unfortunately, many clients have been let down by auto repair shops.
Their previous auto repair shop may have been dishonest about the repairs they suggested or overcharged the client. Many times it is a perception rather than a fact.
The best way to build client relationships is by being honest from the beginning. When an auto repair shop is upfront about repairs and costs the client will begin to trust the auto repair shop. Once that trust is established, the auto repair shop will have a loyal client.
Show Customer Appreciation
Without clients an auto repair shop cannot be successful or profitable. Letting your customers know that you appreciate their business is a great way to become a top shop. One example is to send a client a thank you note for their business. Or call to be sure they are happy with their repair a few days after they leave the auto shop.
Another great way to let your customers know you appreciate them is by sending them discount offers. With all the amazing technology out there you can send those offers through email or SMS texting.
Don’t be Afraid of Change
It is easy to get stuck in the same routine. We all want to do what is most comfortable. For example, if the employees in your shop are currently great auto technicians, your shop might need a good service writer. The goal is to improve your shop’s efficiency, which improves your profits, helping to make your shop a “top shop”.
Communication with Auto Repair Customers
One of the biggest complaints by customers is the lack of communication, or worse, miscommunication. For example, when a customer is given an estimate of $350 for a repair, and the repair ends up being $500, there is a problem. If the service writer made an error in the estimate, this needs to be communicated to the customer.
Or if the auto repair ends up being a bigger job than the technician thought, communication with the customer is key to keeping customers long term.
Many complaints are based on perception, if the customer perceives that you run a professional business they will trust your word and not doubt you when they hear the problem is worse than initially thought.
By keeping the customer in the loop on any changes you won’t run into issues when it is time for the bill to be paid. Automotive shop software can automate many aspects of the communication with your customers.
Understand Your Auto Shop Customers
Many auto repair shops fail to realize that women make most of the major financial decisions in the household. So, if an auto shop is geared only towards men, they are turning away customers.
Women tend to ask more questions and expect someone to take time to answer them. So, you should have someone running the front area who is knowledgeable and can easily access the information they are requesting.
Women also expect a cleaner environment and will not deal with a car repair shop that is dirty, they also do not want to see technicians outside the shop smoking or on their cell phones. A clean modern front of house is almost as important as your ability to fix their cars.
Great automotive shop software can be used to provide accurate and fast repair estimates and will help turn a novice front desk person into a wealth of information.
Be Honest about Auto Repair Costs
When explaining an estimate to customer be sure to explain everything that is in that estimate. The estimate should break down parts, labor and any fees. The customer should have no questions about where the total amount comes from. Having a good service writer, paired with automotive shop software, is essential for putting together a proper estimate.
Also, be sure to use language that the customer can understand. Nothing frustrates a customer more than feeling stupid because they don’t understand the jargon.
Your estimates should break all this down and have a disclaimer at the bottom to cover you, getting the vehicle owner to sign the estimate proves they understand the costs involved in repairing their car.
Becoming an auto repair “top shop” often comes down to making small adjustments in your processes and culture. Customers notice a front area that is clean, doesn’t smell like an auto repair shop and has a few personal touches like magazines and bottles of water. They appreciate being kept in the loop, like changes to an estimate.They truly appreciate honesty.
Customers who can find a reliable, honest and friendly auto repair shop will be loyal for many years to come and will become your greatest advocate amongst their friends and acquaintances.
In order for an auto repair shop to become a “top shop” it must have repeat customers. It must also have auto repair shop customers who tell all their friends, gaining a steady flow of new and lifetime customers.