Keep the customers coming
Car and truck servicing can be make or break for some workshops, especially now that some Warrant of Fitness (WoF) and Certificate of Fitness (CoF) periods have been lengthened and this lucrative business opportunity has been cut back, but there are a few ways you can increase the throughput in your workshops.
1. Advertising. If no-one knows who you are, and where you are, they won’t know to bring their business to you. So be OUT there. Spend as much as you can on advertising to make sure people put YOU on top of their servicing lists. But at the same time make sure you’re using the right sort of advertising. Google ads may appear cost-effective, for instance, but you know how hit and miss the Internet can be, and in any case, how many people actually read these ads?
But local newspapers continue to be a great option, as do specialist magazines such as this one, which go right to the people you want to talk to.
Local radio is good, but national radio is a waste of time unless you’re a national organisation. And TV? Well, it might feed your ego, but it won’t feed your kids – apart from being hit and miss, especially where more and more people are recording their favourite programmes and fast-forwarding through the ads, it’s horrendously expensive.
2. OK, you’re made the decision to advertise, but what do you say about yourself? Yes, people want to know you’ve been around a while, but they don’t need a history lesson about your business – what they want to know is what you can do for them, and how much it’s going to cost.
3. Don’t lose focus. You’ve placed a few adverts, and the business is starting to roll in, but don’t now sit back on your laurels and think you can stop. People have short memory spans, and to stay top of mind you’re got to keep the process rolling.
4. Monitor your advertising and see what works best for you. If you’re not getting a return on your investment in terms of customers through the door, change direction. And don’t forget to change your ads regularly. People have a built-in cut-out mechanism where they recognise something they’ve seen before, and so no longer take any notice of it.
5. Interact with your customers. Find out why they came to you, and afterwards follow-up to see if they’re happy with the job you’ve done. Most important, if they complain DON’T get all huffy and defensive. Take it on the chin and listen to what they have to say, and they’ll come back to you. Argue and bluster, and you’ll never see them again.
6. Keep records. Make a file for each customer and remind them when their next service is due. They’ll appreciate your concern, and since most people like to take the easiest option, they’ll come to you to do the job.
7. Have specials. Kiwi customers like bargains, and if they think they’re going to pay less than they normally would, they’ll come to you for the work. But, make sure you’re making enough money out of the deal or it’s just a waste of time.
8. Most important of all, don’t get so bogged down in operational matters that your marketing goes onto the back burner. As we mention in paint 3, above, people’s memory spans are short so you have to stay focussed on keeping your company top of mind.