With all the marketing that is out there every day and the constant distractions that have become modern day life, it is almost impossible for a business to get noticed. We are hit with over 3,000 pieces of marketing (daily) by some estimates. My insurance agent cut thru all the noise perfectly. I checked the mail when I got home the other day and there was the usual assortment of advertising, junk mail and bills. There was one hand addressed envelope. It was a birthday card from my insurance agent. How refreshing, I thought. I prefer a local insurance agent to those national companies; someone that I know, not a corporate address seven states away. I like the personal touch of dealing with someone I know. What a better way for him to capitalize on his competitive business advantage. That card reminded me why I use a local agent and it reinforced our relationship. It put him top of mind with me. Anytime I call his office, he answers the phone. I love the personalized attention I always get from him. It is the competitive advantage he has over all the big box insurance companies. Your shop has the same opportunity to deliver personalized attention that other shops just cannot compete with. You can build and maintain personal relationships with your clients. Here is how you can put this to work for your shop.

First Time Customers

So much money, time, and effort go into getting a first time customer in the door. The follow up call can make the difference between beginning a relationship and never seeing them again. This call should reinforce their decision to choose your shop over all others. This is your chance to get a fresh perspective on what it is like to do business with your shop. Asking open-ended questions is key to getting great feedback. Organize your questions from most important to least important. If your customer is short on time or becomes distracted, you covered the most important questions first.

The basic elements are:

• Was the customer happy with the service?
• Did the repair meet their expectations?
• What could we do to improve their experience?

To get some detail you can ask more specific type questions:

• How did you hear about us?
• How long after your arrival were you greeted?
• How would you describe your interaction with your service advisor?
• Did you receive a full report on the vehicle inspection?
• Was your bill under or over the estimate?
• How often did your service advisor contact you?
• How is your vehicle performing now?

There are lots of possible questions to help you understand your customer’s experience and continue to improve it. The call will help solidify the positive feeling about their purchase and your shop in general. They feel valued and in a very personal way. Write the answers down and review them. Use this information to improve your customer’s experience.

Returning Customer Call

Not every visit will require a follow up call. Set an approximate invoice amount that will decide if a call should be made; for example any repair over $750. The reason is that customers do not always appreciate a call every time they visit. It may seem like too much, almost pushy. The goal is to stay top of mind and maintain a relationship. If a particular repair does not go as planned, you may want to do a follow up call to see how they are doing. Maybe their parts came in a day too late, or the service advisor did not call them on time because the phone number was wrong. Reach out with a call and make sure that your relationship is still intact. Apologize for the problem. Assure them that they are important and you want them to be happy. Tell them that you are always available to them for any reason at all.

Best Practices for Calls

The ideal person to make follow up calls is the service advisor who handled the customer. The goal is to cement the relationship and the service advisor they remember is the way to go. With a little preparation it works great. Make the calls from a quiet office away from noise and distractions. Have the invoice and notes from the repair for easy reference so the call can move smoothly. Have a list of questions to keep the conversation structured. Leave plenty of room to write their responses down with detail. Owners or managers should call if there was an issue with a particular deal. If the service advisor was the problem, do not let him make the follow-up call. I also recommend the owner or managers make a few of the calls from time to time just to spot check and insure that things are going according to plan and that your customers are receiving excellent service.

Follow-Up Thank You Cards

This is a great way to maintain your relationship with your customers. A standard thank you card is perfect. The key is that you personalize it with a quick note that is specific to that customer. Something that says you remember them. For example; they may have talked about their favorite football team, so write, “Go Bucs”, and sign it. If they brought their dog, “It was fun to have Snoopy at the shop”, or “Hope you had a great vacation in Key West”. Make sure you hand address the envelope. This card will feel very personalized and your customer will talk to people about it. You are making them feel special and appreciated. Do this for every customer who did not qualify for a follow up call. This will guarantee that you reach out to every customer every time they come to your shop. This will maintain and build your relationships with your customers.

Dormant Customers

Every business loses some customers thru attrition. They may move away, buy a new car, or maybe they had a bad experience. In order to find out you can give them a call or send a card. You can buy “Haven’t seen you in a while” cards. Put a personalized message on it, hand address it, and track the results. Depending on the particular customer, a phone call could be the best approach. Consider whom you are reaching out to and give it your best effort. It is much easier to bring a customer back into the fold than develop a new customer.

How It Helps

There are several benefits to working this program. Increased customer retention is the obvious benefit. You are also creating strong relationships. By staying in touch you can create new innovations your customers want. It brings problems to light you may not have been aware of without this level of a relationship. Most important is you differentiate your shop from all the rest. It will set you apart and ACCELERATE YOUR SUCCESS!