A Service Repair Center’s Guide To Winning Repeat Business

The Value Of Loyal Customers

Repeat customers are by far the best way to really grow your automotive service business. In fact, it can be up to 5 times more expensive to get a new customer than keep loyal customers. 

A study done by Bain & Company, working with Earl Sasser of Harvard Business School found a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits up to 95%! (Source article) For this reason, it’s important shops do everything in their power to build long-lasting, trusting relationships with each and every customer that walks into the shop. 

Repeat customers simply trust the business more as they have already given the business their hard-earned money before. These people are more familiar with the business and know what to expect. These people are also much more likely to refer other people to the business, something new customers seldom do.

So How Do You Increase Customer Retention?

1) Show and tell 

The reality is, most people are not very knowledgeable when it comes to car repair. Sure some folks may know more than others, but for the most part, drivers rely on the advice from professionals like you.

As you may know, this does not mean they trust you or what you have to say about their vehicle. Drivers are worried about being taken advantage of, and rightfully so.  When shops are recommended service, or find unexpected issues a lot of customers often refuse to believe the findings.

Thanks to advancements in technology this concern is a thing of the past at more and more shops all over North America. Seeing really is believing, especially when it comes to auto repair. When armed with digital vehicle inspection software, customers can clearly see what is wrong with their vehicle and why it needs fixing. 

Digital vehicle inspection software lets techs include photos and videos highlighting problem areas right on the inspection report. This way the customer sees exactly what the pros see while working on/under their car. Customers can see their mileage, the condition of various parts in their car and more. Techs can highlight what needs attention immediately, what is starting to break and what is in good condition. This gives customers a better idea of what to expect of their vehicle going forward, clearly, and with their own eyes. 

This is integral to building a trusting relationship with customers. When the customer sees what’s wrong with their own eyes, they are much more likely to approve big repair orders. They feel like they can make an informed decision (something they’ve been craving since they got their first car.) Not only do they feel informed, they feel like they can trust the auto shop again. When people have trust in businesses, they are much more likely to return in the future.

2) After Trust and Transparency, Customer Convenience is King

With digital vehicle inspections, customers no longer have to wait anxiously for a phone call about their car. They no longer have to get back to you with voicemails or take calls during their busy workdays. 

Instead, they are notified through text or email when the inspection report is done. Customers can then view the findings and approve work right from their smartphones. Easily and with a tap of a button work can then begin immediately. 

Not only is this convenient for the customer, but it’s great for shops too. No longer will you have to wait all day on a callback for work approval. When the customer approves work from their phone you can begin and finish work, then move on to the next car. This helps shops get more jobs done, effectively increasing their car count AND average repair orders.

Another customer convenience tip you can have is self-check-in and easy drop-offs. We recommend shops have a night time drop off station for customers who work during the day. Have a small dropbox where customers can simply drop off their keys so techs can begin working first thing in the morning. This saves customers valuable time in the morning when they have to rush to work and get their kids to school. 

We at AutoServe1 know customer convenience is key. That’s why we built our mobile payments and instant estimate features. Customers now have an option to pay with their phones thanks to our 360 payments integration. Giving your customers a choice in how they pay is always a great idea. Say they forgot their wallet at home but only have their phone. Well now they now longer have to run back home to get their wallet.

3) Loyalty Discounts

Loyalty programs are springing up everywhere, across many industries. Many shops are seeing the benefit of loyalty rewards in keeping their customers for a long time. People simply love these rewards. Odds are if you ask around your work you’ll find at least half the workforce has loyalty cards on them. 

Everyone loves a loyalty discount. They make customers feel appreciated and welcomed. This is a great way to make an emotional connection with people. It’s a great way to humanize your brand as well. When you humanize your brand and connect emotionally with people it can do wonders in increasing customer patience and forgiveness in case of errors. 

When you pair this with the trust and transparency digital inspections provide, you can start creating real, effective relationships with your customers. 

What do we recommend? Something simple like a free set of basic wipers after 2 oil changes would be quite effective. Other effective loyalty programs could be doing things like offering customers a special birthday discount. This works very well with automated email campaigns. When people sign up for your newsletter, for example, you could have them input their birthday. Then once their birthday comes up you can do something like offer a complimentary car wash +a detailing discount. 

Tips on Getting New Customers Through Your Doors

The cost of acquiring new customers is usually quite expensive as well. Through marketing efforts, if you want to see a positive ROI you’ll want to make the best use of your leads as possible. Give your new customers a low barrier of entry or you’ll risk wasting your money acquiring new leads/customers. 

Give these people a valuable reason to try you out. We recommend offering all new customers a simple discounted service. Sure you may lose a little bit of money by doing this but you’d be gaining valuable data, and new customers trying out your auto shop. Think about this like if you were investing in the stock market. You’re not going to see sales climb and money falling right into your arms right away! 

When these new customers come in to do all you can to make them as comfortable as possible. On top of their discounted service, give them a comfortable place to wait. Offer them free coffee, some donuts, use your imagination! The customer is king and they need to feel like a king when they’re just trying you out for the first time. 

That’s why it’s crucial to blow customers away with digital vehicle inspections. Show them what they were missing out on with other shops. Show them pictures and video on the status of their car. Teach them a thing or two here. Show them their tire tread, the condition of the underside of the car and everything in between. Chances are they have never gotten this kind of service before. Make use of technology and really show it off to your customers. Give them a reason to return and they will.

An even better way to get more people trying you out? Let your loyal customers market for you!

Online reviews are absolutely crucial to a business’s success. More importantly, you not only want reviews, but you want GOOD reviews! Through research, we found that 86% of customers read reviews for a local business. That number goes up to 95% for younger people. We also found that the majority of these people (57%) will only consider a business if it has 4 stars or more!

With AutoServe1’s latest site reviews feature you can get positive feedback through customer’s vehicle inspection reports with ease. Your customers will be asked if they would like to give your shop a review in the inspection report. If they agree they will be taken to the shop’s Google, Facebook or Yelp review page. This will do wonders for a service center’s brand image and will without a doubt influence new people to try your business out.

When your customer gets their digital vehicle inspection full of photos, and videos explaining problem areas it’s no surprise it does wonders for customer trust. Once you establish this trust, asking for a review is just common sense. Now your customers can do this with our review feature as soon as they get their reports!

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