It’s pretty simple finding an Auto Shop these days; no more looking through the Yellow Pages or asking family or friends to find the phone number of ‘their guy’ in an over-flowing business card drawer. Now, with a few key taps or swipe of a finger, consumers are not only able to locate repair shops, but also schedule an appointment at their convenience.
Here are a few tips to consider when setting up online appointments for your shop:
1. Find a service or system that is comfortable and easy for you to use.
Firstly, you can have a service like Demandforce (http://www.demandforce.com/industries/automotive/) incorporate an online booking feature on your website. If you have a WordPress site, you can do it on your own by downloading plug-ins such as BirchPress Scheduler. In addition, creating a basic e-mail form can also work to request a schedule time. Make sure you have attention drawn to the call-to-action button; perhaps using a graphic or flashing button will be effective in catching their eye.
2. Decide the time slots to be made available to online booking customers and information that is necessary for the appointment.
Have online appointment slots for times when your shop is slower. For example, just after the morning rush and before the afternoon rush. Make sure you have enough time to service all of your customers as best as possible to keep them coming back.
Keep information needed at the time of booking simple: Name, Contact info, Make/Model and a general reason why they are bringing in their car. You can use drop-down boxes with appropriate fields for both car make/model and reason for appointment. Larger repairs may require phone conversations with the customer to determine a more accurate length of time needed to complete the job.
3. Set-up an auto-response email or text message.
Have the customer receive a message letting them know that their information was sent and that an employee will be in touch with them. Try to bring that personal connection back, even though it is through email or text. Also invite them to keep in touch and interact with your shop on social media with you.
4. Assign a person in the shop to manage the system and respond to customers
It could be a service advisor, front-office staff member or even an owner. It is important that someone confirms all appointments made through the online system. For example, if the appointment is made during regular business hours, you should have someone respond soon after. If the appointment is made at night, confirming should be one of your first priorities in the morning. Having someone designated to handle the online appointment books will make the process smoother and more efficient.