7 Winning Auto Service Retention Strategies
While bringing in new clients through marketing is important, auto service retention strategies should take a front seat in your business plan. We all know it’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones, so here are some tips for making your shop a place customers want to come back to!
1. Add Them To Your Shop’s List of Customer Emails
You brought in the new customer — great work! It’s time to keep in touch, and there’s no better platform than email. 91 percent of people check their email every day, so emailing them after visiting your shop is a surefire way to let them know about future offers that will bring them back in your doors.
Get the email address of every new customer during your transaction with them (or train desk staff to do so) and keep the address where you can easily access it later. With technology, it’s also easy to connect your CRM or shop management system to your email platform. This way, your customer contacts can automatically move into the email platform, making it easier to send them emails.
2. Get Customer Feedback
There’s a ton of questions you could pose to new clients about their experience at your auto shop, but let’s stick to the basic ones that will tell you if customers are enjoying their interactions with your business.
- Is the customer happy with the job overall?
- Did your team finish their repair order in a timely manner?
… And many others. These questions could get more specific, depending on your services and individual business processes. You can solicit these customer opinions through a survey sent out via email, so strategy No. 1 on this list is already positioned to pay off for you!
Not only is this information actionable — you can immediately correct a misstep in the process of taking care of customers, or do more of something that customers are saying they loved — but it shows the people trusting you with their cars that you really care about what they think.
Our team has developed some great surveys for our customers so if you need help, please contact us.
3. Bring Them Back Through Incentives
Enticing customers to get more auto work done with your company means channeling your inner Godfather (perhaps with less bloodshed, but your call as shop boss). A coupon, discount or free service of some sort will do the trick. Making them a repeat customer through great auto service deals solidifies the relationship and helps them see how much you want to bring them back to your shop.
There’s a fine balance between running good customer incentives and handing out too much for free, so watch out not to give away everything but the kitchen sink.
4. Give them alternate ways to reach you.
Customers expect responses to their inquiries to your business and fast.
According to recent customer loyalty surveys by Podium, a company Conceptual Minds partners with to improve our clients’ customer interactions on Google, 84% of customers expect a business to respond to their inquiry within minutes—not hours.
One way to meet this expectation for quick turnaround is through text messaging your customers. We can help you access a Google-backed messaging tool at an exclusive rate.
5. Get Them To Review You Publicly (And Don’t Fear What They’ll Say)
Ask customers to share their honest feedback about your shop in a review on highly used platforms like Google and Facebook — don’t worry, the majority of reviews online are positive in nature. These reviews give your happy clients an outlet for singing your praises while giving potential customers a glimpse of what it’s like to do business with you.
(When it comes to Yelp, we definitely recommend monitoring and responding to reviews, but strongly advise against asking customers to review you on Yelp. Learn more here.)
Soliciting reviews for auto service retention will create a positive online image for your shop. Today, 84 percent of people pay online reviews the same respect that they would a recommendation from trusted family and friends (Podium). Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth — use this to your advantage!
6. Start a Customer Rewards Program
People love to get bonus dollars for already doing business with a company. Why not play upon this and offer customer rewards?
Studies show that 25 percent of people think that loyalty programs are “very important,” and another 25 percent think they’re “somewhat important” — that’s half of your consumer base putting a value on loyalty programs.
While you may not be able to always offer lower prices as compared to larger companies, you can appeal to that half of your consumer base and its penchant for rewards by creating in-store specials or even partnering with other local businesses to offer discounts on products to customers who do frequent your shop (and the other companies participating in your program). Win-win for local business!
7. Aim for Awesome Customer Experiences
… Every time. There are plenty of other auto shops out there for them to pick from, but a positive experience is why people will return to you.
Teach your team to always be looking for ways to make customers say, “Wow, they really took care of me,” every time they’re leaving your parking lot.
Make this idea a reality by creating a customer experience checklist that your team references to ensure that Joe Blow gets the same consistent and amazing experience every time he drives his car up to your shop.
Get creative with ways to make every visit to your shop unique a satisfying one, and you’ll have no problem keeping your auto service retention strategy revved all year long.
Some ways to make your customers’ wait comfortable and less boring include:
- Giving them something to eat/drink. A way to a person’s heart is sometimes through their stomach. A cool water bottle on a hot summer day, healthy choices like bananas and granola bars, or cold brew instead of mediocre coffee can all go a long way. (We hear cold brew is all the rage with one of our auto service clients’ customers.)
- Placing comfortable furniture in your waiting area, instead of the same old hard chairs.
- Making it easy to charge their phones while they wait. People love power — that is, for their cell battery. Place a charging station in an easy-to-reach place and help that busy dad who forgot to charge his phone this morning de-stress a bit.
- Putting up a good quality TV that has access to something they’ll want to watch.
- Provide a free Uber ride or in-house concierge service if they need to get back to home or work while you service their vehicle.
Outside of the waiting area, your customers are wanting to feel like you’re looking out for their best interests when it comes to their vehicle.
Consider giving them a digital inspection report that goes beyond the average follow-up of “You’ll need new tires soon.” This is the age of information at people’s fingertips. If you give your customers as much knowledge as possible about what’s happening with their car in a report that goes directly to their email and includes easy-to-understand graphics and videos about car maintenance, you’ll win above local competitors who are merely handing their customers a slip of paper and asking them when they’ll come back for the repair they still understand little about.
Conclusion about Auto Service Retention
It’s totally within your ability to help your auto shop’s bottom line and local rep by creating an environment where your customers look forward to their next visit with you. Leave us a comment if you address your own auto service retention in ways we haven’t mentioned here!
If you want to give these ideas a try but are feeling overwhelmed, our agency has helped many clients create better customer experiences that pay out in the long-term.