Even the best shop inevitably has a dry spell once or twice a year. Or perhaps you have a shop that struggles all year long to keep your technicians busy. No matter the situation, we tend to make all the classic excuses. My market is different, claim count is down, the shop down the street is also empty and so on. And then we wait. We bridge pay our technicians. We take a sudden interest in gathering Facebook followers. Maybe we even sign a fleet deal with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Gasp!
If your situation is like any of the ones I described above, there’s no need to panic. It’s as easy as A-B-C to get back on track and start making an immediate impact. Just follow these quick and easy growth solutions for Boosting Collision Shop Business.
A. Add Value to Current Customers
Let’s play a little game. Walk out into your shop right now and write down every car that has damage on it other than what you’re fixing. Go on. I’ll wait. Are there vehicles in your shop that have “prior damage” for which you have not written an estimate? Or did you write a prior damage estimate to cover your behind, but not present it to the customer?
If you answered YES to either of these questions, you’re doing a huge disservice to your customers. They’re in a rental car being paid for by the insurance company, and you haven’t offered them the convenience and cost savings of fixing their other damage while it’s there?! Not to mention you missed the first opportunity to present this offer when they were standing right in front of you. Hopefully, you see all the money that’s still on the table.
It is far more expensive and time-consuming to generate new business than it is to expand upon the work you currently have. Not that there isn’t an opportunity to do some real marketing for yourself. That’s a blog for another day.
Need help marketing your shop? Get ATI’s FREE Marketing Weapons Worksheet for guidance on how to build an effective marketing plan.
B. Be Bold – Ask for the Business
Wayne Gretsky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” You might be asking, what does that have to do with my shop? If people go to your shop for an estimate and are most likely to leave without an appointment, it may have something to do with your approach. Odds are, your conversion rates are in the toilet.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you write the estimate, give them a price and then stare blankly while you wait for them to know what to do next. Maybe you even make a halfhearted effort and say, “Sooo, what do you think?” Of course, what the customer usually says next is “not right now, I’m still getting estimates, I need to think about it, or I need to talk to my wife (or dad, sister, cousin, etc.) who is out of town for the next month.”
The reality is they’re probably making excuses to spare your feelings. It also means they didn’t see value in scheduling an appointment with you because you didn’t convince them that your shop was the best, most logical option. You gave them no choice but to walk out the door. They don’t know what to do next, and they’re not going to stand in front of you while they figure it out.
Don’t let customers walk away – ask them to drop their car off. You’re the expert. Get actively engaged in the selling process. Get over the fear of rejection and tell them what the next steps are. What’s the worst that can happen? They could say no. That’s great! “No” is an opportunity because a real reason usually follows it. Since you’re the expert and you now have the real reason on the table, you will, of course, have a simple solution for their concern, and then you can get back to the matter at hand –dropping off or scheduling to drop off.
Customer: “I’m considering making a claim so I’ll need to call my insurance company first.”
You: “No problem. I know how difficult that can be, so why don’t I help you right now and then we can keep you moving forward.”
I hope you’re now realizing you are in sales. Tap into your inner Gretzky when the opportunity presents itself and watch what happens to your conversions rates. Take the Shot.
C. Compete Fiercely Online
I’ve been on my smartphone a whopping 27 hours in the last week, and that’s well below average. What’s my point? You MUST meet people where they’re at –and where they’re at is on the internet. According to a study by Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. So, you better believe potential customers are researching your shop even if they’ve gotten a referral from their insurance company.
Without even knowing who or where you are, I bet I can guess what is on your website, assuming you have one. I bet it says that you’ve been in business from some number of decades, you provide a lifetime guarantee, you’re I-Car certified, ASE Certified, and you have experienced technicians who are going to do a quality job quickly. Do I have that about right?
Let me tell you how I know that. It’s because every single one of your competitors’ sites says the same thing. What would I do if I were a customer and there was no discernable difference between you and the next shop? I would just go with whichever shop the insurance company recommended. Simply informing people that they have a right to choose is not going to make some light bulb go on over their heads and make them choose you.
According to a Forbes article on web design and branding, 64% of consumers say that shared values help them create a trusted relationship with a brand. This means that consumers – particularly those in younger generations – want to know what your business stands for, or the “why” motivation for existing. Sit down with your teams to determine your shop’s value proposition, figure out what is truly unique and special about your shop and what separates you from your competitors. Use this information to define your brand and then make sure everything you do after that aligns accordingly. See your business through the customers’ eyes and not your own.
Get Started Today!
Whether you’re going through a dry spell or not, I challenge you to make the above tips a regular part of your sales and marketing strategy. Chances are, if you are not already doing them, you’re leaving money on the table. Don’t wait for the dry spell to inspire you to get started. Always maximize every opportunity to sell and close the deal.