Auto Shop Coaching Blog

A “Key” to Your Success

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”The Eagles, (Already Gone)

As I reflect on the lyrics from the song “Already Gone,” I’m reminded of a retired dentist I read about named Jack who started a consulting business in the midwest. His clients blamed their declining sales on external factors like the area’s high unemployment rate and low median income.

Jack had a unique business model that separated him from his competition. He only offered one service to the struggling dentists he called on.

Jack would contact all of their inactive customers who hadn’t visited the office in twelve months or longer. For payment, all he required from the dentists was 5% of the sales resulting from his follow up calls. This was surely a one-sided deal in favor of his clients, right? Wrong!

Jack made more money in his new venture than he ever did as a dentist, proving once again that the fortune is in the follow-up. His clients were living their lives bound by the chains of low profit, not realizing they had the key to unlock themselves!

Is there a retired shop owner out there who could come to your shop and make a fortune off your failure to follow-up? Stay with me and you learn two ways to make follow-up the key to your success.   

Ideas to grow your businessWant more tips for how to get back to the basics and keep thriving during COVID-19? Discover valuable ideas and strategies in ATI’s free webinar Beyond COVID—Restoring Confidence, Car Count & Cash Flow.

Personalize Your Contact Methods

According to the American Marketing Association, 68% of all business is lost due to a lack of follow up after the initial sale. While it’s easy to use technology with every customer to automate this process, the key is to personalize your contact methods based on individual preference.

Interview your clientele to determine how they prefer to be contacted. For example, let’s say your customer wants to be contacted about her next appointment via phone call. Sending her a text message may be convenient, but it will be costly to your bottom line when she doesn’t respond.

The average customer receives up to 5,000 marketing messages per day when you factor in television, radio, email, phone calls, and text messages. Following up on your terms instead of your consumer’s terms will increase the chances of your message getting lost.

Prepare a Phone Log

The phone log is one of the most under-utilized follow-up tools at your disposal. Most shops use it to track the percentage of customers who make an appointment. It can also be used to follow up with those who made an appointment but never showed up.

The first step to phone log follow-up is getting the name and phone number on every incoming call. I recommend asking during the beginning of the conversation, explaining that you need it in case you get disconnected.

Next, you would create a binder where you file the weekly phone log data. Having a file will help you to monitor and measure the number of appointment “no show’s” you get each week. A consistently high number would prompt you to address your service writer’s phone skills. Since you can’t fix what you aren’t aware of, filing the phone log is a critical step.

Lastly, you would call the prospects who didn’t come in as scheduled. Did they have the work done at another shop?  Was there a hidden objection that was never addressed? Even if they don’t come in, you can get valuable feedback to make you better on future phone calls.


Personalizing your contact methods, and preparing a phone log will keep you from having a customer count that’s already gone! Follow-up is the key to your success. 

For more tips on protecting your business, staff, and customers during these challenging times, check out our free webinar Beyond COVID—Restoring Confidence, Car Count & Cash Flow.

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.