If I ask you what’s the most valuable tool in your auto repair shop, would your answer be the telephone? Would the word telephone even come to mind? If not, it should – but for most, it doesn’t. As a shop owner, one of your top priorities is keeping your techs busy and your bays full. One of the best ways to do this starts at your front counter with a phone call.
Even with today’s technology offering many ways to message (i.e., social media, website, text), telephone calls are still the number one way customers and prospects contact auto repair shops. It is arguably the most important touchpoint, so handling these calls properly will inevitably pay off. Below are quick tips to get more appointments over the phone.
When people call your shop, this your opportunity to make a great first impression or continue to build an existing customer relationship. You can easily convert these calls to appoints with these 3 tips:
1. Answer quickly, clearly and professionally
Your front counter team should answer within 3 rings, have a scripted greeting, and speak clearly so the person calling never has to ask them to repeat it. If your front counter is rushing through “ABC Auto” and nothing more, mumbling, or putting people on hold regularly, the impression given is that your shop is too busy and the caller is unimportant.
2. Build rapport immediately
Friendliness is the secret sauce here. Smile when you answer the phone, believe it or not – people can hear it. Ask for their name and use it in the conversation. Ask inquisitive questions and show you care. Let them know about your warranty, shuttle service and/or loaner cars as well. This builds value and says to potential customers that customer service is a priority.
3. ASK for an appointment
This is the #1 question that gets missed. Offer a specific day and time for drop off, ask if that works for them, and get their contact info. If you’ve done a good job with Tip #2, they will most likely agree to an appointment.
BONUS TIP: Stagger appointment times so you don’t have multiple people waiting to be checked-in.
Want more tips for how to increase appointments, improve your bottom-line, and grow your business? Discover valuable, easy-to-implement ideas and strategies in ATI’s shop owner events. Register today at atievent.com.
Ongoing communication is a vital part of great customer service. In addition to addressing incoming calls properly, you should be reaching out to your customers regularly. Doing so can also lead to more appointments. Here are the top 3 outgoing calls you should be making daily:
1. Service Updates
When a customer drops off their car, don’t just give them a general idea of when their vehicle will be ready for pick-up. Set a specific time to call with a progress update, especially if you’re not able to meet the expectation you set. This is another opportunity to build relationships and trust. During the call, offer loaner cars or to arrange a rental if needed. Being proactive will dramatically cut down on the number of incoming calls checking up on their vehicles and increase the chance of repeat business.
2. Declined Recommendations
Call customers 2-3 weeks later to check on the vehicle and remind them of recommendations. This helps bring auto repair and maintenance back to being a priority. If it’s important enough for you to follow up, it’s important enough for them to take care of it. This is also another opportunity to educate them on why certain recommendations were made and how they will result in increased safety, reliability and longevity of their vehicle.
BONUS TIP: ASK for an appointment.
3. Appointment Reminders
Take it from your dentist and doctor. Whether you do it via phone call, text message or email message, you should provide a reminder at least 24 hours in advance. Include your contact info and how much you look forward to serving them. A no-show (2 hours after the appointment time) should be called to reschedule. If they say they got the work done elsewhere or it is no longer a priority, sharing your concerns and asking what you could do differently, keeps the door open for future appointments.
For more tips on how to grow your business, join one of ATI’s shop owner events. At ATI, we help our members identify what is holding their auto shop back from the level of success they want to achieve. We offer proven methods and best practices (like these telephone tips) to get maximum performance results.