The Best Kept Secret To Increasing Your Car Count

Are you frustrated by the decrease in car count that came with your increase in Google AdWords? Does it feel like you’re flushing money down the drain with each marketing campaign?

In his book titled, Sticky Church, Larry Osborne communicates a similar frustration.

Osborne is a church pastor who struggled to grow his membership. Back in 1980, he had a congregation consisting of 128 members.

He had this habit of tracking who came in through the front door. On a given Sunday 10 new members would come through and join.

Simple math would suggest that his new membership total would have grown to 138 right? WRONG.

In spite of the 10 coming through the front door, his member count was declining.

Let’s fast forward to today. Osborne’s church now has 9,000 members and he doesn’t spend any money on marketing or advertising!

How is this possible? The following answer will reveal the best-kept secret to increasing your car count: He closed the back door!   

Is Your Back Door Open?

Is the back door open at your shop? Here is a scenario to help you decide: Let’s say your initial weekly car count average is 30.

You then invest in Google AdWords which brings you 5 new customers per week through the front door.

This should improve your car count average to 35 right? For most shops, the answer is NO.

If your marketing attracts 5 new customers, who never return for their 2nd visit, these customers have left you through the back door.

When it comes to car count improvement, you won’t experience more, until you close the back door. Keep reading to discover what you can do to experience more. 

Implement a Tracking System

The common denominator of performance improvement is tracking. For example, if you want to improve your fitness levels, you start tracking your weight.

If you want to improve your personal finances, you start tracking your expenses. If you want to improve your gross profit, you start tracking your portal data. (Hint, Hint)

The bottom line is that you can’t move what you’re not measuring.

Therefore, if you’re looking to move your car count, you would start by tracking your back door. 

The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a Visit Frequency Report. The report will tell you what percentage of your customers have made only one visit during the last twelve months. This is known as your one-time visit frequency percentage.

Shops that are retaining customers at a best practice level have a one-time visit frequency percentage in the 32% range. They have closed the back door.

If 50% or more of your customers have only visited your shop one time in the last 12 months, your back door is wide open!

Now that you have implemented a tracking system, you’re ready for the next step.

Ask the Right Questions

Back when I was a new district manager, there was a popular study floating around the automotive service industry that highlighted the reasons customers don’t return to do business with a particular shop.

According to this study, 1% pass away, 3% move, 14% are lured away by a competitor, 14% are dissatisfied with the product/service, and 68% leave because of an attitude of indifference displayed by the service provider. 

I scheduled a managers meeting with my team to hammer these points home. In an effort to review the study and get to the “attitude of indifference” point, I started by asking,

“What percentage of your customers will pass away?” One of my managers raised his hand, and  replied, “100% will eventually pass away!”

After the laughter died down, I realized that I didn’t get the answer I was looking for because I asked the wrong question. 

As you attempt to close your backdoor, it’s critical that you review your frequency report and ask those customers you haven’t seen, the right questions, to determine what’s keeping them away.

Pay special attention to your buyers who have made at least 3 visits in the previous 18 months, but no visits in the last 6 months. These are known as your cheaters.

Sending your “cheater” a marketing mailer is good, but calling is even better. When you call, be sure to ask what’s keeping them away and what you can do to earn their future business. 

Asking the right questions and using their answers as feedback to improve your business, will help you to close the backdoor.


So, there you have it. Larry Osborne was able to grow his member count from 128 to 9,000 without using an expensive Google AdWords campaign.

Instead, he implemented a tracking system to measure how many of his members were leaving, and he asked them the right questions to learn what he could do to make his church “a sticky church.”

If you take these steps you will close the back door, which is the best-kept secret to increasing your car count.

P.S. Email etwigss@autotraining.net to receive a script to help you ask the right questions when calling your cheaters.