Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Million Dollar Secret to Attracting Millennial Customers

“Your smile is your logo. Your personality is your business card. How you leave others feeling after an experience with you, is your trademark.”Jay Danzie

What’s the secret to attracting millennial customers? As I reflect on this question, I am reminded of my local dry cleaner. They are the most expensive cleaners in my town and I drive past several other locations who provide the same service at a lower price. Thanks to technology, I have the option to use other virtual cleaning companies where I would push a button on my smartphone and have my clothes serviced and funds transferred without any human interaction.

So why do I continue to give them my business? It’s because of the memorable experience they provide.

There have been times where I pulled up to their parking lot and answered an urgent mobile phonecall. While still in the car, they bring my clothes out and take my credit card info while I’m sitting there! They will stay after closing hours to wait for me if I am stuck in traffic, refusing to take payment until my next visit.

After I drop my clothes off, the manager always goes out to the car to say hello to my wife and kids who are waiting behind in the vehicle. I know what you’re thinking: “Great story Eric, but what does this have to do with attracting millennials?”

It has everything to do with attracting millennials because of their desire for an experiential retail environment instead of one that’s just transaction-based. A Forbes Magazine survey of millennials concluded that 78% of the respondents preferred spending money on an experience over just buying something they desire.

In other words, delivering a memorable experience is the million dollar secret to attracting more millennials. Keep reading and you will learn two strategies to maximize the million dollar secret.

Ideas to grow your businessAre you creating memorable experiences for your Millenial customers? Discover valuable, easy-to-implement tips and strategies in ATI’s shop owner events. Register today at

Track Your Unsolicited Referrals

When you deliver a memorable experience, referrals are a natural outcome. According to research conducted by automotive industry consultant Dave Anderson, a customer who is “wowed” is three times more likely to refer you than one who is merely satisfied. The amount of unsolicited referrals you receive is a key measurement of the experience level.

I recommend creating a separate line in your management system to track the number of unsolicited referrals you get. The customers who were referred by someone you asked will show up at your counter with their “referred by” card in hand. Any referred consumer who doesn’t have the card would be tracked separately. A growing number of unsolicited referrals is a sure sign of a memorable experience.

This is important because millennials place a higher level of trust in the information received from their social media networks and from conversations with friends than they do traditional advertising methods. Word of mouth from their peers who received a memorable experience will have a greater impact on millennial buying decisions than your customer referral bonus strategy.

Adapt to Their Lifestyle

Studies show that the typical millennial spends an average of 24 hours per week on mobile internet platforms. They take videos, share photos, and engage on social media. Millennials tend to be civic-minded and are drawn to businesses that demonstrate a passion for social causes. Providing an experience that is aligned with their habits is key to attracting and keeping them as customers.

Investing in a tablet-based courtesy check system is a good place to start. The ability to send photos and text messages will appeal to this group. Having a strong presence on social media is critical as well. The social media platforms give you an opportunity to reach them where they are and share what you’re doing to impact your community.

For example, several shops have run a Facebook promotion where they donate a canned food item to their local food bank for every new “Like” they receive on their Facebook page. Others have used Instagram during the holidays to share their “Toys for Tots” campaign, giving the customer the opportunity to bring in a toy to support the less fortunate on their next visit.

Providing modern in-store technology, along with community-based social media content, is an effective way to adapt to the millennial lifestyle.


Tracking your unsolicited referrals and adapting to their lifestyle will allow you to attract and keep millennial customers. This blog is an example of an unsolicited referral I provided for my local dry cleaners. Does the experience at your shop motivate your customers to blog about you?

At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

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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.