Service AdvisoirSome time ago we produced a video about what automotive center owners and operators wished their customers knew.  I imagine that some of these items are on your list as well.

  • You care for your customers.  You’re concerned about their safety, you want their vehicles to run well and you’re mindful of their budget.
  • It’s hard to fix cars.  Mechanical and electronic sophistication grows exponentially and it takes a huge commitment to on-going training and updating tools and diagnostic equipment to keep up.  Time and training to keep current contribute significantly to overhead.
  • Speaking of overhead, you’re running a business that has all of the usual overhead costs that go hand-in-hand with any business operation.  Customers can get thinking “parts and labor” and forget the rest.  I like the restaurant analogy: You don’t value your meal by what the food would cost at the grocery store.  The restaurant has rent, wages, insurance, taxes, utilities, professional fees, equipment, supplies – you get the picture.  The restaurant has to charge enough to not only pay for the ingredients, but for all these other things as well – and make enough profit to remain in business.  If you enjoy the meal and are satisfied with your dining experience, you’ll come back and tell your friends.  It’s the same for your facility.  The value of your service is not the cost of the parts you install, but in your customers’ satisfaction with the results.  If your customers feel that you deliver a good product at a fair price, they’ll be happy to see you succeed as a business.
  • This one may also fall in the category of things you wish your technicians knew: you would rather see your customer come in several times a year for routine maintenance than every few years on a tow hook.   Big ticket repairs are always welcome, but you will probably make as much from scheduled maintenance and minor repairs uncovered in a courtesy inspection as you will from one breakdown.  Plus, your revenue stream will be more steady and predictable.  Of course, your customer will save money in the long run and your relationship will be much more solid and trusting.
  • A professional image is usually among the top three concerns of service and repair operations.  I can’t overemphasize the importance of having everything your customers see and touch, and every interaction they have with the team convey a well thought out, polished (practiced) professional approach to complete customer satisfaction.
  • And you may want your customers to know that behind that professional image are real people with families, interests, community commitments and so on.  Let your customers know about the teams you sponsor, invite them to participate with you in food drives or Toys for Tots.  Use your lobby, website and social media efforts to help spread the word.
  • And by all means, let your customers know you value their referrals.  Referrals keep your marketing costs low so you can afford to reward your customers for sending their friends and family your way.

So once you’ve got your list, how do you go about communicating it to customers?  I suggest writing out a couple of short “elevator” speeches on each topic – maybe 10 to 30 seconds long.  These little speeches can be practiced by the team members and used at appropriate touch points during the customer experience (i.e. ask for referrals after you’ve explained your warranty when cashing out).  A rule of thumb: 30 words take about 10 seconds to say.

More and more automotive centers are turning to digital signage and digital menu boards for their lobbies and other areas to help get out their value proposition.

The better your customers understand you and your business, the more they will appreciate what you do and the higher they’ll value your relationship.

Lance Boldt is V.P. and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV Media, Inc., creators of lobby TV (including digital signage applications), website video and point-of-sale video tools that educate and motivate people to take better care of their vehicles. AutoNetTV