In any mechanical workshop, profitability is helped by getting your Labour to work as many hours as they are paid and making sure that these hours are billable hours, by that I mean, that they can be charged directly to the customer and recovered in full.
To help bill more hours you need to know your customer well.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to collect data and store it in some type of database.
Originally databases were simple pads, notebooks or 3 x 5 cards and details such as Name, Address and details of the vehicle were all that was needed.
But in today’s high tech world where the customer is viewed as King or Queen, it is vital that workshops not just collect as much information about their customers’ needs but also to have the ability to analyze this information.
Databases nowadays have moved from simple notebooks and 3 x 5 cards to software packages like Act and Goldmine with even more sophisticated programs being custom built in SQL and Microsoft Access.
So what does this mean to the average Automotive Repairer?
Well lots, if you don’t know your customer, you cannot anticipate their needs!
If you can’t anticipate their needs, then you will not be at the Top of Their Mind when they have a need to think about their car.
Being Top of Mind is about collecting and analyzing the right data so that you are able to put an action plan together – a ‘Marketing’ Action Plan.
Given the reliability of vehicles and the continuing reduction in operating costs surrounding vehicle ownership, it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain a business based on Parts Failure or Vehicle Breakdown.
Even the move towards building a business based on vehicle servicing is now less viable, given the length of time now recommended by manufacturers between services.
And when this is coupled to the relative cheapness of vehicle ownership in real dollar terms, it is obvious that being in business today is not about just repair and maintenance it is about – the relationship.
Now I hear you asking “ok, so what information do I need to collect and how do I use it?”
Grab a pen and let me suggest some automotive marketing ideas:
Their First and Surname separated so that you can personalize their letters or any mail merges that you wish to send
Their vehicle make, model and registration number so that you can mail them any articles that relate to their vehicle, perhaps a vehicle safety recall, or advise them about any valuations that they may have asked for as they may have been thinking of trading in their vehicle.
Perhaps you can collect the date that their Registration sticker expires. Post them a reminder say three weeks before it expires and include the address of their nearest Licensing Center. Or you could advise any BPay or Direct Credit facilities that the Government Department has.
You could also collect the name of their spouse and find out if he or she owns a car. You’re obviously looking at ways that you can get this other car in for servicing as well.
What about storing the year, make and model and getting a quote for insurance.
Write to them a few weeks away from when you want to get their car back for servicing and give them a range of insurers and some indicative quotes. Naturally you would do well to confirm their age and no claim bonus track record and any relevant history, if that is at all possible.
So, as you can see. There is more to getting to know your customer than just saying “Hi, how ya doing?”
Well, till next time remember that “The Power of an Idea is in its Implementation”. It is no good just listening to these ideas. It is about applying them.
If you are getting the same results year after year, then consider getting a coach or meet with your accountant on a regular basis.
Currently I work with clients across Australia, in the UK and in the USA. So distance should not be viewed as a barrier.
The most important thing about your business adviser is that they help you – get your business to its next level.
If this means that they are demanding then view this as a good sign, if they are pushy then again this is a good sign.
Before I go, ask yourself two questions:
1. “Could my business be more profitable?” and if the answer is Yes, then the second question is
2. “What do I need to do to get it there?”.
If you want to know about the Business Doctor or the automotive marketing solutions and coaching that I provide please visit my website and hear what some of my clients say about what it is that they have gotten from engaging a business coach.
So, till next time – I wish you all the success that you can handle whilst holding a genuine smile.