Another year is winding down. We all have a lot of tasks to complete before the holidays and some of us are even making resolutions for the new year. Whether we keep them or not is another story.
One business imperative you can’t afford to overlook is the effort you make in retaining customers. The volume and conviction of your customer base will determine your future success. Without committed customers, and the evolving service work their vehicles bring, you won’t have the wherewithal to invest in your business, such as buying new equipment, training your techs, enhancing your shop, creating marketing campaigns, etc.
Customer retention efforts run the gamut from simple postcard reminders to full-blown marketing campaigns, depending on shop and budget size.
We recently polled ImportCar readers to get their input on this important subject. We asked them to describe their shop’s customer service practices that have been successful in retaining customers.
Some efforts are very simple, “back-to-the-basics” commitments, like honesty, quality repairs, fixing the vehicle right the first time, using quality parts to achieve repairs, completing the job when promised, explaining why repairs are necessary and personal communication. Our readers’ responses also included: politeness, friendliness, thank them for their business, being courteous, treat customers as you want to be treated, listening, employ an enthusiastic, friendly staff and offer personalized service.
Other gestures are more tangible, like sending thank-you notes after repairs are performed, mailing service reminder postcards and issuing a customer newsletter with service coupons.
Yet, some readers are taking customer service to the next level by doing something customers don’t expect. They are things that cost the shop relatively little to implement, but have a positive, lasting impact with customers.
One reader, for example, sends out a four-pack of specially priced oil change cards. Another offers local shuttle service. And another says he “tries to do one thing [during each repair] that the customer did not ask for, because it’s the little things that really count.” Some examples include eliminating a door squeak or resetting the clock to the correct time.
Overall, the most successful efforts to deliver customer service and retain customers involve honesty, open communication, personalized service and paying attention to the details. That’s not asking too much, is it?