The Shop of Tomorrow addresses the bigger vehicle ownership experience.
The shop is but just one part of the vehicle ownership experience. Auto manufacturers have done an excellent job building their brands around lifestyle. People choose Hondas and Toyotas for practicality and reliability. People choose Fords and Chevy because of their patriotism and belief in American engineering excellence. Whatever your motivation, there is an emotional draw. However, this emotional experience applies to both consumers and fleets. There was a choice made, likely based on some numbers but also a gut feel that says: This Ford 1/2 ton is stronger than any Chevy. That may or may not be true, but the next step for auto repair shops, the Shop of Tomorrow, is to capture the heart of vehicle owners thru a customized Vehicle Repair Experience.
The question is how does a local shop, a dealership, or a franchise capture the hearts of their customers? The easy answer is loyalty. That's a tall order, as anyone in the repair business will tell you. It takes work, a shift in culture and a relentless pursuit of serving the customers best interests.
So how do you build loyalty and a better repair experience?
The answer is through: convenience, trust, transparency and education. All of a sudden, this is becoming not just a tall order, but somewhat impossible; unless you incorporate technology into your business. Automated methods of relevant communication (there is a key word in that sentence) can take you from being just a shop sending out a newsletter to a shop that is a trusted consultant. Let's take a deeper look, in backwards order (there is a reason why):
When you educate your customers, you build an informed customer. They ask better questions and you reduce the level of anxiety they have when making a decision. When you go and buy a computer or TV online, that little compare button allows you to educate yourself as to the specifications of each model. Your education has allowed you to make an informed and confident choice.
Educate your customers and it facilitates their making a decision.
Show them what you are doing. When you first started turning wrenches, let's say you were watching your father change the oil on the family station wagon. You didn't know where to start, what to touch or how to start. Your dad said..."use the 5/8ths inch wrench over there, and put it around this bolt here. That will allow you to open up the oil plug". In those two sentences, he has told you why, how and the result. I bet you turned that wrench a moment later (hopefully without oil all over the driveway). The point is that simple explanation built an immediate rapport between you and your father. It was transparent.
Transparency is the key to building a truthful dialogue
Defined trust basically means someone believes what you are telling them and any future statements you make to them. If your dad told you just before you loosened that oil plug, "Watch how fast you unscrew that nut, or it will spill on you". He just told you the future. You happened to unscrew it too fast and he was right. He educated you, he told you how and why to do something and told you what would happen next. Did you trust him next time? Yes. Building trust in a shop is about making statements that show you can either anticipate their future need or predict what will likely happen next. Wait that's exactly what most every customer comes to you for in the first place.
Trust can be built by showing customers that you know what you are talking about
Make it easy for them to get your advice. Providing smartphone apps, text messages and customized emails makes it easy for them to get your advice. Tell them when to schedule their next appointment and what will happen and why. They don't have to take the time to schedule a time, you have done it for them. Would you ever go to the dentist if they didn't? Probably not. Most people I know don't look forward to that visit. Take the work out of being our customer. Make it an easy experience. How many times have you walked in to a store, found what you wanted and checked out inside of 2 minutes? Now THAT would be convenient. Do the same for your customers. Make sure they get information about service orders and repairs in an easy way.
Convenience is all about easy. If they have to think about how to get your number, it is not convenient. technology can help solve that.
Use technology for a win-win relationship
So the crux of this article is how to build a better vehicle ownership experience. Your customers can enjoy a better vehicle ownership experience thru the automation of your education, transparency and trust building. You just have to make it convenient.
CAARMO, Inc. is the leading Service Center solution for building convenience, trust, transparency through education. From our location in Washington, DC, we are building a network of the best shops across America and the world for a better vehicle ownership experience.
June 9th, 2015