One of our PRO customers has recently become an amazing case study on how expanding into text messaging can generate more business for a shop. Below, we’ll overview what this shop owner did to secure a spot on top of the minds of their current and potential customers using an SMS service.
What is SMS?
First of all, let’s start at square one.
For those unfamiliar with the term, SMS stands for “Short Message Service.” Via a SMS, you can send up to 160 characters to another device using their phone number. Longer messages will automatically be split up into several parts. Most cell phones support SMS natively these days, while the smarter ones won’t even limit the character lengths.
SMS for Business
There are a few ways that a repair shop can utilize text messaging to support customer communications. The first step is to sign up for a text messaging service. There are a few reasons you’d want to subscribe to a service to carry this out:
- To trigger automatic messages (whereas you don’t have to type it out every time)
- One-to-many broadcasts (example: your shop has to close due to inclement weather and you’d like to let current customers know)
While there are dozens of great SMS services out there for businesses, we recommend our friends at Call Loop. Call Loop offers an easy-to-use dashboard (a lot like our quoting portal) so that proprietors can quickly configure their settings and issue broadcasts from one centralized location.
What Does It Cost?
Using Call Loop as an example, there are two different kinds of expenses to look out for. The first is the subscription fee to gain access to the service itself. This runs anywhere from free (with limited customer counts and functionality) to hundreds of dollars per month.
Once you getting started, the subscription fee should be next to nothing. Only when you grow your SMS customer base will you have to pay for access. But at that point, all those customers should be more than paying for the service!
The other type of cost is a per message fee. I’ve seen these span from $0.01 to $0.10 per message. Call Loop, for example, has additional “credits” priced at around $0.04 per message. The good thing about Call Loop is that they give you free credits to send messages when you pay as a subscriber.
Either way you look at it, signing up to start sending SMS messages can be well worth the minimal investment.
Some Shops Cannot Live Without SMS
“I swear it’s increased productivity drastically. I can’t say enough good about it. I started sending messages and I will never go back to not doing it. It frees up so much time.”
This quote came from our customer excitedly mentioning how automated customer alerts has made their shop more efficient as a whole.
How It Impacts Business
SMS is known to yield higher response rates. This means that rather than calling, or even emailing, a customer is going to look at their phone to check an SMS quicker and without fail. After all, their phone is always with them.
So when it comes to closing a project or tracking down a direct response from a customer, sending an SMS can be the golden ticket to more engagement.
Better yet, SMS breaks down the barriers of traditional communication between a business and a customer. These messaging tools allow for two-way communication. This means that if a customer responds, or addresses your shop with a question of his own, you can respond to it manually to continue the conversation.
What better way to not be tied up making phone calls all day!
Sending Automated Messages
According to publicly available SMS metrics, it’s a common occurrence for a business to receive a payment authorization large purchase orders via a text. For a shop, this could mean a $1,000+ repair project. A simple “yes” is a binding interaction from the customer allowing you to start the work.
When you think about the power of this, you begin to wonder how it can all be set up and optimized. A tool like Call Loop can connect directly to your internal systems to send out reminders, repeat messages, and automated human-like questions at certain times.
Taking that a step further, SMS can be an extremely powerful tool for transactional correspondences. A message saying:
“Your vehicle is now ready for pickup.”
… is an easy way to keep the customer in the know automatically. Ideally, a customer will receive that message, stop by the shop, grab the car, and drive off – making room for your next customer.
The higher turnover that can be created from the efficiency of sending text messages makes it a worthwhile in and of itself.
Proving an ROI
Considering our customer shop’s labor rate that’s $100 an hour, the cost – in repair authorization wait time – for a 6-minute reply costs the shop $12.20 as compared to more than $150 for the 1 hour and 17 minute average response time for customers who are called regarding necessary repairs. The research that we’ve conducted has shown that shops implementing texting communication receive responses in 30 minutes or less on average.
Following the Rules
The last thing you’ll want to do as you get started is send customers that don’t want a text message something called a “spam” SMS. Customers will feel as if you’re invading their privacy and may lose all trust in you and your shop.
That’s why our customer has developed a way to ask for their customers’ permission to send them text messages when they first come into the shop. Our bet is that the customer will rarely say no – simply because it’s more convenient to them as well.
That said, it is smart to still reach out at first with an initial intro call to provide the necessary “human touch.” That’s just good customer service.
“But, after that first call I rely on that text messaging and the customers love it. With Call Loop, it pops up on all of our computer screens in case we miss their response.”
Texting customers can make your shop’s job easier and can routinely save your technicians time as well.
Of all of the decisions you can make to provide better customer service, drive revenue, and make your shop more efficient, beginning to leverage text message alerts and marketing seems to be fitting for the top of your list.
If you’re interested in allowing a PartsMarket Account Manager to connect you with our partners over at Call Loop, just let them know. We’ll be happy to walk you through the initial setup process and get you on your way to imminent success.
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