Now that it’s about halfway through 2018, it’s a good time to look back at the year thus far to see the ways you and your shop can improve. There’s always room to do better, and here at PartsMarket, we aspire to drive your positive evolution in the form of a mutually beneficial partnership.
A lot of what we try to can be boiled down to our knowledge and experience. Having worked with thousands of shops across the country, we have a large data set to work with. Our team has been leveraging that data to give back to our customers in the form of insights. We call them “tune-ups” and they are designed to help you achieve more.
Today, we’ve dissected the many ways auto repair shops across the country accelerate sales. They accomplish this by either reaching more potential customers or increasing sales from existing customers. Below, you’ll find 10 actionable steps you can take to be well on your way to more sales revenue during the second half of 2018.
#1: Become the Sole Decision Maker
The healthiest shops are all-inclusive. They gladly accept all new ideas from the team and then gather to discuss new opportunities collectively.
That said, there is a thin line between a shop’s democracy and a power struggle. As the owner of the shop, it’s important that all of these ideas bubble up to you. You should then be the one that agrees and approves any decisions that need to be made.
Like I said, there is a balance to be struck here, but you never want to become a victim of a “too many opinions” problem. Shops that have too many opposing ideas gracing its walls can create an excessive number of internal issues.
Use tools and processes to guide your decision-making. Let the team know how it should function immediately.
#2: Stop Paying for Those Magazine Ads
I’m not going to make this one of those cliche pleas to move everything online, but in this day and age, you should really consider all options for your advertising dollars.
Truth be told, you will spend less and be able to track more when running online promotions. To put it into perspective, you can advertise on Google or Facebook for $100 and reach more targeted car owners than a $1,000 magazine ad could.
So, tighten your belt and reconsider how you’re allocating spend on billboards, radio, newspaper, and even direct mail. If you’re doing those things without even having tested an online ad yet, bring someone in to help you immediately.
#3: Use the Word “You” Instead of “I”
I love this sales tactic because once you start practicing it, it changes everything.
The concept is simple… Rather than saying something like “We are the fastest shop in town,” you say something similar to “You will be in and out of here quickly.” This subtle modification to text and speech places the value of what you’re offering into the framework of your customer’s perspective. If you truly think about it, a customer doesn’t care if you’re technically the fastest, because that’s relative to what they need done. Instead, they’ll feel it more by knowing that you are emphasizing that they won’t have to wait around for too long.
This concept applies universally to all messages. “We are the best” translates to “Your #1 source”; “I will take care of you” becomes “You are in good hands.” The list goes on and on.
Try it out. It will feel very good and you’ll probably close more sales consistently doing it.
#4: Unify Your Messaging
What is your shop best at?
That’s a question I’ve been trying to ask PartsMarket customers for several months now. Using the framework mentioned in #3 above, the trick here is to hone in on the one or few things that will speak most profoundly to your target customer.
As soon as you are able to uncover the true value in your services, more customers will flock to you for those things. If it remains muddy and unclear, you won’t stand out, and you’ll watch more and more customers flock to the many other options they have in your local area.
#5: Analyze Your Return on Investment
This is simple and theory, but a busy shop owner doesn’t always have the luxury of knowing what’s working and what isn’t.
For every dollar you spend, there should be an equal or greater dollar amount returned to your shop. In the auto repair industry, making money is more important than people remembering your shop’s name. You’re not really in the branding race (unless you own a franchise of course). Keep track of where you’re spending your marketing dollars. If you’re not getting a return on investment, stop spending money there.
As a final tip on this, if you move your advertising online (#2), you’re going to get a better ROI than traditional channels such as direct mail, radio, and magazine ads.
#6: Understand Your Target Customers
You no longer have any excuses on why you shouldn’t know everything about your customers in 2018. I don’t intend to mean that in a creepy or big brother type of way. I just mean that there are so many free tools that allow you to build out your personas and target the people that are more likely to come into your shop.
To gather information from your current customers, establish an email list and send out an online survey. Ask them about their needs and wants. Keep in close contact with them. These sort of email reminders are their own versions of marketing.
If you have a website (which you should), you can use Google’s free analytics tools to see who’s visiting the site. You can expand on that further by adopting a CRM and auto repair shop software that will help grow your business with all this data. Take some time to research all of the tools that are available. We’re here to help if you have any questions about them.
#7: Practice Makes Perfect
It turns out that the old saying is one of the best summer reminders for you. You don’t know what you don’t know. Furthermore, if you don’t know if you’re good at something you need to be better at, it’s time to refine your skills.
When placed into the construct of sales and marketing, this means you need to roll up your sleeves and get to it. Get on the floor and sell as often as you can. With those conversations, build out the right processes and sales scripts that you determine work the best.
Get behind the computer and watch a few videos about online marketing. Spend a few dollars to put up ads yourself. By learning these types of things, you’re making a conscious investment into your shop’s future. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to be the one to hire talent that can do these types of things (so that you don’t have to). By sharpening your axe, you’ll be in a much better position to make sound hiring decisions.
#8: Talk To Your Existing Customers
This doesn’t just mean “send them an email.” It doesn’t even mean “give them a call.” Instead, think about who they are and where they found value in your shop. Once you smooth that out, prepare to take notes and ask the following questions:
- What made our shop stand out?
- What can we do to have you coming in more often?
- Do your family and friends know about us?
- What can we offer you to help spread the word?
With as few as 4 to 5 questions, you can accomplish a great deal. You’re not only reestablishing your connection with customers of old, but you’re also letting them know that you are trying to accelerate sales.
You can’t get sales that you don’t ask for. Don’t be afraid to ask the customers that you know have already had a good experience with you. Leveraging that trust will be pivotal to your growth.
#9: Increase Your Prices
This doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Don’t be nervous. We’re not telling you to overcharge customers. We’d never encourage that.
What this does mean, though, is that you can increase sales simply by hiking prices an unnoticeable amount. For example, if you increased all of your prices 2% this year, would anyone notice? Assuming the answer is no, the outcome is that you end up with 2% more in sales. Without knowing your numbers, that can add up to a significant amount of money over the year.
It’s a small risk worth taking in 2018. Go for it – especially if you work on the other tips in this article beforehand.
#10: Build Out a Plan
You might be amazed to realize just how many business owners don’t have plans to work off of. By every meaning of the phrase, they’re essentially “flying by the seat of their pants.”
Not having a plan is an irresponsible way to operate a business. As the shop owner, you should know where you want to go and what it will take to get there. Often times, that means working backward from a goal by documenting the quarterly, monthly, weekly, and then daily objectives that are required to stay on pace.
Draw up a business plan. Document your internal processes. Refine your sales pitch. Lay out your marketing plan.
If you do all of these things over the next few months, you’ll not only end 2018 on a high note, but you will be drastically more prepared for 2019 than you are right now.
Stay proactive and get working on this list right away. If you ever need anything from us, we’re just a phone call or email away.
Best of luck the rest of 2018!