In our last blog piece we talked about how to grow your auto repair business, and our first several point addressed bringing in new customers. While it’s always good to brainstorm ways to get new people in your shop, none of that really helps if you can’t find a way to convert those people into return and then regular customers. It’s increasing your base of regular customers, and particularly those who will be interested in routine maintenance and other add-on services, that will keep your business in the black.
Here are some tips to make sure the customers who walk through your door will want to come back:
Follow up on your customers – The most important part of this step is making sure you can contact your customers when you need to. Chances are you already know how crucial a mailing list is for marketing, so if you don’t have one, why not? Start one immediately, and design it to be comprehensive without being intrusive. Then make a plan for how you will contact your customers with the when, what, and how spelled out ahead of time so there is absolutely no confusion about your company’s process. Give this task to whoever in your business has the best organizational skills and allow them them the time to spend with customers addressing their concerns or telling them about current discounts, sales, or offers.
Offer return shopping discounts – If you give your customers a compelling reason to come back, with discounts, coupons, or good deals, you’ll have a much better chance of seeing them again. Everyone likes saving money. Figure out, through surveys, direct customer contact, or sales patterns, what your customers will find hard to refuse and offer that as a return visit incentive. This obviously will vary with the type of customer. Women may find certain offers more tempting than men. Older people may be more receptive to discounts on systems checks or maintenance. If your customer list is comprehensive enough, it should be easy to tailor your return offers to people who will be intrigued by them.
Reward loyal customers – Many businesses determine who their regular customers are and reward them for the money they consistently spend, either through more formal membership programs or something as simple as a punch card reward system. While people like saving money, they love getting something for “free,” even when that something is of fairly insignificant monetary value. Customers also love exclusive offers and the psychological rush of being included in a group that is positively singled out. This strategy can be a good way to make a return customer a regular customer.
Give them service that exceeds expectations – Remember that your customers will return without an extra incentive whenever your products and/or service exceeds expectation. A good experience is generally something people like to repeat and will repeat on their own. Make a point of telling your staff regularly what a difference the quality their work can make for the company and reward it when it happens.
Ultimately, repeat business is a form of feedback. Repeat customers are telling you with their actions that they appreciated how they were treated and the service that they got. Whether you make that experience happen with fantastic service or additional incentives, if you want your business to grow, you will explore all of your customer satisfaction options.