What Field Are You In? Auto Repair or People?
Most good shop owners consider themselves to be in the people business.
These shops accomplish this by following four mandates: make people feel important; save them time; save them money; make them feel safe. Good shops accomplish this by being maintenance shops not breakdown shops; they schedule clients’ future appointments and remind them of these appointments.
We’re told many times—the cost of attracting a new client is extremely expensive compared to the cost of keeping a client. Scheduling the next appointment is the first step in creating and nurturing a long-term relationship with your client.
Consider these two business models. Shop “A” performs an inspection and oil change for a client. The shop gives the client an invoice for the service, informs them their vehicle needs new spark plugs and one of the tie-rod ends has slight play and should be changed at their next service. Shop “A” tells the client to call them in three months to make an appointment for their next service and to remember this other work should be done. Shop “B” performs the same service but when presenting the invoice and estimate, they tell the client: “We know it’s important to perform a few safety and maintenance services; you have a busy schedule, so we’re scheduling your appointment and will call, e-mail or text you to remind you of it.” I’m sure you’ll agree; we know which shop has the best chance of seeing this client for the next service.
There are many benefits of scheduling the next service for both shop and client. We all know clients have busy and hectic schedules. Most are happy you help them keep track of their maintenance needs and educate them on the importance of practicing preventative maintenance.
Shops that schedule the client’s next service enjoy the benefit of keeping their bays busy daily. Most shops will track the client’s service history and have access to various maintenance schedules. When scheduling the next service, the service advisor can see the history and schedule, then accurately plan what maintenance services will be due next visit. When you show the client you monitor their history and future needs, it builds trust.
When performing regular inspections, you commonly find issues. This gives you the chance to schedule an appointment weeks/months ahead to replace those parts before they cause an emergency visit or potential safety issues.
Another beneficial reward from scheduling your client’s next service is it can be used as a low-cost method of surveying what your clients think of you and gives you the opportunity to solve minor issues before they become relationship killers. Many shops spend too much paying other companies to send out generic reminders or surveys. When your client is standing in front of you and isn’t willing to schedule the next service, you have a chance to discuss why and learn from it. The same conversation can happen when reminder e-mails/calls are sent. Often clients just need more information/options when deciding to let your shop enjoy the benefits of a long-time relationship.
Win…Win…Win… is what scheduling the next appointment is to everyone involved. Clients enjoy the benefits of having their vehicles maintained and in safe condition while letting someone else keep their hectic schedules organized. Shop owners and staff enjoy having an organized and productive schedule.