Creative Automotive Management Solutions
Ref; AAA Inspections and You!
Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening Everyone
AAA, everyone knows who they are, and for the most part everyone uses their name to help bolster their facilities appearance or draw. Like them or not, our customers know the name, AAA and trust it. But this article isn’t about AAA, it’s about those sometimes-pesky free AAA Inspections that they require we do for anyone who requests one. You’re busy working away (or not) and someone calls you’ve never seen before and asks for their free inspection. What a pain in the backside huh? I’m writing this article to tell you to STOP thinking about them as a pain, or interruption, but instead as opportunity!
How can this interruption ever be thought of as opportunity? “The people call wanting or just demanding their free inspection, they even show up unannounced wanting one, AND THEN THEY DON’T BUY ANYTHING we recommend. What a waste if time”, or is it!? When we do actually “give in” and perform this inspection, do we do it with the intent of capitalizing on a potential new customer. Are we actually checking the vehicle out to find all the “needed” repairs/service, or is it just another interruption to your day? “Look at that car, they’re not going to buy anything, this is a waste of my time”, I know those words have, at some point come out of everyones mouth, or at the very least you have thought them, sometimes very loudly as indicated by you facial expressions. STOP! Handling these inspections properly is opportunity, and opportunity should never be wasted, ever!
“How is this opportunity, how is this waste of time anything more than that?” Lets look at the positives of possibilities instead of the negatives here (which by the way, will help everyone’s business). STOP with the negatives and start focusing on the positives! Positive thoughts will always bring with them positive results, while negative thoughts will……well…….you understand! So, back to opportunity, lets look at 2 ways of making these inspections a win for you and a win for your customer, yes, I’m talking about a WIN/WIN.
First, we need to stop looking at our customers or their vehicles and judging whether or not they have money to fix their car. Every time you determine what they have based on appearance, you’ll lose. Let’s be honest, everyone has had one of those customers come in that appear that they didn’t have 2 nickels to rub together, then have spent a lot of money repairing their vehicle. In Northern California (maybe your area too), transportation is absolutely critical and we have seen people repair their vehicles before paying their mortgages because if their vehicle is down, they have no way of generating income. I have personally seen an estimate written for $46,000.00 on a 76 Jeep, and yes the decimal point is in the right spot. No bling, no hot rod components, simply just returning it back to its original condition (not restored either). How and why would anyone spend that kind of money on a stock, worn out Jeep, you ask? Because it was her Fathers Jeep, that he bought brand new and he had recently passed away, it was her remembrance of him. And those of you who may say, “that’s crazy or foolish”, those who wouldn’t have written or presented that estimate, would have lost out on the almost $35,000.00 she has spent so far on it. NEVER judge your customer by their personal or vehicles looks. Even those who have not spent money in the past, because you never know if/when they may have come into money, or just simply can’t defer those repairs/services/maintenance any longer! Regardless of where your location is, at some level, everyone needs their vehicle, or they wouldn’t own one!
Secondly, and back to the AAA tie, remember that Marketing comes in many forms. You don’t Market solely to make a sale every time, as the recipient of your Marketing may not be in need right now, you also Market for the future. Some of your Marketing money must be spent to keep your name in front of your existing, or potential customers so that when they need you, your name comes to mind first. Refrigerator magnets, pens, notepads all help at keeping your name in front of your customer long term. Think of items that DON’T have a “call to action” (no direct offer or coupon) as Marketing too. I think you’ll find that the ones that don’t, maybe the above mentioned items, can and will have a dramatic effect on business as well. Simple, Thank You or Holiday Cards with NO direct Marketing or Advertising are starting to have a stronger pull with customers than ever before. Maybe it because they, just like you and me are inundated with Marketing and Advertisements every day, and they, like us, are just simply tired of it.
OK, so how does all this tie to the AAA inspections? Here is the answer! STOP looking at them as an immediate sales tool, and instead look at them as Marketing for the future. Sure you must perform a complete inspection, write an estimate and talk with them about thier vehicle needs, but if they say “NO”, don’t discount the value of what was just done. Instead of making a hard pitch or sell during this visit, probably the first visit, try just educating them about their vehicle, AND Market to them through the opportunity AAA gave you. Not only are they now in your customer base to send marketing too, but also they are in front of you! Let them experience your customer service skills, show them your facility, tell them about all the differences between you and “the other guys”, and above all, hand them a “Packet of Information” about your facility. This could simply include a flyer about an up-coming event—a Car Care day, a AAA day, your facilities anniversary……you find or create one. REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS, general information about deferred maintenance and associated costs when you do, any articles or newsletters you may have written and sent to your existing customers. Simply, ANY and ALL INFORMATION THAT KEEPS YOUR NAME IN FRONT OF THEM after they leave. Most people won’t remember what you told them within 1 day of leaving you; give them information to keep your facility, your livelihood in their sight over the long haul.
Finally, is this article solely about the AAA inspections, absolutely not, this is just a Hot Button that seems to come every time they run this campaign. Think in a broader sense. This is about Marketing, both direct and indirect, and about what you should do EVERY TIME you have someone, especially someone new in your facility and in front of you or your Service Writer. What does the customer, your current or potential customer see when he/she walks in, how are they treated, are their expectations met, are they educated on who and why they should be doing business with you, just to name a few. Have, or do we satisfy all those questions? These are questions everyone MUST ask themselves, as Customer Service is truly the only thing that makes us different from the competition, and if ours isn’t better than they shop down the street, why would our customers stay with us? Everyday you walk up to and into your facility, think about being a customer there for the first time, then make changes accordingly!
- Your Customers have choices in Auto Repair. Make sure we are their choice!
- Don’t judge your customers by their, or their vehicles appearance!
- Treat EVERY encounter with a current or potential customer as a Marketing tool!
- Be a customer in Your Own Facility everyday!
- Marketing comes in many forms!
- Never discount the power of educating your customers!
- If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will!
- Refrigerator Magnets!
As we work into the final quarter of the 2008-year, remember to think with your mind, not your heart, as business is not a place for emotion. Be diligent in your drive for growth and be consistent in your efforts for change. Above all, remember that change is difficult for everyone, but change is required for success, take it slow, and be consistent!
“Luck is what you have left over AFTER you give 100 percent!”
RayKunz Enterprises, LLC