Make Each Customer And Car Count

By November 2, 2021 November 23rd, 2021 Tips

What does a day at your auto repair shop look like? Is it way too busy? Are there more cars than you can accommodate?

Many auto repair business owners believe that they don’t have enough cars coming into their shops. However, Murray Voth, President at RPM Training says otherwise. During his 15 years of experience as an automotive shop management trainer and implementation coach, Mr. Voth has noticed:

“Less than 5% of aftermarket shops actually have a car count problem.”

So, what gives? Well, the secret to being profitable is making the most of each car and customer coming into your shop. Let’s find out how you can do this.

1. Build meaningful customer relationships

Would you prefer a stable relationship or a one-time fling?

No, we’re not talking about dating—instead, we’re referring to your customers. Car owners and mechanic shops both benefit from a long-term relationship with each other based on mutual trust. Murray Voth says:

“Close to 60% of vehicle owners in North America want to build a relationship with a shop and have someone help look after their cars.”

Most mechanic shops are so busy processing one job after another that they adopt a fast-food restaurant-like model. Sit with each customer, give them your undivided attention, and explain everything to them in detail—similar to what a consultant would do!

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2. Inspect every vehicle

Do you inspect every car that comes into your shop?

The best auto repair shops do.

Carrying out Digital Vehicle Inspections allows you to easily identify any additional issues with cars and recommend fixes. Generally, mechanic shops shy away from this “upsell”. However, it has been proven that adopting a “consulting model” increases the average repair order size.

Most of your clients won’t know what services you offer. They might get an oil change from one shop, go to another for air conditioning repairs, before finally coming to yours for a tire rotation job. So Mentioning these in inspection reports will inform your customers that you are the one-stop shop for their vehicle maintenance needs.

3. Use the right strategy for quoting jobs

A question that most auto repair shops struggle with is:

“How do I present estimates without scaring off customers?”

Well, there are two strategies you can adopt:

  • The gentle approach: Give clients a rundown of all the required work. However, only provide an estimate for the two most important jobs and defer the rest to a future visit. This strategy is useful when you’re starting off your business or dealing with a new customer. Additionally, it gives some breathing room to clients on a budget.
  • Going all-out: Some clients prefer to get all jobs done in one go rather than during multiple visits. As you learn more about a customer’s preferences, you can offer to conduct all repairs in a single trip.
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4. Understand your clients’ needs

Many auto repair shops assume that their clients are aware of the work required to fix their cars. However, Murray Voth says:

“60 to 80% of people don’t know what their vehicle needs.”

But then how can shop owners determine what customers are looking for? Well, asking customers the relevant questions seems to be the most effective approach. The best service advisors ask questions like:

“When was the last time you changed your wiper blades?”

If they haven’t replaced them in a while, you can inform clients that they need to do it at least once a year. These small jobs add up and increase your average repair order size. Based on his research, Murray Voth says:

“The average work order size in the industry runs at less than $200.”

This indicates that there’s little profit generated with one-line invoices after factoring in expenses.

5. Avoid taking on too many orders

Overbooking your shop can harm profitability.

But how can you tell that you’re overbooked?

You may be running behind schedule. If your customers are angrily tapping their feet while waiting, you may have a problem. Here are some drawbacks of overbooking:

  • Unhappy employees: Your mechanics may feel rushed and stressed out. Similarly, service advisors won’t get to spend enough time with customers, leading to communication gaps and dissatisfaction all around.
  • Poor output quality: What happens when you rush a job? Well, usually, it ends poorly. Your techs may underperform due to the volume of repair orders, which can mar your shop’s reputation.
  • Revenue hit: If you have several orders lined up, the vehicle inspection process suffers. This drives down the average repair order size and harms your relationship with customers.
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As Murray Voth shows in the above video, it’s more profitable to build relationships with fewer clients and get larger repair orders than conducting multiple small jobs.

Closing thoughts

While getting new customers into your store may be tempting, the most successful auto repair shops focus on their existing customers. At the end of the day, it’s not about the car count—it’s about making each customer and car count.

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