One of the biggest complaints from business owners is about consumers NOT being loyal any longer. This is especially true of shop owners. A big reason for this is most of them remember a time when they fixed the car right and treated the customers right and charged a “fair” price they would keep coming back. Now, most will tell you there is NO such thing as customer loyalty.

This isn’t 1990 any longer. The “new” consumer has no idea of that era, and they don’t feel as though they owe loyalty to any business. Part of the reason is the internet is commoditizing just about all businesses INCLUDING the repair industry.

While both are partially true, I would disagree with “There is no such thing as customer loyalty”. Where the big difference comes is how you gain that customer loyalty and it is NOT by always having the lowest price.

To gain that customer loyalty, there are a several things that are key, starting with… your shop’s “relationship” with your clients / customers.

You have no value in your business if you have no relationship with your customers. 2008 taught consumers about how to leverage the power of their wallet and their CHOICE. They no longer are willing to accept “just” being seen as a credit card. They want to feel as though they have a relationship with the place they are spending their money. In 2008, how much they had to spend was VERY limited and consumers insisted on getting the best bang for the valued buck. Getting the most included being treated as though they were something more than a credit card.

Relationships don’t just happen. You have to work to develop, foster and maintain relationships. Today’s consumer, more than ever, wants to feel as though they have a relationship with their repair shop. For many, their car is their most valued material asset.

Most businesses do not have actual relationships. They have transactions, which is why they call those they do business with — customers versus clients.

Relationships are…
Connected, Attached, a Sense of Obligation
Since I’m focusing on the relationships you have with your customers, let’s focus on 3 primary things.

  • When you have strong relationships with your customers they do not look at price as first priority of decision making.
  • They do value convenience of doing business with you as part of what you bring to the relationship. They do NOT care about trivial mistakes (which happen to everyone).
  • They are with YOU because of more reasons than just what you do or how you do it.
    This is why investing in (and I mean that literally) and fostering your customer relationship is THE REAL ASSET you have in your business that can be grown.
    There is no other investment on Earth that can provide the rate of return, satisfaction and significance as the one you make in your customer relationships. Nothing will go further in helping you separate your shop from the big box stores and franchises than the relationship you have with your customers.

This is a key component in the overall strategic marketing plan we bring to the table with the repair shops we work with. Each and every month part of the marketing we deliver to our repair shop clients includes client relationship building. If you’d like to learn more click here.

We don’t believe in growing one and done customers for our shop owner clients. Our goal is to get them in, keep them coming back and going deeper with them. Then, they will bring the other cars in the family in and refer to others. A perfect example of one and done approach, is a shop I worked with briefly that was averaging over 75 new customers a month, yet through the first six months of the year their sales were DOWN over $100,000. Given the number of new customers coming in the door every month, the opposite should have been true.
There are things that determine the value of the relationship and potential long-term success of your shop. In fact, I have boiled it down to three very important things for you to consider and agree with. Actually, they are inarguable principles of ‘customers’.
1. Not all customers are created equal this is fact.  Your goal should be to determine who makes the best customer for your business. Try to get as many as you can. This is why we often look to segment our customer list. Much of the criteria is based on what we know about our customers. It’s about targeting the ones that are the best fit for our offer and our goal.
2. You can’t wait for them to give you money and “become” your client before you start cultivating a relationship and creating value.  In fact, that is the surest sign of starvation. This is like saying you are going to commit to a relationship after you’re married. You have to begin cultivating the relationship right from the time of their first call. That is when you begin to “earn” their trust, respect, and then money and ultimately their loyalty. 

Think of that first visit as a customer “auditioning” your business and your team!
3. It is your responsibility to guide, condition, nurture, cultivate, and literally grow your customer into a long-term loyal customer through relationship.  Everything inside of your shop from your customer experience to your “way of doing things” should be focused on this goal. This is especially true after they have left. You should be following up with them and staying in touch with them.
Teach them how to be a better customer, and you will be more valuable to each other and teach them how to go out and refer their friends.
If you tie all 3 of these things together, you have created a business worth something to other people including your customers, and therefore worth more to you.
Always, always, always lead with the sincere, genuine, best-interest of your customers and see it as a relationship, long-term, and you will find a pot of gold.

If you think short-sided or get fixated on the money, you are going to miss the mark and will forever be in a one-night stand situation waking up feeling desperate and alone. You WILL waste a lot of money on constantly struggling to bring in “new” customers. You will sell yourself short and your business will be on shaky ground.
I really don’t think you can separate the idea of relationships as foundation for all things in life – and those that try to always end up starting over again and again.

Most don’t really want to “business around.” They want to “buy” and be loyal and have a shop they can trust, so they can be certain that their needs will be met. They want to depend on you to help them make the right decision about what’s best them, their situation and their vehicle.
Give yourself and your staff a check up on your relationship with your customers and go to work on marketing, selling, and delivering value in this way. You will see what you do (and the whole concept of business) much differently. it will be more fun and feel more rewarding and actually worth a whole lot more to you financially along the way.
I’ve talked in the past about “future bank”. Future bank is — building and sustaining good relationships with your customers. That is worth much more when it comes time to sell it.

If you would like to learn about our program to quickly help you bring “quality” car count to your shop you can CLICK HERE or email our office to set up a time to learn if the program is a fit for you.