In a world where there is so much marketing information and so many so-called advertising solutions, it is easy to get lost in all the minutia and forget that the number one form of advertising has always been, and always will be, “word of mouth” advertising. This organic formula for growth involves giving customers an exceptional experience and causing them to become promoters of your collision repair business and it represents most collision repairers’ biggest opportunity for growth. As an industry, many of us think we are doing a good job – but data points to the complete opposite!

According to survey information obtained by Phoenix Solutions Group (PSG), less than one in ten people surveyed can remember the name of the independent collision repair shop that repaired their vehicle just twelve months prior! In a separate survey, PSG also discovered that 87% of people know of a friend or family member that has recently been involved in an automobile accident. Do you see the severe ramifications of this scenario? Do you see the massive opportunity to get and keep customers for life?

So, how do you get customers to want to recommend you? There is behavioral science that suggests the importance of the customers experiencing a high level of integrity while dealing with your business. Many collision repairers falsely assume that a high CSI Score will make customers into raving fans, but that is only partially true. You also have to take advantage of showing them that you always do what you say you will. To show integrity in the collision repair business there are three primary opportunities that you can take advantage of with every customer.

  1. Provide the customer with a promise date. (I recommend performing a proper damage analysis so as not make yourself into a liar.)
  2. Deliver the car on or before the promise date.
  3. Remember to perform all the customer requests such as free touch-ups etc.

As you can imagine, the acquisition cost of a new customer can be quite a bit higher than retaining your current customer base. So once you have created a raving fan, how do you keep your name in front of them? There are a few different schools of thought out there depending on who is selling you the magic solution and the proof can be inconclusive and hard to substantiate. Some will tell you the best way to stay in touch with customers post sale is to blast them with promotional emails or newsletters. This may work and is better than nothing in my opinion, but there is evidence that an old fashioned hand-signed note in the old fashioned snail mail still grabs and holds their attention the best. A periodic mailing that simply asks the question, “Are you still happy with the repair work we did?” Not trying to sell them anything, but instead just letting them know that we care – sending a message of trust and integrity.

In a very challenging collision repair industry I urge you to not lose focus of the importance of creating a better experience for the customer. Businesses that become too DRP dependent can be putting themselves at great risk for long-term success. A balanced business approach that incorporates DRPs is okay for some as long as they have also built a stable customer base. When it comes to advertising in many markets it is increasingly difficult for independent collision repairers to go head to head with large MSO consolidators, and for many it would be silly to even try. If you place more emphasis on creating an exceptional customer experience and then keeping your name in front of them post sale, you can own customers for life and grow your business profits the right way.

For help growing your collision repair business the right way visit www.elitebodyshopsolutions.com