In the first quarter of 2022, repair costs for car owners increased by 4.1%* compared to 2021. With this kind of inflation, your customers are paying extra attention to the quality of the services you offer them and value even more how they are treated when they bring their vehicle to your workshop. To reassure them and put their fears to rest, the first thing to do is to be as transparent as possible with them about services, prices and timing. Always remember: clarity and honesty are key elements when you want to retain customers in the workshop.
1. Clarifying prices, quotes and invoices
Let us start with one of the factors that are certainly at the centre of many of your customers’ thoughts. In other words, the price for your services. By making the fees that will be charged clear up front, you can avoid misunderstandings and disappointments.
The second piece of advice is to provide a detailed and understandable quotation to answer any questions or concerns your customers may have. Make sure, therefore, that the following data are always included:
- Labour times
- Cost of operations
- Operations carried out
Labour times are a good way to justify the time needed to carry out specific operations, as well as the costs that will consequently be charged to the customer. Since the latter could be questioned if one does not rely on the information provided by the manufacturers, it is important to indicate where this data comes from. Add the labour costs as well: they will help explain the different degrees of complexity of the operations.
The spare parts required for repairs should also not be omitted. In the quotation, try as best you can to indicate the part number so that you can reassure your customers that they can find the information themselves should they wish to verify it.
Customer loyalty in the workshop can also be nourished when handing them the invoice. It is advisable to maintain the same degree of accuracy that you used to draw up the estimate, as this is the document that the customer will keep in case they need it at a later date.
Finally, do not hesitate to inform your customers of the next servicing to be carried out according to their vehicle’s maintenance schedule. This will be useful to the customer both as a record and as a reminder.
2. Communication to build customer loyalty in the workshop
How you communicate with your customers is extremely important, from the moment they walk into your workshop up to when they pick up their vehicle. For this reason, do whatever you can to be in touch and make them feel that they are in good hands.
For example, we recommend using texts or e-mails to:
- Let them know that the vehicle is ready and can be collected
- Send the quotation and give the customer the option to either accept or reject it
- Provide photos and comments for the assessment of a claim
Time is never enough, we are well aware of that. This is why we recommend that you notify the customer as soon as the job on their car is completed: by minimising vehicle downtime in the workshop, you can ensure a higher turnover for your business. Not only that, if you opt to limit the use of phone calls and decide to communicate via text message or e-mail, you will be able to be quicker and less intrusive when getting in touch with your customers. Moreover, if you send the quote electronically, the customer will also have more time to evaluate it without feeling rushed into things.
To further save time, we suggest you equip yourself with a tool that gives you the possibility to automate these sorts of communications: interacting with your customers will be a lot smoother and they will thank you for it.
A little extra advice…
To keep in touch even after the car servicing has been completed, you can inform your customers about what other work will be needed according to the car’s maintenance schedule. This kind of information will help you retain customers in the workshop. Thanks to the manufacturer’s recommendations, you will be able to stay in touch with them and be transparent about future maintenance needs. However, it is important that this information is merely presented as evidence of your desire to monitor your client’s vehicle for their interest only. Making it appear as a means to obtain new work for you could have a different effect on your client’s opinion.
Finally, never forget to take the time to explain anything that may be unclear. Do not hesitate to explain the reason for certain costs and the way the job was carried out. Do so in a simple, friendly and accessible manner. Remember that if you use info coming from repair methods, maintenance plans or official technical data obtained directly from the manufacturer you have nothing to be worried about.
With these few easy actions, you can ensure a transparent, trusting relationship with your customers. When they feel confident and well-informed, it is easier for you to gain their loyalty and thus create a long-term relationship that will bring you both stability and profitability.
*Based on the study carried out by the SRA.