automotive epic

automotive

Automotive Business – Mobile or Fixed

Posted on May 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

The other day I was talking to an individual who’d been a mechanic for over 20-years and was now considering starting his own business. He looked at various models, but realized that fixed site automotive services required one hell of a lot of start-up capital, and that he’d have to take out huge loans in an uncertain economy. Finally, he thought what about an oil change business? Did that make sense – what about one that came to you, a mobile operation.

You see, he’d recalled recently having to wait in line at a quick lube, and how frustrated he was. He himself being a mechanic knew it didn’t take that long to do, but he also realized he didn’t have a place to throw away the used oil when he was done, so he paid to have it done. He reiterated to me; “While getting an oil change one day I considered the amount of wasted time in the average Joe either changing oil himself or waiting at a Jiffy Lube.”

“Yes,” I told him, “it is BS, everyone agrees with you, and yet people with their smart phones these days complain less and less and stay busy playing on their personal tech gadgets.”

Indeed, in considering all this, he thought; “This brings me to the next thought of someone coming to my house to change my oil while I am not there.” But then, after contemplation he thought; “Quickly that notion is shot down by looking from the other side and seeing driving house to house as not a viable business model.” Yes he is right actually, You are right, especially considering his cost – fuel for instance.

What about going to corporate office parks while cars are parked all day long, every day in the same place, waiting for auto services, amenities if you will? Okay, yes, this is a potential automotive business venue. Plus, all these people have jobs and an actual income to afford it and not put it off when they know they must maintain their vehicles. Still, this might not be the perfect business model because, well, it’s not as good as you think, you’ll be lucky to get 8% repeat customers, each car with a different oil and fuel filter, hard to deal with folks, challenges where the HR department will not send out a mass reminder email, stuff like that.

Indeed, he will need a solid software package to keep track of all the customers, to stay efficient right? Yes, there is software available, several that I’ve seen and used, most is good and similar to a spread sheet, the best ones help with billing and link into Quick Books and Constant Contact. Please consider all this and think on it.

The Easy Way to Maintain Dealership Service Department Customer Loyalty & Retention

Posted on May 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

You are an automotive service director just coming out of the General Manager’s office, he asks you why the repair order count is not growing. What is the answer? How do you grow a service department business in a down economy?

Well, the basic answer is customer loyalty and customer retention. But, we know that customer loyalty went out the window with the cassette player.

In today’s economy, with an independent repair shop and express lube center around every corner how do you keep the customers loyal? You must keep them engaged. You must keep your automotive service business top of the mind, you must keep your automotive service business top of their mind when the buy need happens, or a service need arises.

Top of the mind awareness is when your dealership service department owns that space between your customer’s ears, and they think of you and only you when the time for service arises. So, how do you achieve top of the mind awareness?

First, let’s look a basic service department advertising strategy. A typical service department will send out a quarterly tri-fold mailer to everyone in their database. Also, they have a reminder letter that goes out when they think the customer is due for service. That is it! This represents 90% of automotive dealerships across the nation. A mailer, and a reminder. Others will say, we have loyal customers. Typical customer loyalty and customer retention is 28-34%, but what about the other 68-72% or customers that are easily swayed?

To achieve top of the mind awareness, your name must constantly be in front of the customer at all times. But, not with goods and services. Typical dealership marketing strategy as described in the Paragraph above, is constantly telling the customer, “BUY MY SERVICE”! Top of the mind awareness tells the customer, “Here is a way to save money on insurance”, or “Here are 7 tips for your next roadtrip”. You are creating a relationship.

With typical marketing (this is called “Push” marketing) a customer will tune you out. With Top of the mind awareness marketing (this is called “Pull” marketing, or attraction marketing) You keep the customer engaged via timely, useful, and informative information. Then when the service need arises, they will think of you, the dealership that built the amazing relationship with the customer. Now, that is an automotive service marketing strategy.

Now, it can get very expensive trying to keep your name, and brand in front of your customers at all times. The best way and most cost effective way to accomplish this is through an Email marketing campaign.

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Enjoying a Career in Automotive Customer Service

Posted on May 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

If you enjoy working with the public, and if you love cars, you may want to take the time to learn more about the Advanced Automotive Service Advisor diploma programs offered by many automotive schools. Designed to prepare students for the front lines of the automotive industry- interacting with customers on a daily basis- the programs contain both theoretical and practical components to ensure that graduates are prepared to excel in the automotive market, either as Service Advisors, or as Parts Consultants. Specific skills taught to students include:

  • Time management
  • Automotive systems
  • Effective communication skills
  • How to resolve customer conflicts
  • Management of invoices, inventory, and warranties
  • Customer service and customer care
  • Basic operations of a dealership

Diplomas for Advanced Automotive Service Advisor programs always place a strong emphasis on learning software systems in computer labs. Competent software skills are key in any profession, and the ever-changing automotive industry is no exception. Often, a student will spend up to 50% of their time learning the systems which are the backbone of today’s car dealerships. Examples of software systems which are taught to Service Advisor and Parts Consultant students are:

  • The Reynolds & Reynolds® dealership system
  • Automotive Business Management Systems (ABMS)
  • The Snap-On Shop Key estimating tool
  • The International Parts Corporation (IPC) parts catalogue system

No Advanced Automotive Service Advisor diploma program would be complete without hands on study. Typically, students begin learning the basics of customer service in a simulated parts and service counter with multi-faceted role-playing. Students are exposed to typical customer interaction scenarios in order to develop their skills and increase their comfort level with public interaction. Constant feedback is provided by teachers to ensure that students learn how to adapt to the dynamic service department of a car dealership. Next, students take part in a mutli-week on-site internship where they are placed in an actual dealership. This phase of a student’s learning is critical, as they gain invaluable experience, make contacts, and learn what life as a Service Advisor or Parts Consultant is really like. Many students appreciate this real-world experience, and consider it an integral part of their education.

Throughout their program, students are encouraged to interact with their teachers, all of whom will have solid practical experience as well as sound theoretical knowledge. In the end, an Advanced Automotive Service Advisor diploma student can expect to graduate with the kind of training needed to be successful in today’s automotive market.

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