Your 2015 Marketing Plan for Improving Customer Acquisition, Retention & Referrals
There’s no doubt that the industry is changing. It seems like there’s a new acquisition every day. In fact, nearly $3 billion of sales volume in the collision industry has changed ownership in the past 24 months – that’s 10 percent of the entire industry! And this consolidation isn’t expected to slow down any time soon.
Additionally, over 60 percent of the average shop’s revenue comes from Direct Referral Programs (DRPs) and insurance carriers. Yet, 48 percent of 18 to 24 year old, and 51 percent of 25-34 year-old policyholders say they are “somewhat or very likely” to switch to another insurance provider within the next 12 months.
We expect consolidation to continue and DRP work will be highly valued in the coming months and years; so, what’s going to be your competitive edge? Your customers. What can you do in this hyper-competitive climate to utilize your customers, your most valuable business asset? It’s simpler than you may think.
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Do These Scenarios Sound Familiar?
Not Consistently Following Up on Unsold Estimates
You’re frustrated with the number of estimates you write for customers who walk out the door and never return. Sending them an email to their smartphone, rather than leaving a voicemail, may get them back in the door.
Unclear About How Much to Share with Customers
You’re unclear about how much information you should share with your customers. Too much “body shop lingo” will make them feel overwhelmed, but you want to answer their questions. Frequent and consistent communications with the repair status of their vehicles may be all they need.
Missing Opportunities to Ask for Referrals
You don’t have a process to ask your satisfied customers for referrals. Providing numerous avenues - your website, social media, email and text - for customers to recommend your shop to family and friends may lead to more customers.
Wondering When They’ll Be In Touch
Do you wonder where that repair customer went who mentioned he’ll be in touch about detail work he needs? If you sent him an e-coupon for 10 percent off appearance-related services, he’d be more inclined to return.
It’s hard to control revenue when your current marketing plan is crossing your fingers that new work will come in every month. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your most valuable business asset is always right here with you: the customers, who know, like and trust you and your shop.
If you’ve found marketing to be too time-consuming and labor intensive, now is the time to regroup. With technology and a practical proven guide, you’ll be ready to launch an effective, customer focused marketing strategy in 2015.
Three simple, inexpensive ways to lift your shop’s sales by nearly $100,000 this year.
Any time a customer has to come into a body shop, it’s already outside of their normal routine. Whether they came in for an estimate, a repair, or regular maintenance, they’ll forget about you as their everyday life resumes.
How can you stay in front of the customer between visits? By collecting their digital contact information to regularly communicate with them in the way that’s most convenient for them. To demonstrate, here’s how a hypothetical collision shop with $1.5 million in annual sales could increase revenue by nearly $100,000 with three simple initiatives.
3 Simple Marketing Initiatives
Implement an Unsold Estimate Follow-Up System
An unsold estimate process simply involves deciding how often you’re going to call back customers to “ask for the sale”, then actually doing it. But, getting a human on the other end of the phone can be difficult. We’ve seen an increase of 2-5% in a shop’s conversion rate after implementing an unsold estimate process using text and email. Increasing our shop’s closing ratio from 70% to 73% would add 2 repairs per month, or $48,000 in annual revenue.
Market & Sell Additional Services to Your Customers
The typical vehicle owner spends $500 per year on mechanical and appearance-related services; 75% ($375) for mechanical repairs and 25% ($125) for appearance.
Your shop could advertise detailing, dent repair, bumper repair, and headlight restoration to get previous customers back in the door. If our shop brought back just 5% of last year’s customers for appearance-related services, it would equate to 36 jobs (60 jobs/month *12 months * 5%) or $4,500 in annual revenue.
Moreover, has seeing your technicians sit idle made you wish you had a way to use that available capacity? Marketing maintenance services to your existing customers keeps your shop busy and makes money for you and your technicians. It also gives you another opportunity to stay in front of the customer between accidents.
Consistently Ask Your Delighted Customers for Referrals
The typical U.S. adult consumer has influence over 4.2 vehicles. This means he or she recommends where 4.2 family members, friends and associates go to get their vehicles repaired. Our shop seeing 720 vehicles per year has a referral potential of 3,024 vehicles! In a 3-year period, that’s reaching over 9,000 vehicle owners in the community.
Given the probability that these 9,000 people will be involved in an accident this year (2.25%), that’s approximately 200 potential vehicles needing repair.
Shops who ask existing customers for referrals 4 times a year have seen a 10% referral rate. That means 20 jobs or $40,000 in revenue for our shop.
Clearly, the potential to grow your customer base and increase your profits is there. But how much time and money will it take?
Marketing in a Multi-Channel Digital World
Regardless of Their Age, Your Customers Live in a Multi-Channel World. If You Want to Reach Them, You Need to Be Where They Are.
- Email is the preferred channel for permission-based promotional messages with 77% of consumers.
- As of 2012, 116 million Americans owned smartphones. They reach for them over 150 times a day.
- 98% of all text messages are opened. 90% are read within 3 minutes of receipt.
- Over 80% of consumers read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business.
- Social media isn’t “just for kids.” The fastest growing demographic on Facebook and Google+ is aged 45-54.
- Twitter’s 55-64 year-old user base has grown 79% since 2012.
According to an April 2014 Independent Survey by Summit eMarketing Sherpas:
- 35% of shops do not email or text customer Thank You letters after vehicle delivery.
- 35% of shops do not have a standard process to stay in touch with customers between shop visits.
Sales & Marketing Automation: Your Virtual Marketing Team
A sales and marketing automation system functions like your own virtual marketing team. You’ll find all the current best practices for leveraging your customers to increase your shop’s revenue in 2015 and beyond. It’s a convenient, one-stop-shop to get everything you need. Whether it’s a thank you email, a repair status text, or an integrated referral marketing program, your marketing team is here to work. Plus, it’s online, all-the-time.
How It Works
A sales and marketing automation system, also known as a digital marketing platform, should perform a variety of tasks to help your shop acquire and retain customers and build your referral business.
Centralize Customer Data
Automatically capture customer, vehicle, and other related repair information, and import it into a dedicated database. This gives you the flexibility to switch to another estimating or management system provider without losing your customers.
Segment Customers by Vehicle Type
Plus, you can target your marketing communications by vehicle make, model, year, insurer, zip, etc. Imagine your customers’ gratitude when you send a targeted email to owners of a recently recalled vehicle. This is a pretty easy way to get those customers back in your shop.
Follow-Up on Unsold Repair Estimates
Automatically email or text every customer with an unsold estimate, asking for the sale, a tactic which has been shown to improve close ratios.
Send Branded “Thank You” Emails & Text Messages
Customers like to know their business is valued. Make thanking customers via personalized emails or texts painless with automation. Improve your satisfaction ratings, build your brand, generate referrals and increase your online reputation.
Educate & Inform Customers
Position your shop as a local authority on your customers’ vehicles by sending out pre-written maintenance tips, recall notices, and relevant news.
Ensure that your company’s brand enjoys top-of-mind awareness with customers. That’s an invaluable position when someone asks for the name of a good collision repair shop. Start building a loyalty program with service discounts or digital deals (e-coupons).
Collect & Manage Online Reviews, & Monitor Social Media Activity
Online reviews are today’s word-of-mouth marketing. Automatically publish 5-Star ratings from every customer who reviews your shop. Combine with ratings from popular sites such as Yelp, Google+, Facebook, Citysearch, and Yahoo! to show off your reputation score on your website.
Automate daily scans of social media sites for positive and negative posts about your company, employees, and competitors.
What Customers Are Saying
“The most important thing the Digital Marketing platform does for us is it provides us with the ability to own our customers Before we implemented the platform we did not have any way of organizing and communicating with customers. We now have THOUSANDS of customers in the platform that we can now market to and communicate with digitally!”
Barry Reddick, Founder & Owner
Collision Pro, Helena, Montana
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